Re: Stateful?

From: John H. Jenkins (
Date: Tue May 27 2008 - 11:30:01 CDT

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    On May 27, 2008, at 5:06 AM, Mark E. Shoulson wrote:

    > Russ Stygall wrote:
    >> Greetings,
    >> Could any of the users of the word "stateful" tell me what they
    >> mean by the word, and could they then put an entry into Wikipedia
    >> for everyone else?
    > It means something that can can be in one of several "states", by
    > which we mean that a given action or input or whatever can mean
    > different things depending on some other information, namely the
    > "state" that the system is in at the time.
    > So in some editors, when you're in one mode, the "k" key might mean
    > "move up one line", and in another mode it might mean "insert the
    > letter k here." Regarding David Starner's statement:
    >> Generally, things that are stateful, like language tagging
    >> and italics are not considered plain text.
    > which I presume is the origin of this question, the reference is to
    > the fact that things like language tagging and italics affect some
    > persistent memory of the system reading the text. When you hit a
    > "begin English-language text" tag, you have to remember, when
    > interpreting text, that it should be interpreted according to
    > English-language conventions, until you hit the "end" tag. That is,
    > you have to remember you are in English-language state. Same with
    > italics. To a renderer, a "k" in italic-mode is not the same as a
    > "k" in Roman mode: they get represented with different glyphs.
    > ~mark

    While true, all this is really a red herring, since statefulness isn't
    the main issue. UTF-16, after all, is stateful: if you lose the BOM,
    things can look very different.

    Unicode's criterion is minimal legibility: Information which, if
    lost, has no or very little impact on the ability of the end-user to
    read the text is, as a rule, considered formatting information and
    something to be handled by higher-level protocols. I can read the
    word "chat" even if I don't know whether it's English or French and
    therefore what it means.

    John H. Jenkins

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