Re: Typeable characters

Martin J. Duerst (
Fri, 20 Dec 1996 14:49:58 +0100 (MET)

Date: Fri, 20 Dec 1996 14:49:58 +0100 (MET)
From: "Martin J. Duerst" <>
To: Larry Masinter <>
Subject: Re: Typeable characters
In-Reply-To: <96Dec19.163905pdt."150">
Message-Id: <Pine.SUN.3.95.961220142807.245F-100000@enoshima>

On Thu, 19 Dec 1996, Larry Masinter wrote:

> # And some additional facts: A check on my Mac keyboard (standard
> # Swiss German keyboard) and a check through my ECMA registry for
> # ISO 646 versions showed that at least the following characters
> # can also not be assumed to be widely typeable (not that I want
> # to imply "widely" from "Swiss", but I know that the situation
> # is similar all around Europe, and probably not better in Asia):
> # "@", "$", "#"(for fragments).
> Are you saying that people who cannot type an Internet email address
> (which usually requires "@") should also be considered to be able to
> type a URL?

Well, there are always such ways as using Option-X or Alt-Y, or so,
or PopChar on the Mac. But it's not that you just look on your
keyboard and hit the key that displays the corresponding symbol.
And the same thing, the other way round, could also work for
Americans and accented characters, for example.

> >    The URL syntax has been designed to promote transcribability over all
> >    other concerns.  ....
> to:
> >    The URL syntax has been designed with transcribability as
> >    its main concern.
> # accepted. In fact, I would say that "as one of its main
>     concerns".


> ================================================================
> >    In such cases, the ability to access a resource is considered more
> >    important than having its URL consist of the most meaningful of
> >    components.
> to:
> >    In such cases, the ability to type an URL has been favored
> >    in most cases. In some cases, existing previous usage has
> >    let to the introduction of exception.
> I don't really like either, but I'll work on it.
> >    These exceptions favor users of US-American keyboards over others.
> I don't think that everyone at CERN was using US-American keyboards;
> in fact, when I visited, I remember having trouble typing when I was
> given a system with a French keyboard.

I don't think so either. And some computer keyboards contain one
or two keys more than typewriters to help out a bit. But I'm
pretty sure there is no "#" and no "@" on a French or Swiss-French

> # Add a note that "$" and "~" are not available on many keyboards.
> The paragraph you quote doesn't seem to be the right context for that
> note.
> # Add a note saying that "#" is not available on many keyboards.
> The paragraph you quote doesn't seem to be the right context for that
> note, either.
> # Either clearly say *here* that this is done despite the fact that
> # typeability of "~" is limited, or go back to the original state
> # of having "~" unwise (it appears indeed changed by some gateways).
> The place you quote doesn't seem to be the right place to discuss the
> design rationale (or, in this case, lack thereof). I think I will
> leave out the "it is generally safe to unescape %7e when it occurs
> near the beginning of an http URL path", since it's particularly
> scheme dependent.

Agreed for the last part.

For "$", "~", and "#", the first problem we have is that "#", although
it has to be typeable, appears in the "delims" set because of the
problem with URL <=> URL Reference. Depending on how we solve this,
the problem here might become easier.

Also, it's not necessarily a "design rationale" question to mention
which characters are not easily typeable. We can very well mention
this fact when the corresponding character turns up in the spec
(as I proposed). 

Another place would be the end of 1.3, adding something like:

On the other hand, some characters that are regularly used in
URLs are not easily accessible on many keyboards. These
characters are "$", "~", and "#" [and "~", depending on whether
it is kept or not].

Regards,	Martin.