Curly Quotes

Posted by Pierre Igot in: Technology
February 26th, 2003 • 11:35 pm

Have to agree with John Gruber in his response to Cory Doctorow’s item against curly quotes:

Proper typographic punctuation is 400-year-old news. That it’s considered exotic, or even non-standard, on today’s web is embarrassing. The solution isn’t for everyone to LIMIT themselves to the same character set used on 1970’s-era VT-100 terminals. The solution is for software developers to write smarter software. Every day more web sites are starting to use smart punctuation, making sites that don’t – and the software behind them – look bad.

The trouble is, his “solution” isn’t one. Many software developers still aren’t writing “smarter” software. Most computers are still running software that breaks things such as curly quotes. Many servers are still running server software that breaks curly quotes.

And, as long as this remains true, it’s not reasonable to try and impose curly quotes on other people (which is why I don’t use them in this blog, even though I do use them in my non-blog pages, which are far less likely to be quoted by anyone through crude cut-and-paste operations).

As well, HTML entities are only a temporary workaround in the big scheme of things.

Ideally, all the software running on this planet would be Unicode-ready. Actually, it is not. Most of it is utterly Unicode-hostile.

Until Unicode is universally supported, all the talk about curly quotes, accented characters, Greek symbols, and what-not is utterly powerless against the big, inert mass of software running on today’s computers.

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