XHTML and character entities

David Megginson david at megginson.com
Tue Mar 30 16:59:38 BST 1999

Rick Jelliffe writes:

 > Certainly it is the expectation of some people that the entities
 > for special characters will disappear with XML, that people will
 > use NCRs.  I am not sure about it.

I think that Rick makes a good point here (we touched on this point
earlier in a different context).  There are two problems:

1. some XML documents will *always* need characters not available
   through Unicode either directly or through composition, no matter
   how large Unicode grows; and

2. representing new characters through numeric references in the
   private-use area is unintuitive.

Internal SDATA entities were (and are) the bane of people trying to
write generic SGML processing software, but they were very useful for
small utilities tied closely to a specific SGML application (such as
an academic project for transcribing manuscripts, where you knew in
advance what SDATA entities you were going to see).  

On the other hand, there were actually proposals back in th'old days
to use Unicode values for SDATA strings rather than the (in)famous
"[eacute]" type strings.

All the best,


David Megginson                 david at megginson.com

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