PUA as the Wild West [was: SSP default ignorable characters]

From: Dean Snyder (dean.snyder@jhu.edu)
Date: Wed Apr 28 2004 - 09:11:33 EDT

  • Next message: Jon Hanna: "Re: PUA as the Wild West [was: SSP default ignorable characters]"

    Peter Kirk wrote at 3:59 PM on Tuesday, April 27, 2004:

    >>No, it means that people who want arbitrary redefinitions of
    >>such character properties have to be able to do the work
    >>themselves or hire someone to do it for them.
    >"*ha! ha! ha!* Yeah, that's a funny one!" I am supposed to rewrite
    >Windows, MacOS or whatever from scratch, or "hire someone to do it" if I
    >have a few billion dollars to spare and a few decades to wait. For the
    >real Windows, MacOS or whatever do not support this kind of redefinition
    >and provide no way for end users to add them. The situation is slightly
    >better with Linux in that at least I wouldn't have to rewrite the whole
    >thing. Get real, Ken!

    Actually you don't need to re-write Windows, Mac OS, etc., you "only"
    need to hook into the text management and rendering engine of your OS and
    re-write that subsection of the code. But, of course, you do need to know
    what you're doing here and it isn't that easy, or cheap. (It could take
    months, and thousands of dollars.)

    At some point it can indeed become unrealistic, snobbish, self-serving,
    and even lazy to just casually toss out the "do-it-yourself" crumb. There
    is a lot to be said for a high level of text management and rendering
    support resulting from the contract between operating systems and
    standard encodings - otherwise everybody would be going their own way. As
    is usual in such engineering and marketing situations, one must weigh the
    trade-offs carefully. If there is a reasonable way to support what end
    users want, or need, to do, then it should be taken seriously.
    Unfortunately, and not uncommonly, inertia dominates. At some level, in
    the absence of sufficient external force, we are all resistant to change.

    I'm not really taking sides here on this PARTICULAR issue, I just wanted
    to point out that we are all aware that we can do our own thing; but this
    should really be the tactic (and advice) of last resort.

    Currently, I view the PUA as practically a wasteland, unusable for even
    for the most basic research work. On my OS of choice, I can't even encode
    a font for the PUA user area and expect simple left-to-right display of
    my glyphs, much less right-to-left. Yes, I can hook the OS and do this on
    my own, but the question remains why should I, and why should EVERYBODY
    ELSE, have to do this when some such minimal support could be built into
    operating systems conformant to Unicode standards? (And this is not
    really rocket science either.)

    Is it simply out of the question, to review PUA policies and
    implementation in Unicode? Could not the PUA, or possibly multiple PUA's,
    retain their almost wild west independence and entrepreneurial spirit,
    and still have a few sheriffs hanging around here and there to impose
    some minimal expectation of law and order?


    Dean A. Snyder

    Assistant Research Scholar
    Manager, Digital Hammurabi Project
    Computer Science Department
    Whiting School of Engineering
    218C New Engineering Building
    3400 North Charles Street
    Johns Hopkins University
    Baltimore, Maryland, USA 21218

    office: 410 516-6850
    cell: 717 817-4897

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