Re: Is it a font or an encoding?

From: Martin J. Dürst (
Date: Sun Oct 05 1997 - 17:36:22 EDT

On Tue, 9 Sep 1997, Randy Williams wrote:

> Folks,
> This is not directly a Unicode question, but I hope people
> don't mind my posting this here.
> I hope you can settle a debate I am having with a co-worker.
> Given a font that is ship on Windows where this font has various
> glyphs replaced in the 0x80 - 0x9F range with 22 "Box Drawing"
> characters. These are the 22 "Box Drawing" characters that are
> found in cp850 on IBM PC and are found in U+2500 plane of Unicode.
> These 22 "Box Drawing" characters do not exist in Windows cp1252
> encoding. So the replacement is done to add those characters to the
> font and the font otherwise is exactly like cp1252.
> One of us claims that this font has effectively created a new
> encoding. The other claims that this is just a new font. Which
> is it?

Hello Randy,

Here my two cents. It depends on how you use this font. If you
use it for displaying things that e.g. came into your application
via Unicode, in the U+2500 area, then it's not an encoding
(exactly: it's not a character encoding, it's only a glyph encoding).
If you use it in text, then it's a character encoding, unless
your replacements were just glyph changes (which they clearly
were not). If you send texts written with that font around
without telling people what font/encoding to use, they will
have problems. But telling them in the first place is a problem,
because you either have to send them the font, or tell them
how to prepare a similar font. You could also register your
encoding as a IANA "charset", but the registry already contains
too many useless registrations, and I would clearly advise not
to do so. Also, please don't use such things in a web page.
In HTML, there are much better ways of exactly expressing
the characters you want to have in the document; using a
<FONT> tag for this purpose is very bad and dangerous cheating.

Regards, Martin.

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