Draft minutes of a workshop: The Euro in IT-standards
Place: Iraklion, Crete Time: Saturday 5 July 1997 9:00/10:45
This workshop was held to collect input on actions needed for the introduction of the EURO into IT standards. It was announced with only a 24 hour notice at the Candia Maris hotel at Iraklion, Crete. In Iraklion the ISO/IEC JTC1/WG2 and WG3 were holding meetings and CEN/TC304/WG3 had planned a meeting the day after.
The business group of CEN/TC304 decided to anounce this Open workshop as it felt that the opportunity to consult an international forum of experts on IT standarisation and the EURO should be seized.
The meeting was attended by experts from Europe, America and Asia. Experts working for IBM, Microsoft, HP and the UNICODE consortium were present.
There were two papers distributed specially for this meeting. A paper from the European commission DGIII/B on standardisation aspects of the EURO (a SOGITS document) and an agenda for the meeting refering to that document.
Þorvarður Kári Ólafsson the convener of TC304/WG3 was in the chair and Þorgeir Sigurðsson, secretary of TC304 wrote the minutes. Wolf Arfvidson, the chairman of TC304, started the meeting with a short speech.
Wolf Arfvidson introduced TC304 (a CEN technical committee on Character Set Technology that intends to widen its scope and change its name into: Multilingual Information Infrastructure). He also introduced the EURO currency and said that the CEN technical committee 304 had been asked by the European commision (DGIII/B) to add into its workplans, the introduction of the EURO into IT standards.
Þorvarður Kári Ólafsson started the formal meeting by asking for comments and modification of the agenda. There were numerous suggestions. Among these the following: Keld Simonsen from Denmark wanted to add discussion on the problem of having two different currencies in parallel use. He also added sorting and matching aspect of the EURO on the agenda. Mike Ksar (convener of SC2/WG2 from HP) wanted discussions about UNIX systems and said it was an obvious ommision on the agenda not to have it included with discussion on Windows and Macintosh platforms.
Þorgeir Sigurðsson responded to these discussions and said that the agenda was based on the SOGITS paper (distributed on the meeting) that TC304 saw as reflecting the task at hand as seen by the European commision. Any additions to the agenda would in fact be information that needed to be fed back to the commsion.
Umamaheswaran from Canada and IBM wanted to add currency usage and "locales" (how to write numbers with the EURO sign etc) to the list of relevant topics, also software changes and what to do with existing databases.
After much discussion, Þorvarður Kári Ólafsson added the following items on the agenda, under the heading: Other aspects:
Then Þorvarður proceeded with the first of 4 subjects that were on the original agenda.
Þorvarður Kári Ólafsson quoted the SOGITS document as saying that the registration of the EUR as the currency code (to SWIFT) was already done by the European commision. The relevant standards being ISO 3166 and 4217. Þorvarður Kári Ólafsson asked the question of whether this needed to be checked. Evangelos Melagrakis from Greece had doubts about the registration. He informed the meeting about procedures in registrating country codes and currency codes He said that it was not ISO itself that did the registering but a registering body connected to TC46 and there were two groups that needed to be addessed. The feeling of the meeting was that the situation and status of the registration needed to be checked.
Umamaheswaran and Mike Ksar(from HP) talked about the three letter EUR that was not according to the standard practice.(should have been EUE).
Þorvarður summarised the disscussion: The registration is probably underway but progress needs to be checked, a possible action item by TC304.
Umamaheswaran talked further on the banking aspect of introducing the EURO and said that it included things that could not be checked by TC304 unless it made a lisason with the appropiate ISO-body Umamaheswaran also informed the meeting that the registration of EUR instead of EUE was done on purpose and not because of any ignorance. Michael Everson read aloud from the SOGITS document where it said that the registration of EUR might cause confusion. Þorvarður summarised again: The meeting feels that the TC304 should verify that the registration has taken place. He then moved on to subject 2 on the agenda:
Recommendation 1: TC304 should verify that the registration has taken place.
Mike Ksar informed the meeting that he himself was on the AFII board (responsible for registration of glyphs). He said that the way to proceed was to contact the AFII president and get the necesary registration forms. He also said that AFII was considering whether to continue its operation in the current form.
Michael Everson told the meeting that various glyphs for the EURO sign were needed for varous fonts and that the European commision had only specified one glyph. In his opinion having only one glyph was not possible and the European commision needed to be informed about this.
Keld Simonsen proposed that TC304/WG3 pursued the matter of the glyph registration.
Umamaheswaran talked about the designers of the EURO sign, whether they were aware of the need for different glyphs in different fonts.
Þorvarður Kári Ólafsson summarised: The meeting feels there is a need to pursue the registration issue and raise the question of different glyphs for the EURO sign.
Mike Ksar said that it was important that the European Commission understood the
mechanism in designing glyphs, e.g the question of color. He said such issues were of
big concern to vendors.
Þorvarður Kári Ólafsson raised the question of whether manufacturers should be contacted.
Keld Simonsen reminded the TC304 member about the TC304 project on OCR -B where there was a need for very special fonts for characters and symbols, such as the EURO sign.
Asmus Freytag from the UNICODE consortium entered the discussion with the remark
that there were three aspects on the EURO glyph.
A) The shape of the currency itself on banknotes and such, that was really not our business.
B) The shape of the Euro glyph in OCR and other specialised fields.
C) The shape of the symbol in normal fonts. In these, any strange constraints, such as on the width of lines, would not be favoured by the vendors of hardware and software.
Michael Everson told the meeting that he had already prepared 15 different versions of the EURO glyph and would be happy to present them to anyone interested.
Þorvarður then summarised the recommendation:
Recomendation 2.1: TC304/WG3 should pursue the Euro glyph registration with AFII.
Recommendation 2.2: The shape of the Euro glyph on banknotes should not be commented by the workshop.
Recommendation 2.3: The design of OCR glyphs for the Euro sign should be done with the help of OCR experts.
Recommendation 2.4: The design of glyphs for the Euro sign in regular fonts should follow standard typographical principles.
Þorvarður Kári Ólafsson asked Alain LaBonté whether the EURO could be added to the common secondary (group 2) layout of ISO 9995.
Alan LaBonté responded that there was enough room for the EURO sign.
Mike Ksar said that no-one had yet made a request for the EURO sign to be added to the keyboard standard.
Umamaheswaran added that national standardisation bodies needed to decide, if and where they wanted to put the EURO sign in their national keyboard layout standards. This led to a technical discussion by Þorvarður Kári Ólafsson, Michael Everson and Umamaheswaran on keyboard layouts.
Micheal Suignard from Microsoft informed the meeting that Microsoft was already preparing ways to enter the EURO sign. He said that it was impossible to offer the same option on every keyboard as needs of the customers were different. He said Microsoft would be happy to receive feedback on its implementation. He stressed that Microsoft needed to respond to real life situation in real life.
Alain LaBonté responded to this and said that Canada was using the ISO 9995 standardised keyboard and it was possible to adhere to standards.
Asmus Freytag from the Unicode consortium said that there were two approaches to the
introduction of the EURO into keyboards. a) An incremental approach towards b) what
we liked to see. He stressed that there was a need for good solutions with incremental changes of the keyboards of the existing user base.
Umamaheswaran reiterated his suggestion of consulting the national standardisation bodies and the need to discuss the need for the EURO sign on keyboards.
Michael Suignard said that anything that the market required Microsoft would be happy to supply. He said Microsoft had no requirements other than those of its customers.
Þorvarður Kári Ólafsson summarised and said there was a need to register the EURO sign in keyboard standards and for investigating the needs and opinions of vendors and national bodies.
There was a discussion following this and some experts thought that this was a too limited outcome of the discussion.
Umamaheswaran said that banking requirements needed to be investigated, terminals in use in simple systems, etc.
Michel Suignard said that Microsoft needed feedback very soon (if there was to be any). He said he could supply the Microsoft ideas and forward any feedback. He said keyboards needed to be expanded and there might be needs for specific banking keyboard layouts.
Asmus Freytag from UNICODE stressed that work needed to be done fast and wanted deadlines for work items to be set.
Þorvarður Kári Ólafsson responded by saying that some work could be done already next week, but the ultimate deadline should be October when TC304 had its next meeting.
Recommendation 3.1: TC304/WG2 should prepare a proposal to add the Euro sign to ISO/IEC 9995-3.
Recommendation 3.2: TC304/WG2 and NBs are encouraged to consider feasible incremental and final solutions for the Euro on national keyboards.
Recommendation 3.3: TC304 should contact ISO/TC68 about the possible need for Euro sign on banking terminals.
Þorvarður Kári Ólafsson told what had happened in international standardisation during the last days in Iraklion.
Umamaheswaran, the Unicode consortium together with standardisation bodies of several European countries and USA and Canada had proposed the EURO sign to be included in the 10646 standard (the ISO 32 bit standard). This had been approved.
Keld Simonsen said that the inclusion of the EURO in ISO 10646 process should nevertheless be monitored and checked as there were examples of delays in implementations in the standardisation process.
Asmus Freytag said that there was no controversy around the inclusion of the EURO and the UNICODE consortium itself would check that the EURO would be in its place. He also noted that the need for the inclusion of the EURO had been realised by the vendors themselves.
Mike Ksar said he wanted dates to be assigned to the work that seemed to be at hand.
The discussion next turned to 8-bit code tables in use and it was noted that there was already a proposal for a new part of ISO 8859 ("latin nr 0") that included the EURO sign and made some corrections to other characters compared to the current Latin 1.
Keld Simonsen said that other 8-bit code tables should also be looked at, such as Latin2 and Greak tables. Other code tables, such as EBCDIC were also mentioned in the discussion. Þorvarður Kári Ólafsson said that this might be an action item for TC304.
Michel Suignard said that Microsoft had already made provisions for adding the Euro- sign to all its 8 bit code tables. The next revision of the 1250 series is covered, he said, and the cost has been reasonable. He added that any question about the 8-bit tables would soon be irrelevant to Microsoft as it was phasing them out in favour of Unicode. What would be left of the question for each language culture would only be the question of repertoire.
Umamaheswaran said Microsoft was lucky as they had room for extra characters. This was not the case for many of the systems in use in banking environment.
Keld Simonsen reminded the meeting of the MES (minimum Euruopan Subet of characters) code table that was part of Unicode and needed to be revised.
Asmus Freytag said he was not representing any big vendor, only Unicode as a whole, (Þorvarður Kári Ólafsson had asked for information from other vendors on their plans). Asmus Freytag nevertheless said that he felt that the vendors had very little interest in the revision of 8-bit code tables as 16 bits were seen as the future.
Mike Ksar said that it was important not to make life difficult for existing users of 8-bit tables. He noted that the proposed place for the EURO sign was used as a subtotal indicator in some banking software.
Alain LaBonté talked about his "Latin0" proposal and acknowledged that it might be improved.
Þorvarður Kári Ólafsson summarised:
Recommendation 4.1: TC304/WG3 should monitor the inclusion of Euro sign in 10646.
Recommendation 4.2: In parallel with the inclusion in 10646, TC304/WG3 should revise the Minimum and Extended European Subsets (ENV 1973) to include the Euro sign.
Recommendation 4.3: TC304/WG3 should investigate the need for inclusion of the Euro sign in 8 bit coded character sets.
Recommendation 4.4: Vendors plans should be monitored and feedback is encouraged.
Recommendation 4.5: The current use of the generic currency sign (¤) needs to be documented.
Þorvarður Kári Ólafsson now moved to other items that had been added to the agenda and said he only wanted to mention them and assign working groups of TC304 to think of them. These were: Sorting, matching that would both belong to WG1 in TC304 , the simultanious currency uses and the default European locale might be handled by WG2. Interoperability between existing systems would be the issue of all the workgroups.
Mike Ksar said that he felt Unix issues had been left out. Umamaheswaran pointed out
that Unix systems follow standards to the letter. Keld Simonsen wanted mainfraimes to be considered as they were important in banking and also the OCR-B project that is in TC304/WG3.
Umamaheswaran raised the question of where and if the EURO sign will be used. Mike Ksar said it was important to find the answer to this question.
Chris Makemson from UK said that it would be important for the European commision to have one point of contact with the TC304 on the EURO.
Þorvarður Kári Ólafsson replied that CEN/TC304 secretariat would have that role.
Recommendation 5.1: The following items should be added to the action plan: sorting, matching, simultaneus rendering, other platforms (Unix/mainframes), writing of amounts, OCR-B, interoperability.
Recommendation 5.2: TC304/WG1 should consider sorting and matching aspects of the Euro sign.
Recommendation 5.3: TC304/WG2 should consider writing of Euro amounts and simultanous rendering of the Euro.
Recommendation 5.4: TC304/WG3 should consider the need for adding Euro sign to OCR-B.
Recommendation 5.5: TC304 working groups should consider the interoperability aspects of the Euro sign.
The meeting ended at 10:45.
During this short workshop, many ideas and proposals for actions were put forward. As this was not a TC304 meeting and as it is the duty of the secretary of TC304 to ensure that sufficient human and financial resources are at hand before taking up any work, the assignments of tasks can only be taken as strong recomendations. The scope of the work that CEC DGIII/B had in mind for TC304 has also to be investigated. The business group of TC304 started immediatly after the workshop to draft a Euro action plan for TC304, but that plan has to be in a seperate document.