Re: proposal for a "Standard-Exit" or "Namespace" character

From: William_J_G Overington (
Date: Tue Apr 14 2009 - 07:16:07 CDT

  • Next message: William_J_G Overington: "Re: proposal for a "Standard-Exit" or "Namespace" character"

    On Tuesday, 14 April 2009, Dennis Heuer <> wrote:

    > My keyboard certainly doesn't have a way for me to type totally new characters that haven't even been encoded yet!

    Well, not with a specific key for the character.

    However, in Microsoft WordPad on a PC, if one holds down the Alt key of the keyboard and then uses the number keys at the right side of the keyboard and then releases the Alt key, one can get the character.

    For example, the second character of plane 10 is not encoded.

    The code would be U+A0001 where A0001 is hexadecimal. Converting to decimal format, I often use Microsoft Calculator in View Scientific mode for such conversions, one gets the number 655361 as the result.

    So entering Alt 655361 into WordPad generates the character code, which will then display the .notdef character of the font being used.

    Actually, I found that trying the above exercise with U+A0000 does not show the .notdef character in WordPad.

    So, realizing that none of plane 10 is encoded, I wondered what happens with the first character of plane 15, which is in a Private Use Area. That does not work either.

    However, using the Alt method does work well for many code points in plane 15. I have used it for various experiments.

    So, if you do wish to choose a Private Use Area code point for your experiments, then entering the code point into an application such as WordPad from an ordinary keyboard is straightforward.

    WordPad then allows the character to be saved in a Unicode Text Document.

    I note that you are considering a "Standard-Exit" character.

    My own approach is that I think in terms of expressing what I need to express as new Unicode characters rather than seeking to step outside of Unicode.

    For example, characters for italic and bold and /italic and /bold.

    These new characters could be tried and tested using codes in one or more of the Private Use Areas with a view to proposing at some future time for the characters to be encoded in regular Unicode.

    Whether the Unicode Technical Committee would accept such a proposal to encode would depend on circumstances at the time.

    In fairness I need to say that my present feeling is that there would be great opposition to such an encoding. Yet times change, as the recent matter of encoding the emoji has shown.

    My own view is that it would be good to encode such mini-markup characters with the condition that they be encoded in an otherwise unused plane, such as plane 10 or plane 11, where they could be regarded as ignorable by any software applications that did not wish to use them. I am unaware of any shortage of space within the higher Unicode planes and feel that it would be good to provide for new facilities.

    There appears to me to be a need for Plain Text Plus, which is handled as characters in the same manner as Plain Text and is non-proprietary.

    Yet I am, at the present time, in a great minority in my views on this matter.

    William Overington

    14 April 2009

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