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Re: [ddlm-group] [THREAD 4] UTF8

James has asked for the views of those of us who have just been watching this discussion (it seems to go by faster than I can follow).

For what is is worth, my stance is strongly the same as James'.  He has laid out all the argumemts very succinctly - I will just briefly reinforce those I think most importatn.

1. Permitting one or more other encodings (presumably these must constitute a well defined list as their names must be recognized) immediately invites people to use them.  To quote Nick, if we have a standard it should be a standard.  If people decide to bend the standard they do so at their own peril.

2. If other encodings are depricated (yes, that word again) in order to encourage people to use the real standard, they are likely to be unaware that their program has used a depricated encoding and therefore has failed to identify it.  If the writer of the CIF knows that it is using a depricated standard it can make the conversion.  Only if it does not know it is using a depricated standard and therefore neither converts nor identifies the encoding will the depricated encoding get through.

3. Providing a space (at this stage) for identifying encodings that may (or may not) later become part of the standard is unnecessary since it can be added if and when such other encodings are allowed.  UTF-8 then becomes the default.

4. Having a single standard requires that the readers need only consider one encoding and the writers need only support a conversion from the native to the CIF2 standard.  Allowing 5 or 10 other encodings makes life easier for the writer since it does not have to provide any conversion, but there is a price.  Every reader must be able to read 5 or 10 different encodings because it is not allowed to reject any of the depricated standardss.  With a single standard the IUCr may or may not decide that they will handle different encodings, but that is their choice.  Making different encodings legal removes that choice from the reader: it has to handle all possibilities, which is only likely to discourage people writing local programs for occasional use.

fn:I.David Brown
org:McMaster University;Brockhouse Institute for Materials Research
adr:;;King St. W;Hamilton;Ontario;L8S 4M1;Canada
title:Professor Emeritus
tel;work:+905 525 9140 x 24710
tel;fax:+905 521 2773

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