Unicode [was Re: Cult-like behaviour]

Steven D'Aprano steve+comp.lang.python at pearwood.info
Mon Jul 16 06:39:49 EDT 2018

On Sun, 15 Jul 2018 18:02:51 -0700, Jim Lee wrote:

> On 07/15/18 17:17, MRAB wrote:
>> On 2018-07-16 00:10, Jim Lee wrote:
>>> Have you never heard of programming BEFORE Unicode existed?
>>> How ever did we get along?

Mostly by not exchanging data with anyone else using a different language 
or operating system.

As one of those people who *did* need to exchange data, between Windows 
using Latin-1 and Macs using MacRoman, I can absolutely tell you that we 
got on **REALLY, REALLY, REALLY BADLY** with data loss and corruption an 
almost guarantee.

> Yes, it was.  However, dealing with Unicode is also annoying.  If there
> were only one encoding, such as UTF-8, I wouldn't mind so much.


As an application developer, you should (almost) never need to use any 
Unicode encoding other than UTF-8.

> But I don't speak Esperanto,  and my programs don't generally care what
> characters are used for European currencies.  When I create a simple
> program that takes a text file (created by me) and munges it into a
> different format, I don't care if someone from Uzbekistan can read it or
> not.

Good for you.

But Python is not a programming language written to satisfy the needs of 
people like you, and ONLY people like you.

It is a language written to satisfy the needs of people from Uzbekistan, 
and China, and Japan, and India, and Brazil, and France, and Russia, and 
Australia, and the UK, and mathematicians, and historians, and linguists, 
and, yes, even people who think that if ISO-8859-7 was good enough for 
Jesus, the whole world ought to be using it.

> When I create a one-time use program to visualize some data on a
> graph, I don't care if anyone else can read the axis labels but me.
> These are realities.  A good programming language will allow for these
> realities without putting the burden on the programmer to turn *every*
> program into a politically correct, globalization compliant model of
> modern groupthink.

And here we get to the crux of the matter. It isn't really the technical 
issues of Unicode that annoy you. It is the loss of privilege that you, 
as an ASCII user, no longer get to dismiss 90% of the world as beneath 
your notice.


Steven D'Aprano
"Ever since I learned about confirmation bias, I've been seeing
it everywhere." -- Jon Ronson

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