Monday, November 13, 2023

UTC #177 Highlights

by Peter Constable, UTC Chair

Unicode Technical Committee (UTC) meeting #177 was held November 1 to 3 in Cupertino, California, hosted by Apple. Here are some highlights from the meeting.

Starting the Unicode 16.0 cycle

UTC approved a plan and timeline for the Unicode 16.0 release. Here’s a summary of the timeline:
  • January 2024: UTC #178 will finalize content for the alpha release
  • February – March: alpha release for public review
  • April: UTC #179 will finalize content for the beta release
  • May – June: beta release for public review
  • July: UTC #180 will finalize 16.0 content
  • September: Unicode 16.0 release
UTC is still adjusting to changes in how work for each release is managed. So, while this will be a “full” release, UTC will be conservative about taking on too many changes, particularly to algorithm specifications (UAXes, UTSes). Also, a new format for the core text will be used in this release: instead of PDF, it will be published using Web technologies (HTML, etc.) To get early validation on format changes, the alpha release will include a sampling of content from the core text.

Unicode 16.0 character and emoji repertoire

UTC had previously approved 1,179 characters for encoding in Unicode 16.0. At this UTC meeting, 15 additional characters were approved for version 16.0, including seven emoji characters. UTC has been planning to include nearly 4,000 additional Egyptian Hieroglyphs in Unicode 16.0. The proposal was discussed, and a small revision was requested. It’s expected these will be approved for Unicode 16.0 at the next UTC meeting. Apart from the additional hieroglyphs, we expect no further characters will be added to the Unicode 16.0 repertoire.

Beside characters approved for Unicode 16.0, code points were provisionally assigned for 184 new characters that are candidates for encoding in a future Unicode version.

See the Pipeline page for all characters currently approved for Unicode 16.0, along with code points provisionally assigned for future encoding.

Future of UAX #42, UCD in XML

UAX #42, Unicode Character Database in XML (UCDXML), was originally developed by Eric Muller. He and Laurentiu Iancu maintained UCDXML through many versions, and we’re very grateful for this contribution. Eric and Laurentiu are no longer available to maintain this, however, and no others have volunteered to take over maintenance. After discussion over several months in UTC and in the Properties and Algorithms working group, UTC has concluded the best option for the future of UAX #42 is to stabilize it, with data frozen at Unicode 15.1. A Public Review Issue will be posted to get feedback on this plan.

Future maintenance of UCS repertoire

UTC discussed a proposal for ISO/IEC JTC 1/SC 2 to adopt different process for future maintenance of the repertoire of ISO/IEC 10646 using a maintenance agency rather than the process that is used for developing entirely new standards, as done in the past. It was felt that this would be more agile and would align better to how expert input has guided actual encoding decisions for several years now. This proposal will be formally submitted to JTC 1/SC 2 as a proposal from the US national standards body.

Full details on these and other outcomes are provided in the minutes—see L2/23-231.

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