RE: Inappropriate Proposals FAQ

From: Suzanne M. Topping (
Date: Thu Jul 11 2002 - 13:27:12 EDT

Apologies for the delayed response to this thread, I've been out of

 -----Original Message-----
> From: William Overington []
> Sent: Friday, July 05, 2002 10:22 AM
> For the avoidance of doubt I am not saying that the Unicode Technical
> Committee should necessarily accept such items as your
> furniture idea for
> encoding, I am simply saying that any decision as to what may
> be encoded and
> what shall and what shall not be encoded should be made by the Unicode
> Technical Committee on the basis of the scientific situation
> at the time
> that an encoding proposal is formally considered. I feel
> that it would be a
> major error for the Unicode Consortium to publish a FAQ document which
> prejudices the fair consideration of characters based upon
> new technologies
> which may arise in the future.

While your thoughts on executing the floor plan idea are truly
gobsmacking, I have to confess that I'd raised the concept precisely
because it is -not- an appropriate issue for Unicode.

Unicode is a character set. Period.

When setting out on any endeavor, you have to be clear on what the
intent is. If you want to go to the park and have a picnic, you set out
parameters for that activity. If you allow a bunch of people to stop you
along the way to buy shoes, see a movie, visit their aunt in the
hospital, and get the oil changed in their car, you probably won't be
able to accomplish the initial goal.

If you develop a program for creating room layouts using graphics of
furniture and architectural details, you probably shouldn't include
modules to manage the drug histories of AIDS victims.

That doesn't make tracking drug histories of AIDS victims unimportant,
it means that they aren't a logical set of requirements to add to a room
layout program.

The Unicode consortium very wisely keeps it's focus narrow. It provides
a mechanism for specifying characters. Not for manipulating them, not
for describing them, not for making them twinkle.

You clearly have widely ranging ideas for unique text and symbol
applications. It would be great if you could channel that energy into
developing ideas for a manipulation layer that could take Unicode
characters, manipulate them, and deliver them in a cross-platform
portable way which would allow them to be displayed and used in the ways
that you envision.

As recent discussions on this list have shown, Unicode is just one piece
in the puzzle. Font and rendering issues for many languages remain
serious stumbling blocks for actual use, even though the characters
themselves are encoded. Any work you could do toward advancement of a
manipulation layer that would ease the task of rendering characters as
they are actually needed and used would be a tremendous boon. I would
imagine that you would find a reasonable level of interest from a wide
range of communities; font developers, bidi word processing developers,
accessibility experts, minority script advocates, etc. I'll bet that
some of the regular old Unicodies might even want to listen in.

It would be sad if your energy and enthusiasm were dampened by the
repeated denials you receive through this list. The ideas you generate
are interesting, and often worth investigation. However, they are not
appropriate additions to Unicode.

I'm setting up a new group which can hopefully act as an appropriate
venue for these types of discussions. As soon as I come up with a decent
name for it, I'll send off an invitation with instructions for joining
to the Unicode list.

All the best,

Suzanne Topping
BizWonk Inc.

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