Defect Report #279

Previous Defect Report < - > First Defect Report
 

Submitter: Raymond Mak (US)
Submission Date: 2001-10-18
Source: J11
Reference Document: ISO/IEC WG14 N956
Version: 1.2
Date: 2002-05-15
Subject: Wide character code values for members of the basic character set

Summary

Standard C requires ('x' == L'x') to hold true if x is a member of the basic character set. This restricts the implementation's choice of wchar_t encoding. The restriction makes it very difficult, if not impossible, for EBCDIC based system to use Unicode as the wchar_t encoding.

Note: For the purpose of this DR, we will call this restriction the wchar_t restriction.

Details

C99 7.17 paragraph 2 specifies in part:

"...

   wchar_t

which is an integer type whose range of values can represent distinct codes for all members of the largest extended character set specified among the supported locales; the null character shall have the code value zero and each member of the basic character set shall have a code value equal to its value when used as the lone character in an integer character constant."

Since the code value of the basic characters in UCS-2 and UCS-4 are based on ASCII, EBCDIC systems cannot conform to the last sentence of the above if the encoding of wchar_t is UCS-2 or UCS-4. This makes it unnecessarily difficult for EBCDIC systems to use Unicode with the C language.

A program knows the type of characters (wide or normal) it is processing. Therefore the appropriate character literal can always be used in an expression. In situations where a program does need to mix normal and wide character code values, the btowc and wctob functions should be used (7.24.6.1 and .2). Facilitating such mixing were the original reason for imposing the wchar_t restriction in C90. With the introduction of these two functions in Amendment 1, this restriction can be relaxed with little practical impact to the programmer.
 

Suggested Technical Corrigendum

Suggestion 1

This change allows an implementation to deviate from the last part of 7.17 paragraph 2 if the macro __STDC_BTOWC_NEQ_WCTOB__ is predefined. This would not affect ASCII based systems, but would provide leeway for EBCDIC systems to process Unicode using C.

Change the last part of 7.17 paragraph 2 as follows:

"...

   wchar_t

which is an integer type whose range of values can represent distinct codes for all members of the largest extended character set specified among the supported locales; the null character shall have the code value zero. Each member of the basic character set shall have a code value equal to its value when used as the lone character in an integer character constant if an implementation does not define __STDC_BTOWC_NEQ_WCTOB__."

A program that requires the wchar_t restriction can check for the macro and cause the translator to put out a diagnostic if the implementation does not support the restriction. This at least would help diagnose porting problems.

Suggestion 2

This change removes the restriction altogether.

Change the last part of 7.17 paragraph 2 as follows:

"...

   wchar_t

which is an integer type whose range of values can represent distinct codes for all members of the largest extended character set specified among the supported locales; the null character shall have the code value zero."

Suggestion 3

This change reverses the meaning of the macro in suggestion 1 and combine with the text in suggestion 2. An implementation can assert conformance to the wchar_t restriction by defining the macro __STDC_BTOWC_EQ_WCTOB__.

Note: Despite what the macro name suggests, btowc and wctob may not be the same disregard of the mapping of the basic character set because of EOF/WEOF.

Change the last part of 7.17 paragraph 2 as follows:

"...

   wchar_t

which is an integer type whose range of values can represent distinct codesfor all members of the largest extended character set specified among thesupported locales; the null character shall have the code value zero."

Add the following paragraph to 7.24.1 after #3.

"The macro __STDC_BTOWC_EQ_WCTOB__ is defined if the implementation intends to assert that for each member of the basic character set the wchar_t encoding has a code value equal to its value when used as the lone character in an integer character constant."


Proposed Technical Corrigendum

Change the last part of 7.17 paragraph 2 as follows:

"...

   wchar_t

which is an integer type whose range of values can represent distinct codes for all members of the largest extended character set specified among the supported locales; the null character shall have the code value zero."


Previous Defect Report < - > First Defect Report