Re: Last Call: UTF-16, an encoding of ISO 10646 to Informational

From: Frank da Cruz (
Date: Sun Aug 15 1999 - 14:55:22 EDT

> --On svn 15 aug 1999 12.31 +0000 Frank da Cruz <>
> wrote:
> >> Just checking: you say that the registration of UTF-16LE and UTF-16BE as
> >> the two registered names to be used in MIME is wrong?
> >>
> > If MIME is an interchange standard, then yes, it would be wrong. What is
> > the point of codifying the internal storage format of different computer
> > architectures in an interchange standard?
> The idea of MIME is that the sender can tell the receiver what he has used.
> Nothing else.
Then it's a bad idea. Because it has led to the insupportable situation we
have now with email. To illustrate:

I am a new computer user. I go to the store and buy an "Internet ready
computer" complete with email. I use it to send email to people. They can't
read my email even though the MIME headers say what I have used, because they
have different kinds of computers or different applications. These people
send messages back to me telling me to send them something they can
understand. But I don't even know what they are talking about (assuming I
can read their messages in the first place!). I only clicked on "send email".
What do I know about standards and character sets and presentation forms?

The people who designed the original ARPAnet understood these issues. Read,
for example, the RFCs of Padlipsky, or his book "Elements of Networking Style".

> >> If someone of you which oppose this paper want a different introduction
> >> which makes this point clearer, please submit text and I will be happy to
> >> discuss this with Paul.
> >>
> > I would suggest that Section 3, including all its subsections, be replaced
> > by a simple statement to the effect that UTF-16 shall always be
> > transmitted most-significant byte first, and that the text label be
> > simply "UTF-16".
> >
> > With this change, Section 4 is no longer needed and Section 5 can be
> > simplified.
> This means that there is _no_way_ for a sender that for some weird reason
> want to send UTF-16 with least-significant byte first, not even in closed
> environments. You are aware of that?
Absolutely. In a closed environment, you don't need a public registry.
In an open environment, you don't need, and should not use, vendor- or
application- or architecture-specific presentation forms. It's antisocial.

- Frank

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