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Re: Problem with press release

From: Andrew Sullivan <ajs(at)commandprompt(dot)com>
To: pgsql-advocacy(at)postgresql(dot)org
Subject: Re: Problem with press release
Date: 2008-06-17 15:36:51
Message-ID: (view raw, whole thread or download thread mbox)
Lists: pgsql-advocacy
On Tue, Jun 17, 2008 at 10:40:47AM -0400, Chander Ganesan wrote:

> ISO-8859-1 is basically ASCII, it simply adds for additional characters 
> after 127 ...  Most mail clients use it, or Windows-1252 (essentially the 
> same) today. 

Sort of.  The ISO 8859 series of encodings was intended to be an
extension of ASCII to allow 8-bit communications for different
linguistic communities.  This turns out not to work that well, because
you have to signal which one of the encodings you're using at the
beginning, because (for instance) the IANA-labelled ISO-88591-1 and
ISO-8859-2 are not the same, but use the same bits.  

> The fact that it's 8bit requires that it be quoted printable encoded, since 
> QP is required for sending all the 8 bit characters in 7 bit encoding.  

Not quite.  First, extended SMTP allows 8 bit data transfer in the
message body.  (See RFC 1652 and RFC 2821, among others, for more on
this.)  The practical upshot is usually QP, though.  Second, if you
used only US-ASCII characters, RFC 2046 explicitly encourages you to
mark the content as US-ASCII.  So the problem arises because the
encoded bits are non-breaking spaces, which won't fit in US-ASCII.
More on this below.

> AFAIK, iso-8859-1 is the standard character set used by most email clients 
> that send ascii messages. 

I sure hope not.  First, at least European English speakers can't use
just ISO-8859-1 any more, since it doesn't have EURO SIGN (€)
available.  Second, there is no reason to prefer ISO-8859-1 over
Unicode now, because the UTF-8 libraries are widely available and the
character set is more comprehensive.

> <A0> in its place.  I would think this is a problem with his mail client, 
> not the message itself, in that it doesn't understand iso-8859-1 ...

It's a problem with the message itself, in that there's no need at all
to include a non-breaking space in there.  If you just want to make
the text flow the right way, RFC 3676 provides the Format=Flowed
approach.  No need for anything other than ASCII at all.


Andrew Sullivan
+1 503 667 4564 x104

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