Re: ASCII and Unicode lifespan

From: Hans Aberg (
Date: Wed May 18 2005 - 05:18:50 CDT

  • Next message: Raymond Mercier: "Re: ASCII and Unicode lifespan"

    At 22:15 -0700 2005/05/17, Doug Ewell wrote:
    >I'd be interested to know what part of Unicode you think is in danger of
    >this type of obsolescence. (You too, Hans.)

    It is just a general phenomenon is a fast developing environment.
    Also a successful program or standard out-dates itself, as it invites
    users to do things not originally intended. Exactly what will cause
    the outdating is as hard to foresee as anything else in the future.
    If it was easy to foresee, one would just build that into the
    programs or standards, and they would noty need to outdate.

    >The ITU alphabets and BCDIC were ill-suited to data processing because
    >of their limited repertoire and non-contiguous letters and digits.
    >FIELDATA still did not provide lowercase. EBCDIC had non-contiguous
    >letters and way too many different flavors. ASCII provided little or no
    >support for languages other than English. The ISO 8859 family supported
    >many more languages, but only a few at a time, and required out-of-band
    >information or ISO 2022 switching to be correctly identified. Vendor
    >standards were proprietary and too easily changed, and sources differ as
    >to their exact content.
    >Each of these character encodings has faced certain problems or
    >limitations that led to their progressive replacement.

    There are several limitations of Unicode, often discussed here. One
    is the non-change. But one can surely find a much better natural
    language representations, once on has been made.

    >Now, in keeping with this, what problems does Unicode present that will
    >lead to its replacement by something better? How will the "something
    >better" solve these problems without introducing new ones? How will it
    >meet the challenge of transcoding untold amounts of "legacy" Unicode
    >data? How will it respond to the inevitable objections from supporters
    >of other encoding systems as Unicode has done?

    The principles by which Unicode is developed are largely empirical,
    put together in a patchwork. It is practical in the sense that it
    provides the opportunity of finding at least one representation of
    almost all human writing. The next step would to more deeply analyze
    and discover the underlying principle. Then one can do a much better
    character representation.

    It seems me obvious that such developments will happen, regardless
    what one does at Unicode. The best Unicode can do, in my opinion, is
    helping such developments. Then such developments could be done in
    new standards within the scope of the Unicode consortium.

       Hans Aberg

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