[rfc-i] Data point [Re: Fwd:I-D ACTION:draft-hoffman-utf8-rfcs-03.txt]

Joe Touch touch at ISI.EDU
Wed Oct 8 15:09:42 PDT 2008

Hash: SHA1

Hi, Dave,

Dave CROCKER wrote:
> Joe Touch wrote:
>> 2. we cannot proceed without useful tools:
> As usual, you are cutting to a core point.  Thanks for doing that.
> And it does seem to represent a commonly-held view in this discussion.
> Unfortunately, I think it's a distraction:
>      Does anyone really doubt that a) there are tools that can generate
> utf-8, and b) the RFC-specific tools can be modified to generate utf-8? 
> I certainly don't.

Generating UTF-8 is fine; we agree on that. Such tools need not be
nearly as ubiquitous or support legacy systems as those for

> I suggest that we really have only one difficult challenge, here, when
> discussing enhancement to the document format:
>      What does it do to the installed base of readers?

Right - this is the key question. And printers, which isn't quite the
same as readers.

> The other questions are about the features we want and about tools and
> scenarios that take advantage of the enhancements, but again, does
> anyone believe these can't be worked out reasonably?  I don't.
> In contrast it appears that there is a very real problem in having
> enhanced documents show up in un-enhanced environments.   Yet protecting
> the existing base of use is a requirement.

That's the key concern.

> As soon as someone says that a reader has to follow a new procedure, get
> new software, or otherwise change things, we have broken the installed
> base.  It does not matter how supposedly simple the change.
> The power of the current model is that any platform, off the shelf, can
> display and print RFCs usably.
> (Eleven years ago, I was met a bright, eager guy who had taken the
> initiative to read RFCs.  It was a little bizarre to merely give the guy
> my name and have him tell me that I had written some RFCs.  This was in
> Borneo and it was a good lesson on the power of making these documents
> completely accessible, not just in publication policy, but in data
> encoding, reproducability and displayability.)
> Based on the latest tests with utf-8, it appears clear that raw utf-8
> does not yet enjoy that level of utility.

Right - that's my conclusion too, but I'm not sure we're all on that
page yet.

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