RE: Can browsers show text? I don't think so

From: Michael Jansson (
Date: Thu Jul 04 2002 - 14:46:27 EDT

> Marco Cimarosti wrote:
> > I am not proposing using PUA or introducing new code points
> > to do this. You would still have valid Unicode characters
> > in the page (of sorts). The characters would be ordered
> > visually though,
> That is what I understood. And I still *totally* disagree.
> Logical order is not an optional feature of Unicode: it is mandatory.

Duh... really!? (being sarcastic).

> Transmitting text in visual order is simply not Unicode: it
> is a hack for
> which you'd better chose another name.
> > and contain extra information
> > to let the user agent (the browser, a.k.a. 'ua') know which
> > alternate form to use for a character.
> It sounds totally useless: this extra information is already
> implicitly
> contained in the text, and it is called "context".

Hang on here. I'm not saying that a Unicode capable ua should do this. Why
would it? If an app support Unicode then it supports Unicode. There would be
no need for messing up the text? We all know the reasons why you should not
want to do that.

What I am saying is that if you are going to resort to preprocessing text
into glyph indices, then you might as well base it on Unicode characters and
not dream up your own encoding format as you outline in your previous mail.
Whether you want to call it visually ordered Unicode or something else is
really beside the point. I do think it is a descriptive name though (the
"visually ordered" part).

> > This is less than ideal of course, [...]
> Much less than ideal, in fact: it is a poor hack.

Yes, of course it is. Anything short of proper Unicode support would be.
This brings me yet again back to my point with this mail thread - modern
browsers do not fully support Unicode. I wish they would.

> > I don't see why you need code points in this case. A ua can
> > easily render text with nothing but glyph index as input,
> Of course it can. But I fail to see why you want to call it a
> "Unicode" ua.

I would not. Again, I'm pursuing the idea *you* presented earlier. The
reason why you would want to resort to such an approach would be if an ua do
*not* support Unicode (or at least not for a specific language). If you want
to show Tamil with IE on Win98, then can't use real Unicode, even though
Win98 can show individual Unicode characters. You better evaluate what you
options are on such a platform, and deal with the issue if you still want to
show Tamil there.

> After you showed me the evil such a thing could do in the
> wrong hands, the
> idea suddenly becomes much less appealing!

Should I be offended?

> _ Marco

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