Re: Hexadecimal in many scripts (ISO 14755)

Date: Mon Jun 07 1999 - 12:46:11 EDT

John Cowan wrote
>I chose U+2323 for a reason: it is very unlikely to appear on any keyboard, and
even fairly unlikely to appear in any list of "frequently used non-keyboard
characters" that a particular
IME may provide. It's just a freak, a highly specialized character that you
want when you want it and not otherwise.

Let's distinguish among the following:

1. writing systems that a person uses regularly
2. characters that an individual wants to use on an occasional but somewhat
regular basis
3. a character that an individual wants to use in an isolated instance

Situation 1 is typically, and generally should, be provided for by IMs made
available to the user, usually with the OS.

Situation 2 should best be met by user-definable IMs. John is right that there
will be characters that are unlikely to appear as part of any packaged IM but
that an individual may want to use regularly. These are generally specific to
the individual, and the preferred way of keying them is also specific to the
individual since there is (by definition) no standard keying. The number of
users that want to use unusual characters is not a majority, and this group
could probably be motivated to come up with their own IM definition if they were
given tools that made it easy enough to implement.

Situation 3 should be met by exactly the kind of mechanism being suggested by
ISO 14755. For this reason, I think the idea should be pursued. The open
questions are:

Q: Should codes be entered according to decimal or hexadecimal representations?

As has already been indicated, people are *very* unlikely to find decimal
representations in a table, unless they create the table themselves and do the
conversions. These should be hex.

Q: Should users be able to enter using transliterations of hex codes (what I've
referred to in earlier messages as "localising" hex)?

I think there are some significant concerns about such a plan, and I've
mentioned them previously. In addition, I think it's probably highly likely that
anyone who wants to enter an uncommon character into their document - someone
who has an awareness of the character, who has a wish to use it in a document,
and who has access to the standard - is the type of person who has a keyboard
that supports a Latin layout and/or is familiar with some Latin layout. (This
kind of person surely works with Latin - at least, they need to be able to read
the standard and/or type in the URL to the charts on the Unicode web site, and
they probably work with a lot of other Latin URLs as well.) My guess is that
this person would probably prefer to enter hex codes in terms of the actual
Latin characters, even if they had a way to enter the code in terms of a
transliteration of hex.

Between the problems involved in transliterating hex into other scripts and the
question about whether it is really needed or would be used, I think this part
of the plan needs to be thought through much more carefully before it is


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