Re: Ending the Overington [debate]

From: Kenneth Whistler (
Date: Tue Jul 09 2002 - 21:31:45 EDT

David Hopwood responded to Michael Everson:

> > >people just keep saying that markup exists, as if the very existence
> > >of XML in some way precludes single code point colour codes and
> > >single code point formatting codes and so on.
> >
> > Yes, that is right. That is entirely right.
> No it isn't. Duplicating functionality between character encoding and markup
> is just a Bad Thing (usually).

Agreed. And that is part of the reason for the existence of a Unicode
Technical Report (and W3C Note) which tries to set guidelines on what is and
is not appropriate to use in the context of markup. For those who haven't seen
it, UTR #20: Unicode in XML and other Markup Languages:

> It is certainly not excluded a priori - as
> demonstrated by the interlinear annotation markers, stateful BiDi controls,
> and plane 14 language tags.

Correct. But just because the line between plain text content and
the kind of formatting or other presentational and/or annotational
material is often difficult to firmly draw doesn't mean that we
have open season to simply dump anything we want into character

On color, for example, there is clear consensus that encoding color
by characters is way, waaaay over the line into the kind of stuff which
should be handled by markup (as for setting the text color on hyperlinks)
or even by out-and-out graphics (as for display text elements).

The existence of XML (or other markup languages) does not, ipso facto,
preclude the character encoding committees from encoding "single code
point colour codes". Rather, the consensus among character encoding
committees that text color is better handled by other layers of
text (and non-text) presentation and is inappropriate for encoding as
characters precludes them from making what would be utterly
controversial and nonconsensual encoding decisions.

> I see that no-one in this thread has even attempted to explain why
> duplication of functionality across layers is a bad idea, or to discuss
> what alternative models would have been possible besides "plain text" +
> {HTML,SGML,XML,TeX}-style markup languages. I'll try to do that in another
> post.

I'm looking forward to it.


> - --
> David Hopwood <>

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