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I have another comment.
What is that those users have actually been asking for? What is their
actual need? Do they want to be able to display and/or enter a rare
character when using a user interface that doesn't support that character
If so, isn't this entirely a software issue? Can't existing XML browsers
and editors just be extended so as to support *names* for characters, and we
leave the encodings alone?
For example, if I want to enter a ? (the cyrillic character) using a
keyboard that does not support cyrillic, I can currently use some
OS-specific means (say, the character map applet in Windows plus a
copy/paste). If an XML editor had the inherent ability to accept any
Unicode character by opening a dialog box showing a list of Unicode names,
that would be sufficient for many purposes. Likewise, if an XML viewer had
the ability to display the Unicode name of a rare Unicode character when the
cursor is above a character, that could be sufficient for many purposes.
If some program needs to cope with display hardware that doesn't know how to
display a ? , the software itself can be written so as to show the Unicode
name of the ? (CYRILLIC CAPITAL LETTER SHCHA) or some shorter local
designation, instead of a small square.
Recalling one of the cases mentioned, can't an XML editor (as a
product-specific feature) allow the user to enter something like
and change it on the fly to the Unicode character NON-BREAK SPACE
depending on the context? Can't this XML editor subsequently display a tool
tip over the character? Do we really need to *encode* the NON-BREAK
SPACE as a byte sequence & n b s p ; ?
What fraction of those use cases would be left out, if the issue were
regarded as a software issue?