[Wikipedia-l] Re: PNG format???

Timwi timwi at gmx.net
Sat Aug 2 00:09:17 UTC 2003

Ray Saintonge wrote:

> Jimmy O'Regan wrote:
> Many users are satisfied with machinery that fulfils their basic 
> requirements.  I expect that many Wikipedia users, who are promarily 
> interested in WP's text contents, fall in that category. [...]
> IMHO backward
> compatibility should permit nearly full access to Wikipedia for any 
> system up to 10 years old, perhaps even older.

It does though. People with hardware and software that is 10 years old 
can perfectly well read the text, and perhaps even view some (if not 
most) of the images. Which leads us to what you said yourself:

> Of course some features will not work

which is exactly the point. People get access to the really important 
stuff (the text) in a backwards-compatible fashion. HTML is 
backwards-compatible. CSS declarations and JavaScript are commented out 
for backwards compatibility. Even UTF-8 is backwards-compatible with 
ASCII, and tomorrow's Internet protocol (IPv6) will be 
backwards-compatible with the current protocol (IPv4).

They just can't view the PNGs. Similarly, as mentioned before, users of 
an old version of OS/2 can't view JPEGs. If they are so desperate to 
view all the images, then they certainly would have upgraded; if they 
use 10-year-old hardware and software, then they probably don't make 
very high demands at technology and are more easily satisfied.

Analogously, they won't be able to view the Hebrew (Russian, Chinese, 
whatever) Wikipedia if their 10-year-old technology can't interpret 
UTF-8; but then again, there's probably no way it can do Hebrew anyway, 
so it does not matter that they cannot read UTF-8.

Of course we know old software and hardware are still in use, and they 
do have their right to exist and continue to exist, but technology is 
also advancing, and there's no reason to stay back in stone age. That 
would be a major obstacle, as shown above: Without UTF-8, or Unicode in 
general, a lot of languages aren't representable at all. (Maybe Hebrew 
has an 8-bit character set, but that's not the point.) If someone views 
an English article with a few Chinese characters in it, and they can't 
view the Chinese characters, they still have the rest of the article 
(which usually also contains Pinyin transliterations, etc.).

It's not like we're requiring the newest/latest technology. It's just 
that users of 10-year-old technology will get only what their technology 
can offer.


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