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   RE: [xml-dev] XML and mainframes, yet again (was RE: [xml-dev] Some comm

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> -----Original Message-----
> From: Elliotte Rusty Harold [mailto:elharo@metalab.unc.edu]
> Sent: Saturday, December 15, 2001 8:08 AM
> To: Champion, Mike; xml-dev@lists.xml.org
> Subject: Re: [xml-dev] XML and mainframes, yet again (was RE: 
> [xml-dev]
> Some comments on the 1.1 draft)
> The issue is not IBM databases and never has been. The issue is that 
> IBM has some brain damaged text editors that insert a #x85 every time 
> you hit the return key instead of inserting a #xA or #xD or both. 
> Files created with these editors are not well-formed XML without an 
> additional conversion pass. Similarly, IBM has some programming 
> languages and tools that generate a #x85 when they do a println() or 
> that language's equivalent.  That's all.

Ahhh, thanks for the reminder.  

> This has nothing to do with letting data move from IBM databases into 
> XML. It has everything to do with IBM not wanting to update their 
> software to the standards the rest of the world has been using for 
> more than 20 years. 

Unicode seems to be the operative standard here and I just don't follow the
argument that NEL is not a "standard" newline character.  The whole point of
XML 1.1, I thought, was to defer decisions on character semantics to
Unicode.  I don't claim to know much about this subject, but
http://www.unicode.org/unicode/reports/tr13/ says quite plainly: "Even if
you know which characters represents NLF on your particular platform, on
input and in interpretation, treat CR, LF, CRLF, and NEL the same."  In what
sense is it brain damaged for an EBCDIC editor to insert NEL at the end of a
line?  The XML 1.1 proposal to treat CR, LF, CRLF, and NEL equally on input
and in interpretation, as Unicode prescribes, seems quite sensible to me.
Nevertheless, I will very happily concede this whole point about XML 1.1 and
Unicode NEL if someone can explain why mainframe/EBCDIC conventions used for
50 years are somehow less "standard" than Unix/DOS/Windows conventions used
for 30 years.

Like most of us above the age of 35 or so, I have unpleasant memories of the
days when the capital of the Evil Empire was Armonk NY rather than Redmond
WA. If this were just something that IBM and only IBM had to fix, I wouldn't
shed a single tear or write a line of sympathy.    If the argument is really
about making the perpetrators pay for their brain-deadedness, consider this:
even if IBM did "fix" their software, it would be a massive expense and
hassle for their tens of thousands of mainframe customers to update their
tools and software.  This must be several orders of magnitude more expensive
for the mainframe world than for the relative handful of XML tool vendors to
update, which they will be doing anyway if XML 1.1 comes out. 

I hope I'm missing something obvious here: I'm going to have a hard time
explaining to folks that XML is standards-based, language-neutral,
platform-neutral, and vendor-neutral ... but that some standards and
platforms and vendors are more neutral than others.  


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