Re: Courtyard Codes and the Private Use Area

From: William Overington (
Date: Sat May 25 2002 - 10:44:51 EDT

Response to the comments of Mr Michael Everson.

>Your Courtyard codes are a form of formatting markup. Why not use XML?

I had heard of XML but knew little about it. Your question has prompted me
to try to learn a little more about it.

The answer is that XML uses the < character as a special character rather
than as its Unicode meaning, so the text file is not plain text. The use of
the < character other than for its normal Unicode meaning can cause
considerable problems. This may not be significant for, say, poetry, yet if
one is trying to include listings of software in a document, it can be
extremely inconvenient.

For example, the following.

if(x < 3)

In order to set that using XML, then as I understand it from starting to
learn about it, the < character cannot just be set as a < character.

>Everyone else will do.

Well, maybe they will and maybe they won't. It will be interesting to
observe what happens. I feel that Courtyard Codes are an important step
forward in the application of Unicode plain text files. They open up
various possibilities for portable files without anything such as just one
word needed in italics necessitating people to buy expensive software from
commercial companies, the software perhaps containing far more features than
the end user needs for the task in hand, yet just because one small feature
like one word in italics is needed, then the end user has to use expensive
software packages with proprietary file formats which reduce portability
greatly, or the end user has to go without a feature such as putting one
word in italics. A far simpler software package could be used, perhaps
written by an up and coming software company. This is the future for the
Unicode system. It is starting to change direction. Yes, the scripts from
long ago need to be added, I am for that, yet ideas that distinguish markup
from plain text so rigidly need to move with the times. Courtyard Codes are
a step along that path. Hopefully they will be a catalyst for innovation
and will lead to the Committees debating the issue of whether the rigid
boundary between plain text and markup is as valid as it once may have been.

William Overington

25 May 2002

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