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From: Vladimir Prus (ghost_at_[hidden])
Date: 2004-04-07 02:45:39

Hi Ferda,

>> Linux (or gcc specifically) uses 32 bits, and Windows 16,
>> which means wstring only suitable for UCS-2.
> Wow, I did not know that about gcc, what a smart compiler... ;-)
> MSVC does it usually because Win32 API id ANSI/UCS-2, so the usage is
> straightforward then.

Maybe gcc is just not burdened with compatibility with older APIs ;-)

> Actually, not UCS-2, but another variable-sized character encoding was
> introduced in Unicode 2.0 - UTF-16.

Thanks for correction.

>> I believe UTF-8 is popular party because such operations are
>> believed to be rare.
> Really? string.length() ? You must have been joking... :-)

No, I was not. The point is that you rarely need string.length() to return
the number of real characters.

You need it when doing output, but then wstring::length() is not accurate
either, because there are composing characters which don't take space, and
there are characters which takes twice as much space on screen/terminal and
ascii characters.

You probably need it when working with unicode characters. But if you want
to find 7-bit ascii substring in Unicode string, you can just do iterate
over all characters -- it does not matter if you'll check the bytes which
are part of unicode character.

At least, that's what I think is the case ;-) For program_options this is

>> What about representing values with two 16-bit values (that's
>> what I've mentioned above)?
> You mean UTF-16. Yes, it is also a possiblity, but having wchar_t not
> fixed sized, you would have to provide basic_string<char16_t>...
> I see it pretty the same like your UTF-8 option, because both encodings
> use variable-sized character, being so incompatible with the shared
> implementation of basic_string<> for char and wchar_t.
> Moreover, if basic_string<char> from the API would produce UTF-8 string,
> that it would be only consistent, if basic_string<wchar_t> produced UTF-16
> and not UCS-2. To say nothing of support of 4-byte wchar_t and UTF-32 :-)

In fact, given what Mira said in another message, I'm entirely lost what's
the really right representation for Unicode string. So it's better to focus
on what representation can be used inside program_options.

>> In case of program options, I suspect that everything will
>> work for UTF-8 strings. IOW, the library does not care that
>> any given 'char' might be part of some Unicode character.
>> That's why it's attractive for me.
> It depends on the way of usage of basic_string<> inside and outside of the
> program_options. The implemenation of basic_string<> is done for
> fixed-size characters. It does not do searching/iterating/length counting
> with regards to the character size, which can vary from 1 to 6 bytes in
> UTF-8.

Luckily, it won't expose UTF-8 string, so if all searches use 7-bit string
we're safe.

>> > You can expect initialization from (const char * argv []) on all
>> > platforms or (const wchar_t * argv []) on Windows in UCS-2.
>> With the
>> > basic_string<> you already have support for the parameters from the
>> > current locale (char) and for parameters in UCS-2.
>> What do you mean by 'parameters from the current locale'?
> If you set LC_CTYPE to something like "cs_CZ.iso8859-2" on UN*Xes or
> choose "Czech" in Windows Control Panel, command line shell (well, not
> only it) will start to accept and deliver in (char * argv []) also
> characters from a local alphabet (here Czech, for example). Such string
> you would have convert into UTF-8, if you wanted to have an UTF-8
> interface. It means, you would have to do more than
> basic_string<char>(argv[x])...

Yes, you right. But I think I'd still have to do conversion. E.g. user
creates an option with a type of wstring but parsers char** argv.

>> I
>> am not sure that ctype::widen is required to care about
>> user-selected character encoding.
>> Not do I think it's requires from default codecvt facet.
> AFAIK it must care; the method widen() needs locale to provide an
> extension from char to a templated char_type.

The standard says

   The char argument of do_widen is intended to accept value derived from
   character literals...

and encoding of character literals usually does not change when user changes
locale. So implementation might handle only 7-bit values.

> STL in MSVC uses correctly
> mbcstowc() to perform the conversion from the local alphabet to the UCS-2.
> I hope that no-one simply casts to wchar_t, being so reliable only for
> 7-bit characters. Anyway, it is always possible to write an own converting
> facet and force its usage for widen by with imbue.

I've just looked at implementation in one of the gcc versions I have and it
just casts to wchar_t.
>> That's right. There should be some mechanism to convert from
>> current 8-bit encoding and source code encoding into unicode.
>> At least at linux there's a mechanism to do the first thing,
>> but I'm not aware about Windows.
> There are such methods in stdlib.h, which produce a wide character or a
> string of wide characters:
> int mbtowc(wchar_t *pwc, const char *s, size_t n);
> size_t mbstowcs(wchar_t *pwcs, const char *s, size_t n);

Yes, that's the mechanism I was talking about.

> These methods work with the locale supported in the operating system and
> thus you can always get a wchar_t from a char. And these should be used in
> the default facet in STL.

I've tried to find implementation in gcc, but failed :-(

>> I agree with basing the mechanism on facets. OTOH, it's
>> really can be made orthogonal to program options. So
>> initially program_options can support only ascii (strict
>> 7-bit) and unicode, for which conversion is trivial.
> Hmm, if it was orthogonal to program options, like facets are to streams,
> then there is no need to declare support of encodings. char * and
> basic_string<char> are simply in the local encoding and wchar_t * and
> basic_string<wchar_t> are wide according to the understanding of
> "wideness" on a platform (Unicode).
> It will also support the input, which you can expect for program_options
> from main(): char * in the current locale encoding. If someone wants
> something else, he can use facet and streams to convert it (which could be
> hidden in program_options with imbue, but not necessarily).
> I think the point is not to support UTF-8 or UCS-2 but to support
> encodings explicitely declared or not. I would not implicitely return
> UTF-8 or UTF-16 basic_string<>s, not only because STL handles their chars
> implicitely according to the current locale, but also because
> basic_string<char>(argv[x]) does not behave this way. Having the encoding
> independent on program_options using some external conversions, possibly
> imbuable into program_options, make the library thinner and more
> concentrated on the problem: parse the command line. Like the streams -
> read characters from input.

So, can we agree on this:

1. Sometimes, the program_options library need to make conversion from local
encoding to unicode and from unicode to local encoding.
2. This conversion should be done via codecvt facet
3. It might be possible to allow user to imbue/specify codecvt facet when
using program_options.

> Those, who say "we need full Unicode, UTF-8 or UCS-4" have the same option
> as if working with streams - imbue or convert. Otherwise they have
> currebnt locale char from istream or wchar_t from wistream.

For example if one excepts char** argv to be in UTF-8 he just changes locale
accordingly and all std::string values that program_options *returns* will
be in that encoding automatically.

>> > You can find come converting facets for UTF-8 raedy for
>> imbue() to a
>> > stream in the files section on yahoo. Unfortunately not finished or
>> > not reviewed...
>> Yea, I can find some facets, including one written by myself
>> ;-( And yea, unfortunately they are not in Boost yet.
> Great! You can probly prepare it for review, if your time allows it... :-)

Let's see ;-)

- Volodya

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