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1993-06-21 10:40:17
The timing for the BOF will be announced soon. I am enclosing the
approved version of the charter.




Erik and IESG members,

I believe that the revised charter defines most of the issues and
defines them well.  I believe that the number of issues to be covered in
one BOF session to be somewhat intimidating.  However, our criteria for
this BOF should be that it helps illuminate and define the problem and
advances the understanding needed to define WGs, and I think it is more
likely to do that than anything else we are likely to come up with.  And
it is "only" a BOF and does not commit us to long-term action until we
see the outcome and Borka's minutes.

Let's go with it.

------ revised draft charter ---------

    The Universal Character Set Standard (UCS) in Networked Services

         Can We Think About Real Multilingual Networking?
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 used by those
concerned. This means that the Directory must be able to handle national
characters not found in the US-ASCII repetoire.  The same applies to the other
global information services on the network (e.g the data bases used in many
information servers). This is especially a problem as information services are
provided for clients on various difference hardware architectures.

Currently, for the Western European languages at least 5 different encodings
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 character sets.) If we
consider the other scripts used in Europe and the other encodings the number of
different charater set codes rise to as many as 40. This is the real (and
messy) world we live in.  Changing the character sets in this world is not an
option, as current 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). Initial
experience with this solution has been positive. However, there are still
many issued 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 diffrent
    codes "plug-and-play" (i.e. an API) without specifying the actual
    underlying implementation? Can we use UCS as a common denominator for that?

(4) Is it necessary to have a document identifying the language and the
    character sets which cater for 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 
    sufficient,  can we  start with UCS and make minimal 
    changes or specifications which will be sufficient for our needs. Can we 
    discuss the missing agreement/specifiactions  required in the 
    communication protocols such as:
(5.1) 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 stream?

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

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

(5.4) Do we need to differentiate or specify how tagged data (i.e the field type
    in a data base)and how "serialized byte order" data are treated in a
    communication protocol or will some common specification for the tag and
    the type be sufficient?

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 WG(s) 
will be defined.

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