[whatwg] ISO 639 / ISO 3166 / ISO 4217 inputs

Ian Hickson ian at hixie.ch
Sun Aug 29 13:50:15 PDT 2004

On Fri, 27 Aug 2004, Christian Schmidt wrote:
> Ian Hickson wrote:
> > The problem is that even if the list is updated, the UAs aren't. If this had
> > been done from the start, people using IE2 would have ancient country lists,
> > and there would be little that page authors could do about it.
> People using legacy UAs would have to either enter their country code directly
> in a text field or select their country from a list of provided by the page
> author or the author of the Webforms-for-legacy-UA's-library he is using. So
> adding a country selector to the Webforms specification would be status quo
> for users of legacy UAs.

My point wasn't legacy UAs. It was UAs that become out of date but support 
this, thus showing a different set of countries than the author is 

> On the other hand, if a user lives in a new country, he could either 
> upgrade his UA or update the country list (if it is editable), or he 
> could wait for each and every site owner in the world to update their 
> list. If it is a small country, this could take a long time. For these 
> users, upgrading their UA or editing the country list would probably be 
> easier.

The server side will _still_ need to upgrade to handle the new country. So 
this point is moot -- in fact it is making things worse, by having the 
user be able to enter something the server can't handle.

> > Also, note that vendors typically want to stay WELL away from 
> > specifying stuff like this. Microsoft got in serious trouble when they 
> > drew a map for the timezone selector -- based on UN data! -- of 
> > countries near India, and got disputed regions... "wrong".
> Somebody still has to make a decision, unless the server accepts any 
> two-letter code without checking whether this is actually a real 
> country.

Servers can more easily adapt to changes and controversies than clients.

> I suggest that the UA could contain a default list of countries based on 
> UN data or whatever. It should be possible for the user to add entries 
> to this list by entering a country name and a two-letter code. The 
> server should accept any two-letter code, unless it knows for sure that 
> it isn't a valid code (according to the page author's point of view).
> Most users would probably only ever select one or two different 
> countries from this list (typically the country they currently live in). 
> If these countries do not appear in the list provided by the UA vendor, 
> the user would only have to enter them once. This would only apply to 
> few users, namely those who live in places that have disputes about the 
> country code.

I still don't really see the advantage over this (fragile) system compared 
to the status quo which just has the server list the countries it 
understands. The status quo is backwards compatible, proven to work, 
doesn't require any user configuration, doesn't require clients to 
autoupdate themselves, can't become out-of-sync with the server's setup, 
can be easily tweaked to meet local needs, can easily represent the 
server-side political position on controversial countries, is simpler to 
implement, and has simpler markup.

Ian Hickson               U+1047E                )\._.,--....,'``.    fL
http://ln.hixie.ch/       U+263A                /,   _.. \   _\  ;`._ ,.
Things that are impossible just take longer.   `._.-(,_..'--(,_..'`-.;.'

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