Re: ISO/IEC 10646 versus Unicode

From: Kenneth Whistler (
Date: Thu Jul 18 2002 - 14:27:01 EDT

Marion Gunn wrote:

> The immediate attraction ang great advantage of Unicode’s vision was its
> simplicity/focus: after an unsteady and argumentative start, its
> founders committed Unicode to the IMPLEMENTATION of10646, and became
> very specific (loud) about not calling it a STANDARD (note to newcomers
> - check out the archives of the relevant lists).

Well, I'm one of the founders, and I don't recall this particular
dichotomy, certainly not LOUDLY stated. I dug around for awhile in my
own collection of 1989 - 1993 email, and didn't find any obvious such
claims, although I could well have missed someone's assertion. Perhaps
you can cite an example of what you are talking about.

In any case, the existence of the Unicode Standard, published as a *standard*
in 1991, with Volume 2 in 1992, clearly self-proclaiming its status as
a standard, would seem to belie your claim. Read the text -- even in
Volume 2 of Unicode 1.0, published while the merger was underway,
and containing a number of pages devoted to the details of how the
repertoire of the Unicode Standard was synched with the then to-be-published
ISO/IEC 10646-1:1993, the Unicode Standard didn't proclaim that it was
merely an implementation of 10646. Sample of that text:

  "... These additional elements do not create incompatibility between
   the Unicode standard and ISO DIS 10646. They are summarized here
   in order to clarify the relationshp between the two standards...

  "While ISO 10646 contains no means of explicitly identifying or
   'declaring' Unicode values as such, the Unicode standard may be
   considered as encompassing the entire repertoire of 10646 and
   having the following profile values: ... " -- p. 3

> I expected the ad hoc Uncode
> consortium itself to voluntarily disband in 3-5 years (wrong again)
> having successfully fulfilled its brief of producing implementations of
> 10646 with flying colours (again wrong, as it has yet to do that).

I think this is a misunderstanding of the self-understood brief of
the Unicode Consortium. It was ad hoc, certainly, but its purpose was
not "producing implementations of 10646". The original "Purpose" of
the Unicode Consortium, as stated in the Bylaws filed in the Articles
of Incorportation of the corporation on January 3, 1991 was:

  "This Corporation's purpose shall be to standardize, maintain and
   promote a standard fixed-width, 16-bit character encoding that
   provides an allocation for more than 60,000 graphics characters."

That was two years *before* ISO/IEC 10646-1:1993 was published.
To reflect changing reality, following the publication of the Unicode
Standard and the introduction of encoding forms (UTF-*), the Bylaws
have subsequently been amended to:

  "This Corporation's purpose shall be to extend, maintain and promote
   the Unicode Standard."

This was and is quite clear. The Unicode Consortium is a standardization
organization, and its activities revolve around the care and support
of the Unicode Standard. It never has been a group just dedicated to
figuring out how to implement 10646.
> but that does not
> mean any withdrawal of EGT’s initial and longstanding support of
> Unicode, in principal (although it seems to have produced only one thing
> to date, viz., a book called ‘The Unicode Standard’ (where I expected to
> read ‘Implementation’).

See above.


This archive was generated by hypermail 2.1.2 : Thu Jul 18 2002 - 12:51:11 EDT