"Unicode of Death"

Philippe Verdy verdy_p at wanadoo.fr
Fri May 29 15:23:22 CDT 2015

2015-05-28 23:36 GMT+02:00 Andrew Cunningham <lang.support at gmail.com>:

> Not the first time unicode crashes things. There was the google chrome bug
> on osx that crashed the tab for any syriac text.

"Unicode crashes things"? Unicode has nothing to do in those crashes caused
by bugs in applications that make incorrect assumptions (in fact not even
related to characters themselves but to the supposed behavior of the layout
engine. Programmers and designers for example VERY frequently forget the
constraints for RTL languages and make incorrect assumptions about left and
right sides when sizing objects, or they don't expect that the cursor will
advance backward and forget that some measurements can be negative: if they
use this negative value to compute the size of a bitmap redering surface,
they'll get out of memory, unchecked null pointers returned, then they will
crash assuming the buffer was effectively allocated.

These are the same kind of bugs as with the too common buffer overruns with
unchecked assumtions: the code is kept because "it works as is" in their
limited immediate tests.

Producing full coverage tests is a difficult and lengthy task, that
programmers not always have the time to do, when they are urged to produce
a workable solution for some clients and then given no time to improve the
code before the same code is distributed to a wider range of clients.

Commercial staffs do that frequently, they can't even read the technical
limitations even when they are documented by programmers... in addition the
commercial staff like selling softwares that will cause customers to ask
for support... that will be billed ! After that, programmers are
overwhelmed by bug reports and support requests, and have even less time to
design other thigs that they are working on and still have to produce. QA
tools may help programmers in this case by providing statistics about the
effective costs of producing new software with better quality, and the cost
of supporting it when it contains too many bugs: commercial teams like
those statistics because they can convert them to costs, commercial
margins, and billing rates. (When such QA tools are not used, programmers
will rapidly leave the place, they are fed up by the growing pressure to do
always more in the same time, with also a growing number of "urgent"
support requests.).

Those that say "Unicode crashes things" do the same thing: they make broad
unchecked assumptions about how things are really made or how things are
actually working.
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