[rfc-i] How lack of Unicode support in IDs is detrimental to design

Phillip Hallam-Baker hallam at gmail.com
Fri Jul 27 14:04:27 PDT 2012

Might the history of DNS implementation been different if there had
been an example of a non-ASCII DNS label?

On Fri, Jul 27, 2012 at 4:03 PM, Andrew Sullivan <ajs at anvilwalrusden.com> wrote:
> On Fri, Jul 27, 2012 at 09:39:45PM +0200, Martin Rex wrote:
>> It would be a real nightmare (for the document authors and the document
>> consumers) if every single document that uses DNS had to deal with
>> Unicode to A-label conversion over and over and over again.
> What in the world does U-label/A-label conversion have to do with
> anything Phill was talking about?  U-label/A-label conversion is
> indeed well-understood and well-specified somewhere, and so it's
> possible just to point to that.
> But Phill was talking about a case where he is planning to put UTF-8
> _in the protocol_, and make that UTF-8 significant in the protocol;
> and he was quite correctly pointing out that providing zero examples
> to show how this could happen is an excellent way to ensure that some
> underpaid contract programmer with half an attention span will
> implement the protocol in the future without handling the UTF-8
> encoded protocol fields, and then there'll be an interoperability
> problem.  I agree with him.  (Indeed, the comparison with DNS is a
> good one, but in support of Phill's conclusion: all sorts of things we
> are or have been saddled with in the DNS are/were there because some
> developer read the examples but didn't understand the protocol.  This
> extends right down to the indifferent attention paid to the protocol
> instruction that labels are octets, not ASCII strings.)
> I have mostly tuned out of this discussion recently because of a
> vexing pattern of behaviour.  Every time someone suggests even the
> most modest accommodation to facts about the computing environment
> since, say, 1990 -- the rise of Unicode, the wide variety of display
> environments, the decline almost to irrelevance of fixed-line and
> length formats and terminal-type displays, the decline of printed
> matter in many computing environments, the complete lack of support by
> printers of older-style formatting -- some helpful reactionary is
> there to deny that any of these issues are even remotely important to
> him (it seems always to be him) and that therefore the topic is
> closed.  It's hard to see what the value is in participating in such a
> fruitless "discussion".
> Regards,
> A
> --
> Andrew Sullivan
> ajs at crankycanuck.ca
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