A challenge to the ASCII proponents.

Bengt Richter bokr at oz.net
Mon Jul 21 06:03:39 CEST 2003


On 20 Jul 2003 18:56:51 -0700, steve at cyber.com.au (Steven D'Aprano) wrote:

>Alan Kennedy <alanmk at hotmail.com> wrote in message news:<3F1AAC0A.7A6326B at hotmail.com>...
>> Alan Kennedy:
>> 
>> > The final point I'd like to make [explicit] is: nobody had to ask
>> > me how or why my xml snippet worked: there were no tricks. Nobody
>> > asked for debugging information, or for reasons why they couldn't
>> > see it:
>
>Sorry Alan, but when I follow your instructions and save your XML to
>disk and open it in Opera 6.01 on Win 98, I get this:
>
>XML parsing failed: not well-formed (1:0)
>
>At least it renders visibly in my browser, although I don't think its
>rendering the way you wished. <grin>
>
>(For the record, this is the contents of the XML file, triple-quoted
>for your convenience:
>"""<?xml version="1.0" encoding="utf-8"?>
><verb>&#x3b3;&#x3af;&#x3b3;&#x3bd;&#x3c9;&#x3c3;&#x3ba;&#x3c9;</verb>""")
>
>
>[snip]
>> In summary:
>> 
>> 1. I managed to make a greek word, using the original greek glyphs,
>> appear on everyone's "rendering surface", by posting a 7-bit clean XML
>> snippet. Another poster widened the software coverage even further by
>> posting a 7-bit clean HTML snippet. Both of our 7-bit markup snippets
>> travelled safely throughout the entirety of UseNet, including all the
>> 7-bit relays and gateways.
>
>I couldn't see either rendered correctly in either Opera's newsreader
>or the Google archive.
>
>> 2. The only other person who managed it, without using markup, was
>> Martin von Loewis, who is so good at this stuff that he confidently
>> makes statements like "what I did was right: it was Google that got it
>> wrong". Martin used the UTF-8 character set, i.e. a non-ASCII,
>> non-7-bit-clean character set, to achieve this. Although I'm sure
>> Martin could have managed it with UTF-7 as well.
>
>Martin's effort did work for me in Opera's newsreader, but not in the
>Google Groups archive. But we already knew that Google broke it.
>
>> 3. If anybody else was willing to give it a try, they don't seem to
>> have had enough confidence in their knowledge of encodings, MIME,
>> transports, NNTP, etc, etc, to have actually hit the "send" button, in
>> case it didn't work. Which doesn't bode well for the average person in
>> the street: if the technology specialists in this newsgroup don't feel
>> in command of the issue, what hope for everyone else?
>
>Exactly. Which brings us back to Ben's suggestion: when writing for a
>general audience using unknown systems, stick to ASCII, or at least
>follow your rich text with a description of what your reader should
>see:
>
>"""And I can use Umlauts (äöü) -- you should see a, o and u all in
>lowercase with two dots on top."""
>
>It's a mess and I despair. It would be nice if everyone used bug-free
>XML-aware newsreaders, browsers and mail clients, but the majority
>don't. That's why I always practice defensive writing whenever I use
>any character I can't see on my keyboard, and spell it out in ASCII.
>That's not very satisfactory, but its better than some random
>percentage of your audience seeing "?????".
>
Here's a way that's been around a while (you have ghostscript, right?)

====< gignooskoo.ps >====================================
gsave 72 72 scale
/Symbol findfont 1.0 scalefont setfont
1.0 10.0 moveto (\147\151\147\156\167\163\153\167) show
showpage grestore
=========================================================


Of course, if you use tools (ms word, pdfwriter) to get that done,
you'll wind up with 24,655 bytes of resources and font info and privacy compromise
instead of 135 bytes of native PS level 1 ;-)

Or a 102-byte one-liner that may not be multipage context friendly, but should show in ghostscript:

/Symbol findfont 72 scalefont setfont 72 720 moveto (\147\151\147\156\167\163\153\167) show showpage

Regards,
Bengt Richter




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