UCS Character Set

Document Charter UCS Character Set WG (ucs)
Title UCS Character Set
Last updated 1993-08-01
State Approved
WG State Concluded
IESG Responsible AD (None)
Charter Edit AD (None)
Send notices to (None)


Draft Charter 6/21/93 - mdw

We are in the process of building global directory systems and other 
information services on the global Internet.  In many parts of the world
it is seen as essential for the success of the global services that they 
should be able to recognize, store, and present textual information like
personal and organizational names, represented in the character sets 
by those concerned.  This means that the Directory must be able to 
national characters not found in the US-ASCII repertoire.  The same 
to the other global information services on the network (e.g., the 
used in many information servers).  This is especially a problem as 
information services are provided for clients on various different 

Currently, for the Western European languages at least 5 different 
are in use on the network: ISO-7 National Variants, ISO 8859/1, ROMAN8,
T.61, and RC850.  (See RFC1345 for further information on these 
sets.)  If you consider the other scripts used in Europe and the other
encodings the number of different character set codes rise to as many as 
40.  This is the real (and messy) world we live in.  Changing the 
sests in this world is not an option, as curent systems run applications 
which can support only the character sets used by that system.

However, a universal encoding has begun to appear: UCS (ISO 10646).  
experience with this solution has been positive.  However, there are 
many issues to be addressed in the context of ISO 10 646 and the other
character set codes, which will exist on the Internet in the future:

(1) Can we agree on some common network services/model for character set 

(2) Should a general-purpose SW tool be designed that will support both
    UCS and regional character sets?

(3) Is there a solution that will make character set convertors for 
    codes ``plug-and-play'' (i.e., an API) without specifying the actual
    underlying implementation?  Can we use UCS as a common denominator 

(4) Is it necessary to have a document identifying the language and the
    character sets which cater to a particular language?

(5) If we need to solve these problems and UCS (ISO 10 646) is the only 
    available general option today which is maybe close to be 
    can we start with UCS and make minimal changes or specifications 
    will be sufficient for our needs.  Can we discuss the missing 
    agreement/specifications required in the communication protocols 
such as:

    (a) The order of octets in the interchange of data is left to be 
        specified by the sender and the recipient in UCS.  What are the 
        ``sender'' and ``recipient'' on the Internet?  Can we define a 
        mechanism to identify the serialized byte order of a data 

    (b) Additional encoding mechanisms for the UCS have been proposed.  
        these schemes have any merit?

    (c) Some amount of profiling may be necessary for UCS use in some 
        particular countries, do we need to specify that globally or we
        can leave it to a particular region to be solved as regional 

    (d) Do we need to differentiate or specify how tagged data (i.e., 
        field type in a database) and how ``serialized byte order'' data 
        are treated in a communication protocol or will some common
        specification for the tag and the type be suffient?

The goal of the BOF is to test the interest for the various issues.  If
possible a clear set of issues could be identified then working group(s) 
will be defined.