Re: The Unicode Technical Committee meeting in Redmond, Washington State, USA.

From: Kenneth Whistler (
Date: Mon Aug 26 2002 - 17:39:59 EDT

William Overington inquired:

> As many readers may know, the Unicode Technical Committee was due to start a
> four day meeting yesterday at the Redmond, Washington State, USA campus of
> Microsoft, that is, on 20 August 2002.
> Here in England I am interested to know of what is happening and to learn of
> news from the meeting.

As Sarasvati has indicated, minutes will be publicly posted in a few weeks.

[BTW, the minutes from the February and April/May meetings have actually been
approved, although their status has not been updated to "Approved" yet on the
website page.]

> It is the early hours of the morning in Washington State at present. It is
> hoped that when delegates get up for breakfast that they might look in their
> emails and make early morning responses, or perhaps arrange for an official
> briefing to be posted later in the day.
> If I were conducting a live interview with the committee chairman or with an
> official spokesperson I would ask the following questions.

Unfortunately, the UTC has not yet arranged its television contract
with ESPN, since character encoding has not generally been considered
a mass-appeal spectator sport.

However, since I did attend the UTC meeting last week, I may be able to
provide up-to-date commentary regarding some of the questions which are
not better answered by waiting for the official minutes.

> * What was discussed yesterday (Tuesday) please, and what formal decisions,
> if any, were taken please?

Wait for the minutes.

> * How many people attended please?

16 on Tuesday. 18 on Wednesday. Back down to 15(?) on Thursday and Friday.

> * Is it only companies which are full members of the Unicode Consortium who
> send delegates to the meeting, or are there also representatives of
> organizations who do not vote in decisions present as well?

The latter.

> * Will there be a press statement at the close of the meeting please, and if
> so, will it also be posted in the Unicode mailing list please?

No, there will not be a press statement. Encoding of a VERTICAL LINE EXTENSION
character was not considered of such earth-shattering consequence that
it would lead to headlines in the technology press.

> * Has there been, or is there on the agenda, any discussion of the wording
> in the Unicode specification about the use of the Private Use Area and, if
> so, are any changes to that wording being implemented?

Not discussed by the UTC last week. This is in the purview of the editorial

> * Has there been, or is there on the agenda, any discussion concerning the
> status of the code points U+FFF9 through to U+FFFC please? There has been
> some discussion recently in the Unicode mailing list about these code
> points, as regards issues of U+FFF9 through to U+FFFB as an issue, the issue
> of using U+FFFC as a single issue, and the issue of using U+FFF9 through to
> U+FFFC all together. Is the committee discussing these issues at all and,
> if so, are they discussing the matter of whether U+FFFC can be used in
> sending documents from a sender to a receiver please? Is there any
> discussion of a possible rewording, or changing of meaning, of the wording
> about the U+FFF9 through to U+FFFC code points in the Unicode specification
> please?

Not discussed by the UTC last week. This is in the purview of the editorial

> * Are any matters concerning how the Unicode specification interacts with
> the way that fonts are implemented being discussed please?

Yes. In a general way, this ends up being discussed at every meeting.

> If so, is due
> care being taken that as font format is not, at present, an international
> standards matter that therefore the committee must take great care to ensure
> that Unicode does not become dependent upon a usage, express or implied, of
> the intellectual property rights or format of any particular font format
> specification?

The UTC always attempts to exercise "due care" in what it considers, but it
is unclear just what clarification you are asking for here. The UTC does
not standardize font formats.

> * Is there any discussion of the possibility of adding further noncharacters
> please, considering either or both adding some more noncharacters in plane 0
> and a large block of noncharacters in one of the planes 1 through to 14?


> * Is the committee discussing the issue of interpretation, namely as to how,
> if various people read the published specification so as to have different
> meanings, how people may receive a ruling as to the formally correct meaning
> of the wording of the specification. This recently arose in relation to the
> U+FFFC character and has previously arisen in relation to what is correct
> usage of the Private Use Area, so there are at least two areas where the
> issue of interpretation has arisen.

No. The UTC is a standardization committee, not a court of law.

If a problem of interpretation of the standard arises, and if the UTC
thinks that is a problem it needs to address, it generally delegates
to the editorial committee the task of writing clarificatory language
to better express the UTC's intent.

> I am hoping that regular postings of what is happening in the meeting will
> appear as the meeting progresses so that there is both information for
> people who may be affected by what is decided at the meeting and also so
> that participants in the meeting might be able to gather end user feedback
> upon any topics that arise at the meeting before they make any decision
> which may affect end users.

I think you may be misapprehending how technical standards meetings
operate. The minutes of the meeting will appear in due time, and then
you can gather feedback for the *next* meeting. You cannot realistically
expect to operate in real time for these kinds of meetings.

> Is there an official press spokesperson for the meeting please?

Well, I guess I just nominated myself. ;-)

--Ken Whistler

16 August 2002

> William Overington
> 21 August 2002

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