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CharMod restricts closed systems

From: Cliff Schmidt <cschmidt@microsoft.com>
Date: Fri, 7 Jun 2002 01:21 +0900
To: www-i18n-comments@w3.org
Cc: cschmidt@microsoft.com (Cliff Schmidt)
Message-Id: <20020606162139.3C8C9C4F@toro.w3.mag.keio.ac.jp>

This is a last call comment from Cliff Schmidt (cschmidt@microsoft.com) on
the Character Model for the World Wide Web 1.0
(http://www.w3.org/TR/2002/WD-charmod-20020430/).

Semi-structured version of the comment:

Submitted by: Cliff Schmidt (cschmidt@microsoft.com)
Submitted on behalf of (maybe empty): Microsoft
Comment type: substantive
Chapter/section the comment applies to: Overall
The comment will be visible to: public
Comment title: CharMod restricts closed systems
Comment:
In the effort to improve interoperability of text exchange across open applications on the Web, the Character Model should not restrict the ability for closed systems to leverage the Web and Web-based technologies.  The term "closed system", as used in this document, refers to a system designed to support organizations communicating among themselves based on a contract into which all parties have explicitly entered.

The background of this spec states that "the Web may be seen as a single, very large application...rather than as a collection of small independent applications."  Based on this premise, it is understandable why the CharMod spec chooses to require early normalization in a single canonical form. However, the Web and technologies that have developed to support the Web have also provided enormous value to closed systems, including intranet and extranet scenarios.  The relationship between the evolution of the World Wide Web and its use in closed/private systems has been a mutually beneficial one.  Private systems have benefited from the efficiencies of applying Web-developed standards and tools, which has in-turn increased the demand and support for these Web-enabling components.  The current Character Model spec threatens to break this relationship by forcing restrictions on tools that are commonly used in closed systems, in order to exclusively support the goals of the open system Web. 

It is apparent that the I18N WG has solid reasons for preferring Normalization Form C as an interchange format for the Web; however, it is not likely to be the optimal choice for all applications.  There are many legacy systems (both applications and operating systems) that use a decomposed character normalization.  It will be difficult for organizations to justify why they should adopt CharMod-based technologies (such as XML 1.1 over XML 1.0), which require transcoding to a less optimal normalization form with no benefit for their closed system.  This is likely to lead to fractured use of technologies such as XML 1.0/1.1.    

Finally, XML plays an important role as a data-interchange format in scalable, loosely coupled systems.  The Character Model reduces XML to a format applicable only to natural language communication in one particular normalization form.  This is unfortunate considering that vastly more bytes of machine-to-machine XML are transmitted than are people-to-people or people-machine bytes.

The restrictions mandated by the Character Model limit the use of the Web and Web-based technologies for a large base of users.  While supporting the vision for the Web as a "single, very large application", the limitations to other uses of the Web does not appear to support the Character Model's goal  to "facilitate the use of the Web by all people".  



Structured version of  the comment:

<lc-comment
  visibility="public" status="pending"
  decision="pending" impact="substantive">
  <originator email="cschmidt@microsoft.com" represents="Microsoft"
      >Cliff Schmidt</originator>
  <charmod-section 
    ></charmod-section>
  <title>CharMod restricts closed systems</title>
  <description>
    <comment>
      <dated-link date="2002-06-06"
        >CharMod restricts closed systems</dated-link>
      <para>In the effort to improve interoperability of text exchange across open applications on the Web, the Character Model should not restrict the ability for closed systems to leverage the Web and Web-based technologies  The term "closed system", as used in this document, refers to a system designed to support organizations communicating among themselves based on a contract into which all parties have explicitly entered.

The background of this spec states that "the Web may be seen as a single, very large application...rather than as a collection of small independent applications."  Based on this premise, it is understandable why the CharMod spec chooses to require early normalization in a single canonical form. However, the Web and technologies that have developed to support the Web have also provided enormous value to closed systems, including intranet and extranet scenarios.  The relationship between the evolution of the World Wide Web and its use in closed/private systems has been a mutually beneficial one.  Private systems have benefited from the efficiencies of applying Web-developed standards and tools, which has in-turn increased the demand and support for these Web-enabling components.  The current Character Model spec threatens to break this relationship by forcing restrictions on tools that are commonly used in closed systems, in order to exclusively support the goals of the open system Web. 

It is apparent that the I18N WG has solid reasons for preferring Normalization Form C as an interchange format for the Web; however, it is not likely to be the optimal choice for all applications.  There are many legacy systems (both applications and operating systems) that use a decomposed character normalization.  It will be difficult for organizations to justify why they should adopt CharMod-based technologies (such as XML 1.1 over XML 1.0), which require transcoding to a less optimal normalization form with no benefit for their closed system.  This is likely to lead to fractured use of technologies such as XML 1.0/1.1.    

Finally, XML plays an important role as a data-interchange format in scalable, loosely coupled systems.  The Character Model reduces XML to a format applicable only to natural language communication in one particular normalization form.  This is unfortunate considering that vastly more bytes of machine-to-machine XML are transmitted than are people-to-people or people-machine bytes.

The restrictions mandated by the Character Model limit the use of the Web and Web-based technologies for a large base of users.  While supporting the vision for the Web as a "single, very large application", the limitations to other uses of the Web does not appear to support the Character Model's goal  to "facilitate the use of the Web by all people".  
</para>
    </comment>
  </description>
</lc-comment>
Received on Thursday, 6 June 2002 12:21:41 GMT

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