Re: Chromatic text. (follows from Re: [unicode] Re: FW: Inappropriate Proposals FAQ)

From: William Overington (
Date: Mon Jul 08 2002 - 10:19:42 EDT

Marco Cimarosti wrote as follows.

>Of course you can. But my feeling is that you already *did* suggest this,
>many and many times.

Actually I was trying in the posting upon which you comment to suggest that,
even if people do not agree with me about having colour codes in a plain
text file, they might perhaps consider as a separate issue the adding into
regular Unicode of a zero width operator whose use would be to indicate that
a character, such as U+1362, should be decorated chromatically. This would
mean that a sequence U+1362 ZWJ ZWCDO could be used in documents, which
would give a chromatically decorated glyph with a chromatic font yet would
just give U+1362 as a monochrome character if the font did not recognize the
U+1362 ZWJ ZWCDO sequence.

>I interpret your post as one more lengthy repetition of your well-known
>opinion: differences between "plain text" and "rich text" should not exist:
>they should be eliminated by incorporating the mark-up in the encoding.

Actually, that is not my opinion.

My opinion is that splitting text files into just two categories, either
plain text or markup is not sufficient, but that there should perhaps be
more categories or, if there are but two categories that the dividing line
between them should be in a different place. I tend to base the essential
dividing line upon whether the encoding of the file of code points is
meaningful if one tries to compute the effect of a code point upon the
system as simply the effect of that code point as it stands, without having
to have software recognize a character such as < and determine that a markup
bubble is being entered then to have to read in several more characters
within the markup bubble before taking any action as a result of the first
character in the sequence (that is, the < character) being read. That
distinction means that each Unicode character is processed as it is received
within the main loop of the program, without the receiving of a < character
putting the processing into an inner loop within a markup bubble, within
which bubble ordinary Unicode character codes which are read have a
different meaning than in the Unicode specification.

To me, such a distinction means that people who are using lower cost, more
generally available software packages, might by such an approach be able in
the not too distant future to use files in a non-proprietary portable format
and get much better results than just using monochrome traditional plain

Perhaps some sort of consensus over nomenclature for three categories of
text file could occur, namely plain text in the manner which you like it,
plain text in the manner in which I like it and markup. Maybe plain text,
enhanced text and markup would be suitable names. How do people feel about
that please?

It is unfortunately the case in discussions that when someone disagrees with
an idea that is put forward that he or she is more likely to respond in
public than if he or she agrees with an idea which is put forward, or has
simply read about the idea and just notes it as an interesting possibility.
This can have the effect that many people may agree with an idea or at least
not be against it yet make no comment, perhaps giving an impression that an
idea is not well received at large when in fact that is not necessarily the

William Overington

8 July 2002

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