FW: Using Unicode with e-mail

From: Magda Danish (Unicode) (v-magdad@microsoft.com)
Date: Mon Nov 20 2000 - 12:06:50 EST

-----Original Message-----
From: Scott, Jim [mailto:JScott@dit.state.va.us]
Sent: Friday, November 17, 2000 12:16 PM
To: 'info@unicode.org'
Subject: Using Unicode with e-mail

Is there any hope for using Unicode in e-mail? Here's an example to
illustrate. (I know you aren't going to solve my particular problem, and I
am only asking for a general statement about whether it is even feasible to
use Unicode in e-mail.)

I live in the U.S.A., and I sometimes send e-mail to friends in Sarajevo,
Bosnia, sometimes in English, sometimes in Croatian (a.k.a. Bosnian). I use
America Online, and they use a variety of ISPs (biharnet.ba, utic.net.ba,
and firstlinux.net). I would like to use their exact character set,
including the non-English letters with accents over them, when I write to
them in Croatian, and I would like for them to be able to write back the
same way. I have tried various ways of including these letters to them, but
they never come out correctly at their end. They have a Croatian keyboard,
but the accented letters don't come through to my end.

For example, here are some Croatian letters that look correct as I compose
this e-mail (using Microsoft Outlook 2000 and Arial CE font):
Cc (upper and lower case C with / accent above)
Cc (upper and lower case C with v accent above)
Dd (upper and lower case D with - accent across vertical line of D and
across top of d)
Ss (upper and lower case S with v accent above)
Zz (upper and lower case Z with v accent above)

Do these look correct to you?

I suspect the basic problem is that the various ISPs and e-mail providers
put e-mail text through a lot of processes, such as changing font sizes,
converting fonts to plain text, and inserting CRLF to fit narrow page
widths. It seems like a wild west where there is no reason to hope for
Unicode encoding and decoding for a long time to come.

Am I right to be pessimistic, or is there some great secret that will allow
me to use Unicode in e-mail and have my characters look the same when they
arrive as when I sent them?

Jim Scott

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