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What is Version Control?

* Version control systems keep track of multiple versions of a source file. They provide a more powerful alternative to keeping backup files (q.v.).

* Version control combines procedures and tools to manage different versions of source documents, are created during the software development process.

* Version Control is the process of managing and administrating versions of files. The Project Editor in SNIFF+ is the main tool for version control.

* A means to identify and manage configuration items as they change over time, usually provided by a software tool designed for configuration management [Ingram1993a].

What is Unicode?

Unicode provides a unique number for every character, no matter what the platform, no matter what the program, no matter what the language.

Fundamentally, computers just deal with numbers. They store letters and other characters by assigning a number for each one. Before Unicode was invented, there were hundreds of different encoding systems for assigning these numbers. No single encoding could contain enough characters: for example, the European Union alone requires several different encodings to cover all its languages. Even for a single language like English no single encoding was adequate for all the letters, punctuation, and technical symbols in common use. These encoding systems also conflict with one another. That is, two encodings can use the same number for two different characters, or use different numbers for the same character. Any given computer (especially servers) needs to support many different encodings; yet whenever data is passed between different encodings or platforms, that data always runs the risk of corruption.

Unicode is changing all that!

Unicode provides a unique number for every character, no matter what the platform, no matter what the program, no matter what the language. The Unicode Standard has been adopted by such industry leaders as Apple, HP, IBM, JustSystem, Microsoft, Oracle, SAP, Sun, Sybase, Unisys and others. Unicode is required by modern standards such as XML, Java, ECMAScript (JavaScript), LDAP, CORBA 3.0, WML, etc., and is the official way to implement ISO/IEC 10646. It is supported in many operating systems, all modern browsers, and other products. The emergence of the Unicode Standard, and the availability of tools supporting it, are among the most significant recent global software technology trends.

Incorporating Unicode into client-server or multi-tered applications and websites offers significant cost savings over the use of legacy character sets. Unicode enables a single software product or a single website to be targeted across multiple platforms, languages and countries without re-engineering. It allows data to be transported through many different systems without corruption.

About the Unicode Consortium

The Unicode Consortium is a non-profit organization founded to develop, extend and promote use of the Unicode Standard, which specifies the representation of text in modern software products and standards. The membership of the consortium represents a broad spectrum of corporations and organizations in the computer and information processing industry. The consortium is supported financially solely through membership dues. Membership in the Unicode Consortium is open to organizations and individuals anywhere in the world who support the Unicode Standard and wish to assist in its extension and implementation.

The Unicode Standard

The Unicode Standard is a character coding system designed to support the worldwide interchange, processing, and display of the written texts of the diverse languages and technical disciplines of the modern world. In addition, it supports classical and historical texts of many written languages.

Formally, a version of the Unicode Standard is defined by an edition of version of the book The Unicode Standard, together with the online Unicode Standard Annexes and the Unicode Character Database, which update and extend the books normative specifications and informative content. The precise contents of each version are specified on Enumerated Versions of the Unicode Standard.

The latest minor update version of the Unicode Standard is published online as Unicode 4.0.1. The major version, Unicode 4.0. is available in book form and online.

Unicode 4.0.1 updated several aspects of the standard which will be of particular interest to implementers.

* First, the Unihan database (Unihan.txt) went through a significant overhaul, the first since Unicode 3.2.0. This corrected a large number of problems noted for some fields of the database and added many new types of data about Han characters. Implementers concerned with CJK should definitely update their Unihan.txt data to Version 4.0.1.

* Second, the updates for UAX #9, The Bidirectional Algorithm, addressed a small but important set of differences between treatments for several common syntax characters relevant to date and URL/URI formats. Vendors with implementations of the Bidirectional Algorithm should update to Version 4.0.1 to maximize interoperability in interchange oftext.

* In addition, the Unicode Character Database (UCD) added new properties and aliases, and made changes to some property values that may impact some implementations.

* Finally, the changes in conformance clauses for the definitions of graphic character and of base characters in Version 4.0.1 allowed U+200D ZERO WIDTH JOINER and U+200C ZERO WIDTH NON-JOINER within valid combining character sequences, and cleared up ambiguities in the definitions which may have led to confusion about implementations for certain edge cases.


The Unicode Standard is maintained by the Unicode Technical Committee.

Further Information

Where is my Character? offers suggestions on how to find a character encoded in the Standard. There is also a Unicode Glossary and a list of Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ).

Contact the editor at
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Title Annotation:SOFTWARE WORLD INTELLIGENCE; version control
Publication:Software World
Date:Mar 1, 2005
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