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FW: October 2011 feedback on PRI 185 (long!)

From: Phillips, Addison <addison@lab126.com>
Date: Mon, 24 Oct 2011 08:00:02 -0700
To: "public-i18n-core@w3.org" <public-i18n-core@w3.org>
Message-ID: <131F80DEA635F044946897AFDA9AC3476AA3EE7FD9@EX-SEA31-D.ant.amazon.com>
FYI...

> -----Original Message-----
> From: public-iri-request@w3.org [mailto:public-iri-request@w3.org] On
> Behalf Of "Martin J. Dürst"
> Sent: Monday, October 24, 2011 2:32 AM
> To: public-iri@w3.org
> Cc: Mark Davis
> Subject: October 2011 feedback on PRI 185 (long!)
>
> The message below was posted to the respective forum on the Unicode
> Web site (http://www.unicode.org/forum/viewforum.php?f=34). I'm
> sending it here because it's highly relevant for our work. It is also relevant to
> IDNA and EAI.
>
>
>
> These are my comments on "Extension of UBA for improved display of
> URL/IRIs", available from http://www.unicode.org/review/pri185/, as
> modified on Sept. 22 (presumably 2011).
>
> I have commented mostly on procedural issues in the last round, but have
> taken a deeper look at technical and editorial issues this time, too. I wrote
> part of this on a very long flight, so some references are missing; if you need
> some additional pointers, don't hesitate to ask.
>
>
> Procedural Issues
> =================
>
> Opening the ability to comment via the Unicode Forum is some progress on
> the previous way of commenting via a Web form (which was essentially a
> black hole for outsiders). However, it is still very much a one-way street.
>
> This makes it difficult to involve affected communities such as the IETF
> Working Groups (WGs, or former WG) on Internationalized Domain Names,
> Email Address Internationalization, and Internationalized Resource Identifiers,
> the relevant groups at W3C, and in many ways most important, the actually
> affected users that use bidi IRIs.
>
> It also makes it difficult to find out how, and more importantly, why,
> comments have been addressed or not. It is still a far way away from how
> other organizations deal with public comments. In the W3C, providing a
> public list of all public comments and how they are addressed is standard
> practice. In the IETF, most of the discussions are held on public mailing list,
> and many WGs are using a public tracker (http://trac.tools.ietf.org/).
>
>
> Preexisting Specs and Parallel Work
> ===================================
>
> The IRI specification (RFC 3987, http://tools.ietf.org/html/rfc3987) as well as
> draft updates (http://tools.ietf.org/html/draft-ietf-iri-3987bis), and the
> specifications for Email Address Internationalization as well as their draft
> updates should be referenced at the start of the document. (There are no
> specs for file names as far as I know.) It's a good idea to point readers to
> more introductory material such as Richard Ishida's "idn-and-iri", but that's
> not enough for what is supposed to become (part of) a spec itself.
>
> RFC 3987 contains a section about the display of bidirectional IRIs (Section 4,
> http://tools.ietf.org/html/rfc3987#section-4.4). This should clearly be
> mentioned in the document. The section was written based on the following
> goals/assumptions:
>
> 1) That it would be desirable that bidi IRIs were displayed the same
> everywhere, both in places where they are identified as such (e.g. a
> browser's address/location bar) and in free text where no special processing
> could be applied to them.
>
> 2) That it was unfeasible to change the Unicode Bidirectional Algorithm
> (UBA) to deal with IRIs as a special case.
>
> The first assumption is shared by the current proposal; removing the second
> assumption is at the base of the current proposal.
>
> Now that changing (or extending) the UBA is on the table, we have to check
> what needs specifying, and where. My current take is that we have the
> following pieces:
>
> 1) Display of bidi IRIs once identified: UBA extension, with strong input from
> stakeholders in affected regions and from IRI WG.
>
> 2) Identifying IRIs in contexts: This would ideally be provided by the IETF.
> There is Appendix C of the URI spec
> (http://tools.ietf.org/html/rfc3986#appendix-C),  Delimiting a URI in Context,
> and there was at least one attempt to do something in this direction (see
> http://tools.ietf.org/html/draft-yoneya-iri-recognition-00), but no wider
> interest and no pressure for standardization (the functionality seemed to
> work well where needed (e.g. email programs) and minor differences in
> implementation seemed to hurt nobody). So there's a rather large chance
> that this remains for the UTC to do, although with strong input from the IETF.
>
> 3) Restrictions on strong directionality mixing for components such as domain
> name labels: This is done for IDNA in RFC 5893
> (http://tools.ietf.org/html/rfc5893) and is being updated and adapted based
> on the RFC 5893 effort for IRIs in the IRI WG. Input from the bidi experts in
> the UTC is greatly appreciated.
>
> We should make sure that we have got something like the above "pieces of
> the puzzle" right before we get too much into specific technical details.
>
>
> Document Target
> ===============
>
> There is talk about this being an experimental extension. Care should be
> given to be extremely clear what these two words mean, in particular
> because I don't know any other cases where this has been done in an
> Unicode context.
>
> Extension seems to mean "the bidi algorithm can be used with or without
> this". This is desirable from an implementer's perspective, but not from
> a security perspective.
>
> Experimental seems to mean "we aren't really sure yet whether this will
> fly, and whether we got the details right". It would be very good if
> this could be avoided by more careful deliberations and work up-front;
> the consequences of late changes for both security and implementers
> would be really bad.
>
> If this is an extension, I'd personally prefer this to be in a separate
> document rather than to be part of TR #9.
>
>
> Other Changes to the Bidi Algorithm
> ===================================
>
> With the exception of minor tweaks, the bidi algorithm stayed stable
> since almost 15 years. But in recent years, there has been increased
> activity with new ideas for modification, both in the bidi algorithm
> itself and on higher levels (see the HTML work initiated by Aharon
> Lanin). It looks like these changes are being added piecemeal without
> yet seeing a new horizon of stability (after their IUC talk on Tuesday
> morning, people from Microsoft said that their parenthesis detection
> solution solved 13% of reported bidi problems; that means there may
> easily be more fixes comming).
>
> But the bidi algorithm isn't an area where constant tinkering is
> advisable. It would therefore be very important that all these new
> initiatives are carefully checked against each other, and coordinated
> both in timing and in substance. It may be well advisable to wait with
> some of them so that many changes can be made 'in bulk' (the idea of an
> UBA 2.0), which will also help implementers.
>
>
> Readability and Self-Containedness of the Document
> ==================================================
>
> In order to gain valuable comments not only from total insiders, the
> document has to be much more accessible to potential commenters. This
> starts with the title and the start of the introduction, which
> explicitly should mention email addresses and filenames, because it is
> otherwise ignored by people interested in these items.
>
> The number of examples is extremely low (3). There are no examples of
> email addresses or filenames. There are no examples of non-generic
> (opaque syntax) URI schemes (e.g. mailto:,...). There are way too few
> examples to show what happens under different combinations of RTL and
> LTR components. There are no examples with realistic names (e.g.
> existing RTL top-level domains). There is a need for these to give
> people an everyday feel for the issue, while there is also a need to use
> abstract names (abc,...) to test usability when guessing is hard.
>
> [The IRI spec, RFC 3987, has 10 examples (see
> http://tools.ietf.org/html/rfc3987#section-4.4) just to explain a single
> solution to the problem.]
>
> All examples use the "uppercase is RTL" convention, which is good for
> outsiders, but doesn't show the potential end result for the people
> really affected. Parallel examples in Arabic and Hebrew are very important.
>
> [As an RFC (all US-ASCII), the IRI spec was not able to include Arabic
> or Hebrew, but we made sure we provided Arabic and Hebrew equivalents
> for the examples (see
> http://www.w3.org/International/iri-edit/BidiExamples.html) and
> referenced them from the spec. The 11th example has  been added based
> on
> feedback. These examples are generated by a Ruby script, it should not
> be too difficult to change the script to produce examples for this spec.]
>
>
> Security
> ========
>
> The document correctly notes that ambiguous displays of bidi IRIs,...
> can cause security problems. However, the document is wrong and/or
> misleading in stating and/or implying that the proposal will remove
> ambiguity and confusion, except potentially in the very long term (10 to
> 20 years). The current specification for the display of bidi IRIs (RFC
> 3987, Section 4) uses the current bidi algorithm applied in an LTR
> context. In current implementations, display in an RTL context may also
> happen. A new specification will introduce at least a third alternative.
> While it may help reduce tinkering by implementers, it still creates (at
> least) one more alternative, and this should be very, very clearly noted
> in the document.
>
> The document doesn't contain a security section, but it very clearly
> needs one. The IETF has an RFC on how to write good security sections.
>
>
> Terminology
> ===========
>
> The document uses 'fields' for e.g. individual domain name labels and
> path components. In the IETF, we have used 'component' for this; please
> align.
>
> 'surrogates' are mentioned as terminating characters. Are these
> surrogate pairs (in which case, it would be better to talk about non-BMP
> characters, but then it's totally unclear why these would terminate
> IRIs). Or are these unpaired surrogate units? In that case, I do not
> think the document should in any way prescribe how to handle stuff that
> is below the level of characters as codepoints. Otherwise, we would have
> to talk about incomplete UTF-8 byte sequences,...
>
>
> BNF, Syntax Issues
> ==================
>
> The document uses an ad-hoc and/or undefined syntactical notation. It
> says "This BNF uses a Perl-style syntax". Googling for "Perl-style" and
> "BNF" only leads to irrelevant stuff and the document itself. Please
> provide the syntax in a well-defined (with reference and syntax-checker,
> like e.g. the IETF ABNF) meta-syntax.
>
> The meta-syntax uses so-called "smart" quotes. This has to be fixed.
>
> Some non-terminals in the syntax are not defined. An example is
> <scheme>. Another is <percentEncodedUTF8>.
>
> Some non-terminals use names different from those in the IRI spec
> although they are exactly the same. An example may be
> <percentEncodedUTF8>. This seems to correspond to <pct-encoded> in the
> IRI spec. If it doesn't, then the difference may be that it assumes an
> underlying UTF-8 encoding; such an assumption would be wrong,
> <ptc-encoded> can be used to represent raw bytes both in URIs and in IRIs.
>
> The document only deals with the so-called "generic" syntax of IRIs. It
> always requires a double slash and a domain name after the scheme.
> However, many schemes do not use the "generic" syntax. An example is the
> mailto scheme; mailto:user@domain.tld would not be matched by the
> algorithm.
>
> The document doesn't allow <iuserinfo> and <iport> components in the
> <iauthority> part (where it simply uses <domain>). Why were they
> excluded? Including additional syntax won't lead to many more false
> positives (because such strings look even more like IRIs than those
> without these components) and will avoid some false negatives.
>
> With respect to potentially syntactically significant characters (i.e.
> all ASCII symbols), the document uses an approach completely different
> from the IRI spec, which makes checking of differences nearly
> impossible. Substractions in character classes are particularly confusing.
>
> The use of character classes, in particular
> [[:L:][:N:][:M:][:S:][:Pd:][:Pc:][:Cf:]..., makes the syntax unreadable
> except to a very small set of regexperts, which have only a small
> overlap with Bidi and Uri experts. The IRI spec above ASCII excludes
> extremely little (just C1, the surrogate area, and non-characters, even
> private characters are allowed in query parts). It is unclear from the
> above cryptic syntax what is excluded, and why, and in asmuch as rare
> stuff is excluded, this doesn't really help making the extraction more
> precise.
>
> There should be a complete list of ASCII symbol characters with their
> role/function in the IRI spec and in this spec. This is the best way to
> check for completeness. As an example, in the current syntax, "-" and
> "~" don't appear anywhere. Are they supposed to be included or excluded?
>
> The IDN Label separators from IDNA 2003 are included despite the fact
> that they are not relevant in IDNA 2008 and they have never been allowed
> in IRIs. These definitely do appear in practice, but how often will they
> appear in IRIs involving RTL? My guess is that this chance is extremely
> low. If I had to cut corners, this is one instance where I'd do so; if
> somebody really cares about correct bidi display of an IRI with both RTL
> and ideographs, they should be able to use simple dots.
>
> Related, the use of UTS46 probably offers too much leeway. Some
> restriction, e.g. in the symbol area (and in the area of compatibility
> characters), could bring some benefits for detection. After all, the
> overlap between leftovers from IDNA 2003 vanity symbol domain names and
> bidi-containing domain names can be assumed to be vanishingly small.
>
> The <domain> rules allow a label separator at the end. This is
> technically correct, and allowed in URIs and IRIs (which don't deal at
> all with the internal structure of domain names, because in their place,
> names from other registry mechanisms could also be used). However, my
> guess is that a label separator at the end in vanishingly small in
> practice these days, and it might help excluding them for better precision.
>
> The termination criterion includes unassigned (see also below re.
> dynamic updates), surrogates (see also above re. terminology),
> private-use, and control-code (what is meant by that exactly? C0+C1, or
> something else?) characters. My guess is that except the control codes,
> this really doesn't help much. Unassigned characters are by definition
> not used.
>
> The explanation of the extraction/termination of IRIs is a mess. This is
> a place where an algorithmic description will help most. E.g. something
> along the lines of:
> For detecting all IRIs in a given text, repeatedly scan for the first
> place where the IRI syntax matches, and take the longest match. Remove
> any final characters from that longest match to obtain a matched IRI,
> and continue detecting from the character immediately following the
> longest match.
> (I'm not sure I got the details right (e.g. does only one dot get
> removed at the end, or two if there are two,...?), but that's the style
> I'd like to see here, because then I'd actually understand what's
> supposed to go on.)
>
> RTL (and other non-ASCII) scheme names/alternates are clearly not
> allowed at this time, and there are no plans at all to introduced them.
> However, it would be prudent in my opinion to
> a) explore how the various solutions work if ever RTL schemes are
> considered, and
> b) if possible to define the algorithm so that it continues to work even
> in the event that they are introduced, rather than having to go through
> an additional revision.
>
> The filename syntax doesn't include the very common Windows drive letter
> syntax.
>
> There should be a list of syntactic differences between this spec and
> the IRI spec, with explanations, so that readers can jugde each
> difference on its merit rather than have to spend their time chasing
> details.
>
> The spec seems to give some special status to some Latin-1 symbols
> (inverted exclamation mark, middle dot, inverted question mark). It is
> totally unclear why. The IRI spec is very clear that only ASCII symbols
> can take syntactic roles (there is no difference here between URIs and
> IRIs), and if there is some reason to include other symbol-like
> characters at some point in the syntax, there are clearly many many more
> such characters than just those in Latin-1.
>
>
> Dynamic Updates?
> ================
>
> The use of the list of top level domains at IANA is interesting because
> it provides quite some help to separate IRIs from non-IRIs. However, it
> is unclear whether the general expectation is that software should be
> dynamically updated with the IANA list, or whether it's okay to have
> longer release cycles. ICANN is apparently increasing the number of
> registrations per year, and many non-ASCII TLDs still remain to be
> defined. This means that with longer release cycles (e.g. smaller pieces
> of software that don't have a built-in update mechanism) in the mix,
> there will always be some discrepancy. This will create a highly
> undesirable long delay from registration to wide usability of a new TLD.
>
> A similar issue appears with unassigned characters that are used as a
> termination criterion. These also will change from Unicode version to
> version.
>
>
> Orders
> ======
>
> http://tools.ietf.org/agenda/79/slides/iri-0.pdf, presented (remotely)
> at IETF 79, contains slides 19-23. In particular, slide 23 shows four
> possible solutions. Solution #2 on that slide is equivalent to Option 1
> in the document under review. Options 2, 3, and 4 are essentially
> context/content-dependent variable choices from the table on slide 23.
> (Similar kinds of overview tables may make this document way more easy
> to understand.)
>
> The paragraph mentioning "big-endian" order in Option 1 is quite
> irrelevant. Users who are used to some given sequence of components and
> want to either see that sequence preserved (keep component order
> strictly LTR) or converted to their preferred directionality (change to
> have component order strictly go RTL) don't necessarily care about
> ultimate logic at all.
>
> Option 1 has the disadvantage that even IRIs with RTL components only
> can use an LTR component order, which seems quite unnatural.
>
> At the Unicode conference, on Tuesday morning, the group from Microsoft
> explained that preference for component order was not uniform, and not
> context- or content-dependent, but depended on country: Israel strongly
> preferred LTR component order, while many (but not all) Arabic countries
> preferred RTL order. According to their words, the situation was similar
> to what happens in Math, but there was no 100% correlation.
>
>
> Regards,   Martin.

Received on Monday, 24 October 2011 15:12:21 UTC

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