Re: Running out of code points

From: Philippe Verdy (
Date: Mon Apr 24 2006 - 02:39:03 CST

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    From: "Philippe Verdy" <>
    > The main reason that will come is to protect the Unicode encoding space from abuse by other standards with different encoding policies (there are already several pushes to develop glyph encoding standards, and even if Unicode or ISO/IEC 10646 does not support this idea, neither of them will be able to resist when they will cease most of their activities, probably before the next 50 years).

    Another thing to consider is that the character encoding will progressively slow down so much in the next 50 years, that most of this actitivity by the Unicode Consortium will not attract much its members. The Unicode Consortium will probably refocus its activities on other internationalization problems (it has already taken this step by hosting ISO 15924, and the CLDR project), or on other algorithms for text handling (notably standards for corpus and libraries, dictionnary entries and annotations, possibly also tononomy and people names, full-text search algorithms including stemmers, translation standards, automatic grammatical analysis, ...), and the current work on Unicode character properties will be finally maintained by a single working group supported by ISO that will receive from the Consortium all the amendment requests and will fully complete the work.

    This will not be without problems because ISO only accepts official country representants (for votes), but the structure of ISO may also evolve in the future to accept new types of membership for non-governmental representants, working together in some officially recognized "open" working groups, and involved in non-critical votes such as minor amendments and maintenance of existing standards ; and even these amendments may be presented with a single yearly vote at the intergovernmental meetings with official country representants, that may not need to be concerned throughout the year for the development and recommandations for yearly amendments.

    For me, this seems a logical evolution that will save money and time for everyone, because I don't think that the dual work art ISO and Unicode will survive for long. But what Unicode has made for the ISO/IEC 10646 will finally be approved internationally, as it is so much important and widely used.

    Other works at the Unicode Consortium could also accept new projects such as recommandations and arbitration for the evolution and use of other standards (XML is just an example) in international contexts, and the hosting and maintenance of other related registries (for example in areas that were previously maintained by IANA now integrated into ICANN whose focus is really different now, and that has very little competence in internationalization issues, ICANN already delegating most of this work to other commitees like the IETF). The competence of the Consortium should be recognized for such projects.

    This will of course require evolution in the existing policies and mutual agreements between the various involved standard bodies (something that ISO has still not been able to coordinate completely due to its restrictive membership rules, and that leads to the progressive proliferation of private standard bodies publishing their own standards).

    In the context of globalization of exchanges, the integration of standard bodies worldwide (public or private) will become more and more important, and ISO will necessarily evolve to adapt itself to this situation, and the Consortium will also need to adapt itself (or it will die by lack of support by member organizations, stopping their membership and involvement in the UTC.)

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