Re: Seeking Special Character (>ascii 127) support matrix for browsers -- PLEASE!

The following message is a courtesy copy of an article
that has been posted to comp.text.sgml,comp.text.xml as well.

"Brien Tate" <btate@cahners.com> writes:

> I am seeking out reference documents which show the browsers and teh format
> in which they support a spceial character.  An example of this would be
> whether or not I.E. 5.0 supports the Unicode definition of the @ sign, or
> pi, or beta, or mu, etc......
. . .
>                                                As broad a reference as
> possible would help as the development environment requires XML code to be
> parsed for various final uses, including searching for those same special
> characters in a large scale archive.

IMHO, if you are preparing XML *source* documents for various final
forms (not just handling by IE or NS), you might want to give serious
thought to handling characters such as "pi" as empty elements, e.g.,
"<pi/>".  You would not then put "<pi/>" into a document that is
directly on the web.  Instead you would pre-process the source
document into a web document.

Unicode makes sense only when one believes that it is usable in
*every* final form.  For example, I consider Texinfo, the language of
the GNU Documentation System, -- an older hypertext language than HTML
-- a useful alternative final source.  That is, if I am going to the
trouble to create an XML source document, then I want to have the
option of processing that document to Texinfo.  (Let's ignore for now
the fact that (still) only the print side of Texinfo supports

A mathematician might want to have, instead of just "<pi/>":

 1.  <pi/> -- a char in the Greek alphabet, not a symbol (#960).
 2.  <piu/> -- the universal mathematical constant (#982).
 3.  <piv/> -- a miscellaneous mathematical variable (#982).
 4.  <pio/> -- a miscellaneous mathematical function (#982).

The mathematical distinctions do not exist in unicode.  These
distinctions, possibly more, are significant for

 1.  translation into XHTML with MathML.
 2.  smart searching.

William F. Hammond                   Dept. of Mathematics & Statistics
518-442-4625                                  The University at Albany
hammond@math.albany.edu                      Albany, NY 12222 (U.S.A.)
http://math.albany.edu:8000/~hammond/          Dept. FAX: 518-442-4731