RE: Usage of CP1252 characters on

From: Nelson Minar (
Date: Tue Jul 08 1997 - 03:36:53 EDT

Chris Pratley <> says:
>I've spent several years doing usability studies of real consumer and
>corporate users. I think you are overestimating the average
>non-technical person's tolerance for jargon and technical details. I'm
>not against having buried options (even registry entries or config
>files!) for the technical user, but expecting any normal person to have
>any patience for having to mess with "encodings" is asking for it.

I have to agree here. Isn't the main point of Unicode in the first
place to simplify multilingual uses of computers? The people on this
list may think about Unicode in terms of making it easier to write
programs, but Unicode will also make end-user stuff much easier. No
more weirdness in Netscape about which character set to use (Latin1?
Latin2? Japanese with which coding?). All standard, the user doesn't
have to think about it.

I had a chuckle when Markus Kuhn said:
>In the Unix world, in such situations we make things configurable.

He's right, of course, and I really love Unix for it. But it's also
one of the things that makes Unix a nightmare for ordinary users.
Software designers always start out thinking "we can make it
configurable but just hide it in the back for experts", but you always
end up with a situation where that configurability has to be exposed
at some point.

One last comment, on the flame stuff:
>May I remind you that HTML and the Web were developed on NeXTStep and
>Unix and that e.g. I have been using HTML for almost two years before
>the first MS-Windows browser was available? Microsoft is a guest in
>the Web arena, not a Web god.

The point I was trying to make in my earlier message is that, in point
of fact, Microsoft *is* a Web god. They aren't the guest anymore,
they're the purpose for the party. I hate to say this as a long-time
Unix bigot. But look around and what's happening with Internet
technologies. Java is a good example. I don't want to invoke a
religious debate about this, I only bring it up because the politics
and economics surrounding standards processes is interesting.

>We have well-established standards and it would suit Microsoft well
>to follow those standards and not to try to replace them with its
>proprietary standards just because of Microsoft's inertia.

The paranoid among us think that in some economic situations, in fact
it *does* suit Microsoft to use a proprietary system. I'll pass on
that discussion, though.

The great thing about Unicode is that fundamentally, it's a
technically *right* solution. Microsoft and other software companies
derive benefit from adopting it not just because it's a standard, but
because it's a nifty way to support all the world's writing systems.
In the end that's going to be what makes Unicode succeed. Not the
politics of standards bodies but the superiority of the technology.

(In the meantime, I still can't see any reason anyone should have
*ever* written code to output broken 0x80-0x9f HTML. Was there no
viable alternative at the time?)

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