[rfc-i] Character sets, was Comments on draft-iab-rfcformat

Marc Petit-Huguenin petithug at acm.org
Tue Dec 18 18:01:32 PST 2012

Hash: SHA256

On 12/18/2012 05:25 PM, John R Levine wrote:
>> Accents may or may not be 99% prevalent.  Equally, I am sure that there
>> are unicode elements which are missing from 99% of deployed machines.
>> Trying to make rules around the likely prevalence of representability of 
>> individual code points in widely deployed scripts seems a recipe for
>> unending grief.
> We've spent the past decade saying that we can't do anything that might 
> inconvenience the ever smaller number of people who use 80 character ASCII
> page printers, while totally ignoring the ever larger number who use the
> kinds of devices that people actually use these days, web browsers,
> tablets, and the like.  Really, it's time to get beyond that.

I do not have any number about this, but I would guess that the percentage of
people who want only ASCII is higher if you count only the people who actually
implement I-Ds/RFCs.  I find strange that nobody yet talked about the fact
that RFCs and I-Ds are used by very different people and for very different
usages and that the optimal presentation is highly dependent on the reason you
use a spec.  I need one format when reviewing (a format enabling annotations
sharing), another format when reading back to back to understand what it is
about (whatever works on an e-reader), and yet another format when implementing.

I am a developer, and when I have to carefully read each word and analyze the
meaning of each sentence, there is no better support for me than a printed
page in ASCII.  In this mode I do not care about anything that is before the
RFC 2119 section or after the Normative References section - put Unicode
characters, images, embed sound clips in them if you want.  But between these
sections, it should be ASCII and ASCII only.

> While I agree that it would probably not be a great idea to fill our RFCs
> with glyphs used only in classical Tibetan, it wouldn't be hard to pick a
> profile of commonly used Unicode characters, e.g. the ones that IDNA2008
> allows, and tell people that if their display device doesn't handle them,
> it's time to upgrade, or if they just can't, to use the ugly downgraded
> version of the documents.

- -- 
Marc Petit-Huguenin
Email: marc at petit-huguenin.org
Blog: http://blog.marc.petit-huguenin.org
Profile: http://www.linkedin.com/in/petithug
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