Why text=binary mounts

Steven R. Newcomb srn@techno.com
Sun Jan 18 16:07:00 GMT 1998

> >If you want to read a line of 
> >text, it seems to me that the most logical thing to do would be to use a 
> >library which gave you access to functions such as fscanf() etc. which have 
> >no meaning for generic (binary) files.  This library then would be the 
> >place to do things like making all text files look the same to the 
> >programmer whether they're DOS/UNIX/Mac/whatever, in the same way that a 
> >PCX library might 'gloss over' the differences between the different PCX 
> >versions.
> Good point. It's also important to remember that not all text is ASCII or
> ANSI, there's EBDIC (?) and a whole bunch of others too. Maybe a decent
> text library could even handle unicode files or something (I know nothing
> about unicode so dont flame me please) as well. Personally, when I open a
> file, I expect to get what's there. That *should* be the default. A file is
> just a bunch of bytes and that's the way it should be treated. If you want
> some kind of filter or interpretation, get a library.
> A well written text processing program should recognise any combination of
> <cr> and <lf> as an end-of line marker and should write either the
> operating system default (But the OS should have no concept of "text"
> files) or ansi standard (if there is such a beast) or maybe even a format
> selected by the user.

I like the way both of you think.  Sounds to me like you should both
take a look at SGML, ISO 8879:1986.  And particularly at the SGML
Extended Facilities found in ISO/IEC 10744:1997 (see
http://www.hytime.org for pointers including the standard itself).
You will be surprised and pleased, I think, to discover that there is
such a beast, and, marvelous to say, it's already internationally
standardized.  Of course, the paradigm assumes that there are
documents (SGML documents, of course) that declare the notations of
information resources, and that optionally declare the libraries
and/or applications that understand notations of resources.  There are
also storage manager declarations that handle such things as
encryption, sealing, alternative character sets, compression,
containerizations such as tar, multimedia interleaving, etc.  Check it
out.  Some of us, at least, think it's the future of content


Steven R. Newcomb, President, TechnoTeacher, Inc.
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