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Why Join Unicode


As you know, the Unicode Standard is the single, universal character standard for all text. It has widespread implementation and usage, and is the foundation of modern computer architectures and the character infrastructure of the Internet and the World Wide Web. Maintained and updated by the Unicode Consortium, the Unicode Standard is the core technology that enables your entry into technical, international, and world growth markets, while maintaining a secure software environment.

Because Unicode is such fundamental technology, your business is very dependent on the stability and future extensions of the standard, even though it may not be apparent to you. Joining the Unicode Consortium is important to your business for many reasons, including to:

  • protect your investment in software development
  • advance the standard to meet your requirements
  • power modern global applications
  • demonstrate industry leadership

The work of the Unicode Consortium, a non-profit, 501(c)(3) charitable organization, is ongoing. Substantial work remains to extend the structure for a more global internet, cultural adaptations, and applications interoperability, such as for mobile computing. Maintaining the stability of the Unicode Standard and associated standards also is paramount: backward compatibility of current implementations must be maintained, requiring the attention and efforts of the membership. To carry on its work, the Consortium relies on continued support by its membership.

Advantages of Membership

The Unicode Consortium has a broad membership from different countries, with a mix of vendors, governments, and other organizations. Your company can gain important benefits by participating in the Unicode Consortium, including: ensuring stability and security of the standard, having advance knowledge of leading edge technologies, securing an industry leadership image, directing the course of the standard, and keeping abreast of other members. Membership provides opportunities for leadership in your user community and with your key partners. It improves your ability to plan product strategy and stay competitive. The total cost of membership to an organization is a modest investment compared to the resulting benefits.

Protect your investment

The Unicode Standard must incorporate new characters, update character properties and algorithms, and still maintain the stability of the standard to meet the needs of its users. In this way, the Unicode Standard will continue to serve as information technology’s single universal character set.

A strong consortium is required to maintain the stability of the standard in view of the pressure to change character properties or deprecate specific characters. Such requests must be carefully assessed to determine whether they are improvements and whether they cause problems for your existing implementations, for the long-term viability of your data and your customers' data, and for the long-term maintenance of production application environments. The way to protect your investment in the Unicode Standard and Unicode locale data is to actively work to promote their stability.

Participation as a Unicode member also allows for a coherent and unified approach to other organizations, providing additional weight when dealing with issues that are crucial to the members, such as the of stability of language or country codes that are core to the identification of locales in your software, or the stability of other fundamental standards.

Advance the standard to meet your requirements

Through your votes, your proposals and your participation in the Unicode Technical Committee, you can influence the standard to meet your requirements, as well as the requirements of your user community, your industry, and your key partners.

There are continual requirements for new characters and mechanisms, especially in the large and growing Asian markets. Mobile computing, particularly in Japan, is driving the use of many new symbols. Unicode and related standards must evolve to meet these needs to avoid the emergence of incompatible standards that would necessitate expensive and time-consuming re-architecture of your software products. When the Chinese government created the encoding standard GB 18030 and legislated that new products support it, members of the Unicode Consortium validated the mappings to Unicode, and worked to ensure interoperability, allowing businesses to avoid re-architecting their applications to support multiple simultaneous character sets.

Interoperability is key to success in most businesses today, especially in dealing with heterogeneous systems. Adding new Unicode properties and other specifications reduces customer complaints caused by inconsistent behavior in your products.

Enhancing the character repertoire of Unicode expands market reach and productivity without making existing software obsolete. These policies extend the lifetime and the revenue-earning capabilities of Unicode-based software applications. Governments continue to define and refine character repertoires as well, which can also require additions to the standard. For example, the creation of the new European currency, the euro, required the addition of its symbol to Unicode; other currency symbols have also been added recently.

Power modern global applications

Employing Unicode in software projects yields improvements in productivity, simplified project designs, ease of integration and other advantages that result in successful, portable, profitable projects.

If global reach is important to your business, membership in the Unicode Consortium can give you access to important advance technological information and experts from around the world. Consortium members have early access to draft proposals and information shared between the Unicode Consortium and other organizations, including standards bodies, which assist in advancing computing technologies. Member companies therefore benefit from an early opportunity to plan product strategies. In this way you can anticipate key trends and provide timely support to your users and partners as the industry evolves.

The Unicode Consortium provides the industry-friendly interface to the world of internationalization standards. Through its alignment with ISO/IEC 10646 and the collation standard ISO/IEC 14651, the Unicode Standard is effectively endorsed by governments around the world. Close cooperation and formal liaison with ISO committees ensures that additions to these standards remain synchronized in character repertoire, encoding, and default ordering. The maintenance of synchrony in repertoire between these standards helps ensure that government procurement requirements do not present an obstacle to sales. The Consortium also encourages member companies to participate in national standards bodies, such as INCITS/L2 for U.S. companies. (See also: Economic benefits of standards.)

The ongoing activities of the Consortium adapt the Unicode Standard to a widening variety of applications and new technologies such as Web Services. The Unicode Consortium works closely with the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C); for example, the two organizations maintain a joint technical report that describes best practices for using the Unicode Standard in the context of markup languages, such as XML. The Unicode Consortium also works with the IETF to ensure that that important IETF specifications meet internationalization requirements, such as those for international domain names, languages, and charsets.

Through membership in the Consortium, your company can also tap into the pool of experts that work on important writing systems; for example, the Ideographic Rapporteur Group with delegates from the countries that use Chinese, Japanese, and Korean characters.

Demonstrate industry leadership

The Unicode Standard is intimately connected with software internationalization and globalization, with member companies being considered experts. Membership in the Unicode Consortium makes a strong statement to your customers that your products and business will be able to accommodate their requirements when they are ready to expand globally.

Consortium members contribute to the development of a leading technology standard, and thus are well-positioned to provide education and realistic visions of industry trends to help their user communities and key partners prepare strategies to be more competitive. This effective leadership can increase your customer loyalty and business opportunities.

The Consortium leads the ongoing incorporation of minority language scripts into the Unicode Standard. This work preserves world culture and creates new opportunities to extend the reach of existing applications. It also allows members to demonstrate their commitment to serve the communities in which they do business, and to be publicly associated with the preservation of cultural heritage.

The Unicode Standard depends on active participation from individuals employed by its member organizations. Many participants are experts in internationalization, character encodings, linguistics, typography or other fields related to text processing or rendering. Active participation in the development of the Unicode Standard helps your employees improve their technology and leadership skills. In addition to networking with other experts in the field, your employees further their knowledge of consensus building, negotiation, principles of robust software specification, and design. They find innovative solutions to complex technical problems, fostering creative problem-solving skills.

Continuing Support

Many may think that Unicode is complete, and with over 140,000 characters, the Unicode Standard does include the vast majority of characters in use around the world.

However, Unicode is far more than just characters.

Without the properties, algorithms, and other specifications in the Unicode Standard and associated standards, there would be no interoperability between different implementations. Ongoing enhancements to the Unicode Standard character properties, the Unicode locales project, and other specifications further improve text processing and rendering, and provide solutions to practical problems encountered by members.

The Consortium publishes the standards, algorithms, and data necessary for advanced software applications in the broader field of Unicode and software globalization, such as Unicode in regular expressions. These features must be maintained and updated to meet the needs of members, while always ensuring the requisite stability for current implementations. The UnicodeConsortium also plays a vital part in ensuring that other important standards meet the requirements of its members.

The Unicode Consortium seeks and welcomes new members to join in these important activities.

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