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INFORMATIONAL

Network Working Group                                         M. Crispin
Request for Comments: 4042                             Panda Programming
Category: Informational                                     1 April 2005


                           UTF-9 and UTF-18
              Efficient Transformation Formats of Unicode

Status of This Memo

   This memo provides information for the Internet community.  It does
   not specify an Internet standard of any kind.  Distribution of this
   memo is unlimited.

Copyright Notice

   Copyright (C) The Internet Society (2005).

Abstract

   ISO-10646 defines a large character set called the Universal
   Character Set (UCS), which encompasses most of the world's writing
   systems.  The same set of codepoints is defined by Unicode, which
   further defines additional character properties and other
   implementation details.  By policy of the relevant standardization
   committees, changes to Unicode and amendments and additions to
   ISO/IEC 646 track each other, so that the character repertoires and
   code point assignments remain in synchronization.

   The current representation formats for Unicode (UTF-7, UTF-8, UTF-16)
   are not storage and computation efficient on platforms that utilize
   the 9 bit nonet as a natural storage unit instead of the 8 bit octet.

   This document describes a transformation format of Unicode that takes
   advantage of the nonet so that the format will be storage and
   computation efficient.

1.  Introduction

   A number of Internet sites utilize platforms that are not based upon
   the traditional 8-bit byte or octet.  One such platform is the PDP-
   10, which is based upon a 36-bit word.  On these platforms, it is
   wasteful to represent data in octets, since 4 bits are left unused in
   each word.  The 9-bit nonet is a much more sensible representation.

   Although these platforms support IETF standards, many of these
   platforms still utilize a text representation based upon the septet,




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   which is only suitable for [US-ASCII] (although it has been used for
   various ISO 10646 national variants).

   To maximize international and multi-lingual interoperability, the IAB
   has recommended ([IAB-CHARACTER]) that [ISO-10646] be the default
   coded character set.

   Although other transformation formats of [UNICODE] exist, and
   conceivably can be used on nonet-oriented machines (most notably
   [UTF-8]), they suffer significant disadvantages:

      [UTF-8]
         requires one to three octets to represent codepoints in the
         Basic Multilingual Plane (BMP), four octets to represent
         [UNICODE] codepoints outside the BMP, and six octets to
         represent non-[UNICODE] codepoints.  When stored in nonets,
         this results in as many as four wasted bits per [UNICODE]
         character.

      [UTF-16]
         requires a hexadecet to represent codepoints in the BMP, and
         two hexadecets to represent [UNICODE] codepoints outside the
         BMP.  When stored in nonet pairs, this results in as many as
         four wasted bits per [UNICODE] character.  This transformation
         format requires complex surrogates to represent codepoints
         outside the BMP, and can not represent non-[UNICODE] codepoints
         at all.

      [UTF-7]
         requires one to five septets to represent codepoints in the
         BMP, and as many as eight septets to represent codepoints
         outside the BMP.  When stored in nonets, this results in as
         many as sixteen wasted bits per character.  This transformation
         format requires very complex and computationally expensive
         shifting and "modified BASE64" processing, and can not
         represent non-[UNICODE] codepoints at all.

   By comparison, UTF-9 uses one to two nonets to represent codepoints
   in the BMP, three nonets to represent [UNICODE] codepoints outside
   the BMP, and three or four nonets to represent non-[UNICODE]
   codepoints.  There are no wasted bits, and as the examples in this
   document demonstrate, the computational processing is minimal.

   Transformation between [UTF-8] and UTF-9 is straightforward, with
   most of the complexity in the handling of [UTF-8].  It is hoped that
   future extensions to protocols such as SMTP will permit the use of
   UTF-9 in these protocols between nonet platforms without the use of
   [UTF-8] as an "on the wire" format.



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RFC 4042                    UTF-9 and UTF-18                1 April 2005


   Similarly, transformation between [UNICODE] codepoints and UTF-18 is
   also quite simple.  Although (like UCS-2) UTF-18 only represents a
   subset of the available [UNICODE] codepoints, it encompasses the
   non-private codepoints that are currently assigned in [UNICODE].

1.1.  Conventions Used in This Document

   The key words "MUST", "MUST NOT", "REQUIRED", "SHALL", "SHALL NOT",
   "SHOULD", "SHOULD NOT", "RECOMMENDED", "MAY", and "OPTIONAL" in this
   document are to be interpreted as described in BCP 14, RFC 2119
   [KEYWORDS].

2.  Overview

   UTF-9 encodes [UNICODE] codepoints in the low order 8 bits of a
   nonet, using the high order bit to indicate continuation.  Surrogates
   are not used.

   [UNICODE] codepoints in the range U+0000 - U+00FF ([US-ASCII] and
   Latin 1) are represented by a single nonet; codepoints in the range
   U+0100 - U+FFFF (the remainder of the BMP) are represented by two
   nonets; and codepoints in the range U+1000 - U+10FFFF (remainder of
   [UNICODE]) are represented by three nonets.

   Non-[UNICODE] codepoints in [ISO-10646] (that is, codepoints in the
   range 0x110000 - 0x7fffffff) can also be represented in UTF-9 by
   obvious extension, but this is not discussed further as these
   codepoints have been removed from [ISO-10646] by ISO.

   UTF-18 encodes [UNICODE] codepoints in the Basic Multilingual Plane
   (BMP, plane 0), Supplementary Multilingual Plane (SMP, plane 1),
   Supplementary Ideographic Plane (SIP, plane 2), and Supplementary
   Special-purpose Plane (SSP, plane 14) in a single 18-bit value.  It
   does not encode planes 3 though 13, which are currently unused; nor
   planes 15 or 16, which are private spaces.

   Normally, UTF-9 and UTF-18 should only be used in the context of 9
   bit storage and transport.  Although some protocols, e.g., [FTP],
   support transport of nonets, the current IETF protocol suite is quite
   deficient in this area.  The IETF is urged to take action to improve
   IETF protocol support for nonets.

3.  UTF-9 Definition

   A UTF-9 stream represents [ISO-10646] codepoints using 9 bit nonets.
   The low order 8-bits of a nonet is an octet, and the high order bit
   indicates continuation.




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   UTF-9 does not use surrogates; consequently a UTF-16 value must be
   transformed into the UCS-4 equivalent, and U+D800 - U+DBFF are never
   transmitted in UTF-9.

   Octets of the [UNICODE] codepoint value are then copied into
   successive UTF-9 nonets, starting with the most-significant non-zero
   octet.  All but the least significant octet have the continuation bit
   set in the associated nonet.

   Examples:

   Character  Name                                UTF-9 (in octal)
   ---------  ----                                ----------------
    U+0041    LATIN CAPITAL LETTER A              101
    U+00C0    LATIN CAPITAL LETTER A WITH GRAVE   300
    U+0391    GREEK CAPITAL LETTER ALPHA          403 221
    U+611B    <CJK ideograph meaning "love">      541 33
    U+10330   GOTHIC LETTER AHSA                  401 403 60
    U+E0041   TAG LATIN CAPITAL LETTER A          416 400 101
    U+10FFFD  <Plane 16 Private Use, Last>        420 777 375
   0x345ecf1b (UCS-4 value not in [UNICODE])      464 536 717 33

4.  UTF-18 Definition

   A UTF-18 stream represents [ISO-10646] codepoints using a pair of 9
   bit nonets to form an 18-bit value.

   UTF-18 does not use surrogates; consequently a UTF-16 value must be
   transformed into the UCS-4 equivalent, and U+D800 - U+DBFF are never
   transmitted in UTF-18.

   [UNICODE] codepoint values in the range U+0000 - U+2FFFF are copied
   as the same value into a UTF-18 value.  [UNICODE] codepoint values in
   the range U+E0000 - U+EFFFF are copied as values 0x30000 - 0x3ffff;
   that is, these values are shifted by 0x70000.  Other codepoint values
   can not be represented in UTF-18.

   Examples:

   Character  Name                                UTF-18 (in octal)
   ---------  ----                                ----------------
    U+0041    LATIN CAPITAL LETTER A              000101
    U+00C0    LATIN CAPITAL LETTER A WITH GRAVE   000300
    U+0391    GREEK CAPITAL LETTER ALPHA          001621
    U+611B    <CJK ideograph meaning "love">      060433
    U+10330   GOTHIC LETTER AHSA                  201460
    U+E0041   TAG LATIN CAPITAL LETTER A          600101




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5.  Sample Routines

5.1.  [UNICODE] Codepoint to UTF-9 Conversion

   The following routines demonstrate conversion from UCS-4 to UTF-9.
   For simplicity, these routines do not do any validity checking.
   Routines used in applications SHOULD reject invalid UTF-9 sequences;
   that is, the first nonet with a value of 400 octal (0x100), or
   sequences that result in an overflow (exceeding 0x10ffff for
   [UNICODE]), or codepoints used for UTF-16 surrogates.

   ; Return UCS-4 value from UTF-9 string (PDP-10 assembly version)
   ; Accepts: P1/ 9-bit byte pointer to UTF-9 string
   ; Returns +1: Always, T1/ UCS-4 value, P1/ updated byte pointer
   ; Clobbers T2

   UT92U4: TDZA T1,T1              ; start with zero
   U92U41:  XOR T1,T2              ; insert octet into UCS-4 value
           LSH T1,^D8              ; shift UCS-4 value
           ILDB T2,P1              ; get next nonet
           TRZE T2,400             ; extract octet, any continuation?
            JRST U92U41            ; yes, continue
           XOR T1,T2               ; insert final octet
           POPJ P,

   /* Return UCS-4 value from UTF-9 string (C version)
    * Accepts: pointer to pointer to UTF-9 string
    * Returns: UCS-4 character, nonet pointer updated
    */

   UINT31 UTF9_to_UCS4 (UINT9 **utf9PP)
   {
     UINT9 nonet;
     UINT31 ucs4;
     for (ucs4 = (nonet = *(*utf9PP)++) & 0xff;
          nonet & 0x100;
          ucs4 |= (nonet = *(*utf9PP)++) & 0xff)
       ucs4 <<= 8;
     return ucs4;
   }

5.2.  UTF-9 to UCS-4 Conversion

   The following routines demonstrate conversion from UTF-9 to UCS-4.
   For simplicity, these routines do not do any validity checking.
   Routines used in applications SHOULD reject invalid UCS-4 codepoints;
   that is, codepoints used for UTF-16 surrogates or codepoints with
   values exceeding 0x10ffff for [UNICODE].



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   ; Write UCS-4 character to UTF-9 string (PDP-10 assembly version)
   ; Accepts: P1/ 9-bit byte pointer to UTF-9 string
   ;          T1/ UCS-4 character to write
   ; Returns +1: Always, P1/ updated byte pointer
   ; Clobbers T1, T2; (T1, T2) must be an accumulator pair

   U42UT9: SETO T2,            ; we'll need some of these 1-bits later
           ASHC T1,-^D8        ; low octet becomes nonet with high 0-bit
   U32U91: JUMPE T1,U42U9X     ; done if no more octets
           LSHC T1,-^D8        ; shift next octet into T2
           ROT T2,-1           ; turn it into nonet with high 1 bit
           PUSHJ P,U42U91      ; recurse for remainder
   U42U9X: LSHC T1,^D9         ; get next nonet back from T2
           IDPB T1,P1          ; write nonet
           POPJ P,

   /* Write UCS-4 character to UTF-9 string (C version)
    * Accepts: pointer to nonet string
    *          UCS-4 character to write
    * Returns: updated pointer
    */

   UINT9 *UCS4_to_UTF9 (UINT9 *utf9P,UINT31 ucs4)
   {
     if (ucs4 > 0x100) {
       if (ucs4 > 0x10000) {
         if (ucs4 > 0x1000000)
           *utf9P++ = 0x100 | ((ucs4 >> 24) & 0xff);
         *utf9P++ = 0x100 | ((ucs4 >> 16) & 0xff);
       }
       *utf9P++ = 0x100 | ((ucs4 >> 8) & 0xff);
     }
     *utf9P++ = ucs4 & 0xff;
     return utf9P;
   }

6.  Implementation Experience

   As the sample routines demonstrate, it is quite simple to implement
   UTF-9 and UTF-18 on a nonet-based architecture.  More sophisticated
   routines can be found in ftp://panda.com/tops-20/utools.mac.txt or
   from lingling.panda.com via the file <UTF9>UTOOLS.MAC via ANONYMOUS
   [FTP].








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   We are now in the process of implementing support for nonet-based
   text files and automated transformation between septet, octet, and
   nonet textual data.

7.  References

7.1.  Normative References

   [FTP]           Postel, J. and J. Reynolds, "File Transfer Protocol",
                   STD 9, RFC 959, October 1985.

   [IAB-CHARACTER] Weider, C., Preston, C., Simonsen, K., Alvestrand,
                   H., Atkinson, R., Crispin, M., and P. Svanberg, "The
                   Report of the IAB Character Set Workshop held 29
                   February - 1 March, 1996", RFC 2130, April 1997.

   [ISO-10646]     International Organization for Standardization,
                   "Information Technology - Universal Multiple-octet
                   coded Character Set (UCS)", ISO/IEC Standard 10646,
                   comprised of ISO/IEC 10646-1:2000, "Information
                   technology - Universal Multiple-Octet Coded Character
                   Set (UCS) - Part 1: Architecture and Basic
                   Multilingual Plane", ISO/IEC 10646-2:2001,
                   "Information technology - Universal Multiple-Octet
                   Coded Character Set (UCS) - Part 2:  Supplementary
                   Planes" and ISO/IEC 10646-1:2000/Amd 1:2002,
                   "Mathematical symbols and other characters".

   [KEYWORDS]      Bradner, S., "Key words for use in RFCs to Indicate
                   Requirement Levels", BCP 14, RFC 2119, March 1997.

   [UNICODE]       The Unicode Consortium, "The Unicode Standard -
                   Version 3.2", defined by The Unicode Standard,
                   Version 3.0 (Reading, MA, Addison-Wesley, 2000.  ISBN
                   0-201-61633-5), as amended by the Unicode Standard
                   Annex #27: Unicode 3.1 and by the Unicode Standard
                   Annex #28: Unicode 3.2, March 2002.

7.2.  Informative References

   [US-ASCII]      American National Standards Institute, "Coded
                   Character Set - 7-bit American Standard Code for
                   Information Interchange", ANSI X3.4, 1986.

   [UTF-16]        Hoffman, P. and F. Yergeau, "UTF-16, an encoding of
                   ISO 10646", RFC 2781, February 2000.





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   [UTF-7]         Goldsmith, D. and M. Davis, "UTF-7 A Mail-Safe
                   Transformation Format of Unicode", RFC 2152, May
                   1997.

   [UTF-8]         Sollins, K., "Architectural Principles of Uniform
                   Resource Name Resolution", RFC 2276, January 1998.

8.  Security Considerations

   As with UTF-8, UTF-9 can represent codepoints that are not in
   [UNICODE].  Applications should validate UTF-9 strings to ensure that
   all codepoints do not exceed the [UNICODE] maximum of U+10FFFF.

   The sample routines in this document are for example purposes, and
   make no attempt to validate their arguments, e.g., test for overflow
   ([UNICODE] values great than 0x10ffff) or codepoints used for
   surrogates.  Besides resulting in invalid data, this can also create
   covert channels.

9.  IANA Considerations

   The IANA shall reserve the charset names "UTF-9" and "UTF-18" for
   future assignment.

Author's Address

   Mark R. Crispin
   Panda Programming
   6158 NE Lariat Loop
   Bainbridge Island, WA 98110-2098

   Phone: (206) 842-2385
   EMail: UTF9@Lingling.Panda.COM


















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   Internet Society.







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