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!standard A.16(0/3)          12-03-13 AI12-0021-1/01
!class Amendment 12-03-13
!status work item 12-02-25
!status received 12-02-25
!priority High
!difficulty Hard
!subject Additional internationalization of Ada
!summary
**TBD.
!proposal
In addition to the facilities already provided,
(1) File and directory operations should support Unicode characters (presuming that the target file system does so);
(2) Exception messages and exception information should support Unicode characters;
(3) Command lines should support Unicode characters (presuming that the target system allows these).
!wording
** TBD.
!discussion
These issues defy an easy solution. Changing the behavior of the existing routines would break existing workarounds (which on some targets, like most Linux systems, have no problems with directly using UTF-8 strings) and other commonly used functionality (like encoding binary data in exception messages).
Adding even more Wide_Wide_ packages and routines is madness, and may not even make sense on many targets.
The crux of this problem is that the semantics and representation of strings have become co-mingled. What we really need to do is to separate these; the problem with that mostly with retaining adequate performance.
The way-out solution would be to declare a semi-magic Root_String interface (or perhaps an abstract type); the magic would be string literals (since "lvalue"s and indexing already can be supported with existing Ada 2012 facilities). Something on the line of:
package General_Strings is type Root_String is interface with Constant_Indexing => Get_Char, Variable_Indexing => Set_Char, String_Literal => Assign; -- A string literal calls this procedure.
function Get_Char (A : Root_String; I : Positive) return Wide_Wide_Character; -- Returns the Ith character of A (regardless of the representation of A).
type LValue (D : access Wide_Wide_Character) with Implicit_Dereferencing => D is null record;
function Set_Char (A : in out Root_String; I : Positive) return LValue; -- Returns a reference to the Ith character of A (regardless of the -- representation of A).
function Slice (A : Root_String; L : Positive; R : Natural) return Wide_Wide_String; -- Returns a slice of the string. (Not sure if this is a good idea, or best left out.)
-- One imagines an LValue slice as well; I'll leave that as an exercise for the reader.
procedure Assign (Trg : in out Root_String; Src : in Wide_Wide_String); -- Assigns Src to Trg, converting the representation as needed.
function Value (Obj : Root_String) return Wide_Wide_String; -- Retrieves the value of Obj as a Wide_Wide_String.
-- "&" defined in the expected way.
-- The stream attributes would be expected to work for these; perhaps they'd need -- to be part of the interface.
end General_Strings;
[Note: I didn't try to think of good names for these routines and parameters; that would need to done, of course.]
Then we'd have a bunch of concrete instances:
type Latin_1_String (L, R : Positive) is new General_Strings.Root_String with Obj : String (L .. R);
-- The obvious implementations of the routines.
type Bounded_UTF_8_String (Byte_Len : Natural) is new General_Strings.Root_String with Obj : UTF_8_String (1 .. Byte_Len);
-- The not-quite-so-obvious implementations of the routines.
and so on for every interesting representation.
In addition, we'd have Ada.Strings.General (which would have approximately the contents of Ada.Strings.Fixed, with all of the String parameters converted to Root_String'Class). And most of the IO routines that take strings would have versions that would take Root_String'Class (these would need different names or packages, unfortunately, to avoid ambiguity). Similarly for exception messages, and so on.
The real key here is that the string types would carry their representation along when passed into routines (which have to be new for this reason). Once that is available, then any problems can be dealt with by simply using whatever representation is appropriate for the target system.
This clearly will need a lot of work...
!ACATS test
** TBD.
!appendix

This AI was created from the ashes of AI05-0286-1 (that is, those portions
that defied an easy solution).

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