UTC (Unicode Technical Committee)

Contrary to the opinion of some of those who have never participated in a UTC (Unicode Technical Committee) meeting, whose attendees include representatives from companies, organizations, and even governments, along with individual members, all of whom share a strong passion for the continued development of The Unicode Standard (TUS), which has become the de facto way in which to represent digital text on virtually all modern devices. These representatives and individual members are world-class experts who are also incredibly sensitive to cultural and regional issues that affect the interpretation and usefulness of the standard, and do everything in their power to ensure that it is usable in the broadest possible way. No other character set standard can even come close to making such a claim.

To put this into perhaps better perspective, standard-wise, it takes a typical government entity years to accomplish what The Unicode Consortium accomplishes in only one year.

The latest UTC meeting—the 143rd one to be exact—took place earlier this month, and was hosted by and at Adobe in downtown San José, California. A UTC meeting takes place every quarter, and takes up for discussion a variety of issues, such as new character proposals, proposed changes to UTRs, UTSes and UAXes, and the all-important feedback that is submitted via the official reporting form.

Up until a year or so ago, I would attend only the CJK-related portions of UTC meetings, either in person if the meeting was local, or by calling in via phone. I now attend the meeting in its entirety. I have been Adobe’s alternate representative to Unicode for nearly 10 years, and only recently became our primary representative. Adobe has been a Full Member since 1999. Attending an entire UTC meeting has a lot of benefits, the most important of which is visibility into the various processes that go into progressing the standard, along with the careful, thought-provoking, analytical, and professional discussions that take place.

For those who feel that Unicode is missing a particular character or characters, having observed the process of character encoding on multiple occasions, I can only state that the sooner that you submit a proposal, the sooner that they can be encoded, as long as the evidence that accompanies the proposal is sufficient. Furthermore, thanks to the recent plan to release a new major version of Unicode in the middle of each year, proposed characters are likely to become encoded sooner rather than later.

Some of my favorite Unicode-related resources, besides the standard itself, include the Code Charts, which allow quick access to the block in which a particular character or script is encoded, the Pipeline Table, which indicates the current status of characters that are expected to become part of the standard, the DerivedAge page, which is useful to determine in which version of Unicode a particular character was encoded, and the UTC Document Register, which is a good indication of what will be discussed during the next UTC meeting. The agenda and minutes for UTC meetings are also available in the UTC Document Register, and though still draft as of this writing, the UTC #143 minutes are now available.

For more information about becoming a member of The Unicode Consortium, be sure to check out the current membership and membership levels.

I very much look forward to attending the next UTC meeting.

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