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Re: [Cif2-encoding] How we wrap this up

This is perhaps irrelevant if James's compromise gains as much traction as it seems poised to do, but

On Wednesday, September 29, 2010 5:26 AM, Brian McMahon wrote:
>In the real world, a need may arise to exchange CIFs constructed in
>non-canonical encodings. ("Canonical" probably means UTF-8 and/or
>UTF-16). Such a need would involve some transcoding strategy.
>What is the actual likelihood of that need arising?
>I would characterise James's position as "not very, and even less
>if the software written to generate CIFs is constrained to use
>canonical encodings within the standard".
>I would characterise the position of the rest of us as "reasonable to
>high, so that we wish to formulate the standard in a way that
>recognises non-canonical encodings and helps to establish or at
>least inform appropriate transcoding strategies".

I was about to deny that as a valid characterization of my position, but after some consideration I realized that it does cover me.  Good wordsmithing.

My divergence from the pack is probably over the mechanism by which I suppose CIFs must be exchanged. I view CIFs constructed via most encodings as inherently unsuitable for exchange, at least if they contain non-ASCII characters.  Hence, the needed transcoding strategy (absent some established agreement otherwise) must be for the originator of the exchange to first transcode into a canonical encoding.  From there springs my continued advocacy for options that in fact provide a canonical encoding.

>There appear to be
>strong disagreements among us, but in fact there's a lot of common
>ground, and a drafting exercise would probably move us towards a
>Do you agree that that is a fair assessment?


>If so, we can analyse further: what are the implications of mandating
>a canonical encoding or not if judgement (a) is wrong and if judgement
>(b) is wrong? My feeling is that the world will not end - or even
>change very much - in any case; but it could determine whether we
>need to formulate an optimal transcoding strategy now, or can defer
>it to a later date.
>However, if anyone thinks this is just another diversion, I'll drop
>this line of approach so as not to slow things down even more.

This may be a useful avenue to pursue, but I suggest we table it pending the response to James's compromise proposal.


John C. Bollinger, Ph.D.
Department of Structural Biology
St. Jude Children's Research Hospital

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