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Re: [xml-dev] RE: There is a serious amount of character encodingconversions occurring inside our computers and on the Web

On Fri, Dec 28, 2012 at 3:38 PM, Michael Kay <mike@saxonica.com> wrote:
> On 28/12/2012 19:45, Chris Maloney wrote:
>> Roger,
>> Here is a classic post from XML.com that is right in line with the
>> topic of character encodings that you have been posting about
>> recently, titled "XML on the web has failed":
>> http://www.xml.com/pub/a/2004/07/21/dive.html
> Well, it's a very sensible article spoilt by a very silly title.

I agree with this.  When I first read it, several years ago, it seemed
to me that the problems he was describing were disastrous and
implacable.  Now, not so much.

I guess the main problems he points out are solved just by making sure
your server always uses the "charset" parameter with the HTTP
content-type header.  The other problems, such as static caching of
news feeds, would/should be solved by using proper transcoders within
those caching systems.

It makes interesting reading, though, insofar as it serves to
illustrate that the things Roger was marveling about, how all these
encodings are handled seemlessly and invisibly, doesn't just happen by
magic; there's a lot of engineering behind the scenes.

>  What the
> title should be is "XML has failed to solve the problem of character
> miscoding", and that of course is true, and is inevitably true, because so
> long as we have programs exchanging "strings" with each other (whether by
> procedure calls, on the wire, or via file storage) without also exchanging
> reliable and secure metadata about the character encoding of those strings,
> character miscoding will continue to be a problem. XML has done its bit to
> solve that problem, and has made a useful contribution (as has HTTP), but
> there's no way XML can solve the problem on its own.
> Just consider: can we ban people from using text editors that allow you to
> put encoding="utf-8" in an XML declaration when the file is actually iso
> 8859-1? Until we can, how can we solve the miscoding problem?
> Michael Kay
> Saxonica
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