Re: Major site in unicode?

From: Doug Ewell (
Date: Mon Oct 02 2000 - 02:57:29 EDT

>> I assume that "the ISO standard" refers to ISO/IEC 8859-1 and
>> possibly 8859-2 as well. Unicode is an ISO standard too (ISO/IEC
>> 10646-1).
> So if my browser is set to ISO 8859-1 or ISO 8859-2, but a
> Central Euopean or Western European site is only in Unicode, then all
> will show up correctly?

If your browser is old enough that it can only be "set to" a single
character set, and this setting cannot be overridden by a "charset=X"
tag in the HTML page, then no, it will not be displayed correctly. But
this sort of rigidity is not present in modern browsers.

>> The browser you are thinking of is Netscape Navigator (pre-4.7).
>> Support for Unicode in all browsers is improving steadily, and as it
>> does, your 'adamant' programmers will end up using Unicode-encoded
>> sites without even realizing it.
> When? 5 years from now? As for using Unicode without realizing
> it, what do you mean? If a Russian's browser is set to CP1251, what
> happens if the site is in Unicode? At present he gets garbage. I've
> tried the setting that automatically changes to the character set of
> the page. Doesn't work very well. I think the character set
> indication gets left out in many sites.

Browsers are supposed to be able to switch automatically to the
character set used by the target page, but they cannot necessarily do
this blindly by auto-detecting the character set. It is supposed to be
indicated by the page using the "charset=X" tag. Sites that do not do
this are not giving browsers a fair chance to display the page
properly. This is not the fault of Unicode or the browser, but of the
HTML author.

> I don't disagree with this. It's just at present moment, Netscape
> and Explorer don't seem ready. What would really be needed is the
> browser automatically detects the site as being in Unicode, and
> switches to that character set. Then sites could switch over without
> worry. That is not the case at the moment. So the user has to
> change the character set himself.

Try using a recent version of your favorite browser (IE version 5.0 or
above, or NN version 4.7 or above).

I think the real problem here is that you, your team, and your users
in Russia are working with older versions of software that did not
properly handle Unicode, and are assuming that newer versions will not
support Unicode either. Thankfully, this is not the case.

-Doug Ewell
 Fullerton, California

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