Re: String name and Character Name

From: Andrew C. West (
Date: Wed Apr 27 2005 - 02:58:19 CST

  • Next message: Peter Kirk: "Re: String name and Character Name"

    On Tue, 26 Apr 2005 18:07:02 -0700, John Hudson wrote:
    > I suspect that if user interface designers choose to present Unicode character
    > names to
    > users they do so simply because it is a no-brainer: the names are in the
    > data
    > files, and don't require the developer to do much work.

    I think that's a bit unfair. If UI designers use the Unicode character names it
    is because that is all there is to use for most characters. You can hardly
    expect (or want) UI designers to arbitrarily devise their own names for 97,720
    characters (I assume most people consider the names for CJK ideographs to be
    less than useful to the end user), or even go through them all and correct this
    one or that one as they see fit.

    Otto and others have emphasized that the Unicode character names should not be
    presented to the user in isolation, but appended with the associated notes
    and/or aliases. But one very important constraint on UI design is space, and
    given that many character names are very long, there may be simply no room to
    append notes and/or aliases to them, especially as some of the notes are very
    long (e.g. "this character is intended for line break control; it has no width,
    but its presence between two characters does not prevent increased letter
    spacing in justification" for U+200B) and some character have multiple aliases
    (e.g. "pound sterling, Irish punt, Italian lira, Turkish lira, etc." for U+00A3).

    And then, for me, the aliases are really no better than the character names in
    most cases, and a lot worse in many. Just looking at the Basic Latin block, the
    aliases include such monstrosities as :

    U+0040 "COMMERCIAL AT" = Klammeraffe (common, humorous slang German name)
    -- I feel embarrassed to present this to my users ... and why should I be
    presenting humorous German slang to possibly very serious users of an
    English-language application ?

    U+002F "SOLIDUS" = virgule, shilling (British)
    -- the solidus is neither equivalent to nor designates "shilling", but is simply
    a line that in my youth was used to separate the shilling digits from the pence
    digits, as in 2/6 ("two and six"). To indicate a shilling value with no pence
    you need to use the solidus in conjunction with a dash to indicate no pence, as
    in 2/- ("two shillings").

    U+002E "FULL STOP" = dot, decimal point
    -- I might reasonably have expected "period" here

    U+002A "ASTERISK" = star (on phone keypads)
    -- is calling an asterisk a "star" restricted to phones (C programmers call it a
    star as well) ? Do I care ?


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