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Subject: RE: [dita] hyphens and file names

I know they are all the rage in the URN and Unix
communities, but I have never liked underscores
in file names. In vaguely decreasing order of
importance, I dislike underscores because:

1. Lack of distinctness and clarity

My primary objection to underscore is that in file names
it is frequently unclear. When you underline text, a space
becomes indistinguishable from an underscore. The
underscores can't really be seen.

   a. Many older websites indicate links by turning the text
      blue and underlining it. The underscores vanish.

   b. Some editing packages default to underlines to show
      change (effectivity) or badly spelled words.
      Yes, you could change the default but many don't.

2. Hard to see - Underscores are (to my eyes) hard to see,
especially in print with close leading.

3. Confusion with commands. I avoid periods in element names
because they look like classes and mess with the java folks
heads. Similarly "HTTP_Get" and it's ilk are commands in
my world. Similarly, underscore is a command character
in LaTeX.

4. Underscore has a history that hyphens lack.

Underscores has been used historically as an "I can't cope"
character. Certain older version of both IE and some Adobe products,
inserted underscores when they could not cope with a character
in a filename
          deb.taz.zip ==> deb_tar.zip
for example, so many people (and some software) treat
underscore in certain locations in a file or path name
as errors or artifacts.

Software like IDEAs converted all characters (such as #,%,
{,},(,), etc.) to underscore in filenames.

4. Accessibility -
On most modern keyboards, underscore is a shift-click and
hyphen is a single click. Folks using their feet or a pen
in their teeth avoid shifting and all double motions.
(Yes, you can program them to be single, so this may be
a wash.)

Pronouncing software folks used to dislike underscore
(don't know if this one has been solved more recently)
a) There were too many different ways to pronounce it.
b) There was no one-syllable way to pronounce it (whereas
    hyphen can use "dash").
c) It was tricky (slower) to indicate in speech the difference
    between a character underscore that stands alone (or
    does it underline a space?) and an underscored
    character or word.

5. An then there is the issue of files names that turn
into parts of URNs, donšt get me started!


Deborah Aleyne Lapeyre               mailto:dalapeyre@mulberrytech.com
Mulberry Technologies, Inc.                http://www.mulberrytech.com
17 West Jefferson Street                    Direct Phone: 301/315-9633
Suite 207                                          Phone: 301/315-9631
Rockville, MD  20850                                 Fax: 301/315-8285
   Mulberry Technologies: A Consultancy Specializing in XML and SGML

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