XML encoding labels and RFC2376 (was Re: IE5.0 does not conform to RFC2376)

Chris Lilley chris at w3.org
Tue Apr 6 20:45:30 BST 1999

Rick Jelliffe wrote:
> From: Chris Lilley <chris at w3.org>
> >In other words, automatic detection based on unlabelled content.
> >I believe that this is a bad thing, because there is always the
> >possibility (quite high) of getting it wrong.
> >
> >The encoding declaration, on the other hand, is not autodetection in
> >that sense, it is a label. A very small amount of autodetection has to
> >be done in order to be sure that the label has been read, that is all
> >(ie, is this UTF-16 or is this an encoding where ASCII is represented
> as ASCII).
> In academic material, this is called "codeset announcement" 

Yes, and it is also called a "designating sequence" in ISO-2022 but hey,
I didn't want to go there.

> The term "autodection" does give people the idea
> that guessing is involved. 

Yes. That was the sense in which I was using it. I agree that this is a
bad concept to promote.

> This is important, because if developers think that autodetection
> means guessing rather than codeset announcement, they may be tempted to
> guess encodings  without alerting users that something seems strange: 

Right, and this would be real bad.

In contrast, the XML encoding declaration is a real declaration, just
like <!ELEMENT is a real declaration,  and not a licence to turn on
heuristic bodje-up mode.


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