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

John R Levine johnl at taugh.com
Wed Dec 19 06:56:57 PST 2012

> Isn't the point that the normative text MUST be unambiguous and
> universally displayable/printable? I don't think that imposes ASCII,
> but it is still a very strong constraint. In a sense, ASCII is the
> lazy way to implement that constraint.

On the computers that people use today, PDF/A is a lot easier to print and 
display than line printer ASCII.  Operating systems all know what 
applications display or print PDFs, and each character appears in exactly 
the place and font identified in the document.  If you open a line printer 
text file, it'll pick some random application (Notepad?  Word?  Some 
editor?)  maybe it'll display in a fixed pitch font, maybe it'll default 
to variable pitch.  More likely than not it'll get the characters right, 
but there have been plenty of systems that display # as a local currency 
symbol or \ as a hook-shaped sign and make other substitutions.

Line printer ASCII served us well for a long time, but it's now painfully 
obsolete.  We should get over it.

> Saying "any Unicode and any font is allowed" clearly does not meet the 
> constraint. We have to be somewhere in between.

I don't know anyone who's proposing that, so I don't understand what the 
point here is.


PS: In case it's not obvious, I'm not proposing PDF as a canonical format, 
I'm making a point.

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