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[Cif2-encoding] Let's all take a deep breath...
- To: Group for discussing encoding and content validation schemes for CIF2 <cif2-encoding@xxxxxxxx>
- Subject: [Cif2-encoding] Let's all take a deep breath...
- From: James Hester <jamesrhester@xxxxxxxxx>
- Date: Mon, 27 Sep 2010 09:46:49 +1000
Well, I didn't even manage to properly call a vote and everybody has piled in, Simon even managed to vote twice (and that's quite OK Simon, we are trying to determine what the will of the group is and so I think it only reasonable that if somebody's assessment of the situation changes that they can 'update' their vote). I am however unhappy that both Brian and Simon introduced new concerns and nobody has had a chance to comment on how the various proposals under consideration might affect those concerns. I would therefore like to suggest that the voting period continues until the end of this week, and that we all endeavour to express any concerns or comments that we need to make in a timely fashion. I will be commenting on Brian and Simon's concerns presently, and also on Herbert's proposal, which I have not subjected to my hopefully not too long-winded scrutiny. None of us should feel steamrolled by a certain artifical urgency that has appeared in the dialogue - while we do need to wrap things up in a timely fashion, it has only been 4 days since I even started discussing the vote. Some initial general comments (I will comment separately on Brian and Simon's issues). (i) We are *not* in an infinite loop. The last few months have seen several proposals analysed and explored, and it is my perception that these discussions have led at least some participants (including myself) to a better understanding of the consequences of what they are proposing. So nobody should feel that throwing out a new criticism of an old or new proposal is somehow hindering progress by looping over old ground. Quite the reverse, it is making progress. What *is* important is to get your comments into the mix in a timely fashion, because time is indeed short. (ii) It is not correct to assume that we can figure out the encoding issues later. Maybe we can, but maybe we can't. Once CIF2 files are produced and software is distributed, you can't put the genie back in the bottle, by which I mean you can't easily change the way that distributed software behaves, and how files are interpreted. We have to therefore be confident that the standard we promulgate does not close off an avenue we need for solving encoding issues. (iii) It is extremely misleading to think that simply substituting UTF8 in CIF2 for ASCII in CIF1 will lead to even approximately the same results as we had for CIF1. The 'any encoding' clause in the CIF1 standard was essentially irrelevant - encodings used in the overwhelming majority of systems producing CIF1 files coincided with ASCII for CIF text, as I have said many times before, so software had no trouble in turning a stream of CIF bytes from any unknown source into the same text that the CIF writer was working from. If I repeat this point endlessly, it is only because the CIF1 approach continues to be invoked like magic fairy dust that will make everything OK, when in fact the magic fairy dust was the dominance of ASCII encoding for ASCII codepoints. There is *no such uniformity* in encoding of Unicode codepoints. We have a new problem for CIF, and whatever we do will have *new* consequences, and that very much includes the 'as for CIF1' proposal. So please, enough with the 'CIF1 has served us well for 15 years' line. (iv) The majority are currently in favour of the 'as for CIF1' approach, which if nobody changes their vote by the end of the week, is what we will be taking to the DDLm group and COMCIFS. This means we will have a pure text standard, and I mean really pure, because there is no predictable link between this beautiful textual castle in the sky and the solid ground of bytes on disk. I am a cross-platform CIF programmer. Looking forward to the halcyon 'as for CIF1' days that await us, a small question occupies my mind. As my program does not operate in that glorious abstract space occupied by pure text standards that are most certainly not anybody's laughing stock, my program will be forced to (as briefly as possible) deal with humble plebiean bytes according to some encoding to obtain the exalted CIF text. Under the 'as for CIF1' proposal, how does my program turn these bytes into text in the way that the writer of the bytes intended? If that is not yet resolved, how can anybody even write a CIF2 program? -- T +61 (02) 9717 9907 F +61 (02) 9717 3145 M +61 (04) 0249 4148 _______________________________________________ cif2-encoding mailing list firstname.lastname@example.org http://scripts.iucr.org/mailman/listinfo/cif2-encoding
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- Re: [Cif2-encoding] Let's all take a deep breath.... . (Bollinger, John C)
- Re: [Cif2-encoding] Let's all take a deep breath... (SIMON WESTRIP)
- Re: [Cif2-encoding] Let's all take a deep breath... (Herbert J. Bernstein)
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