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

From: Brian E Carpenter (
Date: Mon Aug 16 1999 - 10:09:35 EDT

fwiw I fully agree with Markus; I can't see any sense in defining
two ways, plus a third ambiguous way, of doing the same thing,
especially when it's not something we want people to do anyway.


Markus Kuhn wrote:
> =?ISO-8859-1?Q?Patrik_F=E4ltstr=F6m?= wrote on 1999-08-15 15:55 UTC:

Who was that again?-)

> > I.e. from my point of view, Paul tries to register three different names
> > which can be used in MIME:
> >
> > UTF-16
> > UTF-16LE
> > UTF-16BE
> >
> > I need to, as area director, to know wether it is wrong or right to do this
> > registration.
> Very clear answer:
> It is WRONG to register both a bigendian and a littleendian variant
> of UTF-16.
> Reasons:
> a) it has been long-established practice to use *exclusively* bigendian
> convention in ISO, ITU, IETF, ECMA, and Internet RFC protocols
> b) there is no technical need for a littleendian format or for two
> alternative UTF-16 formats on the wire
> c) it has been proven that bigendian/littleendian conversion has no
> measurable impact on performance whatsoever
> d) the littleendian convention is an embarrassing historic accident
> that affects only a small number of CPU brands (unfortunately also
> the one I use myself) and bigendian is commonly accepted to be
> the natural and technically sound encoding of multi-byte
> integers today (full story available on request)
> It is probably acceptable to register just "UTF-16" and make it clear
> that this refers in the MIME context always to the bigendian encoding. I
> welcome that UTF-8 is clearly identified as the preferred encoding.
> Markus
> --
> Markus G. Kuhn, Computer Laboratory, University of Cambridge, UK
> Email: mkuhn at, WWW: <>

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