Standardizing icon names: flags
frans.englich at telia.com
Wed Nov 10 19:31:00 EET 2004
(CC'd to the participants of the flags sub-thread on the XDG list,
concerning icon name standardization)
I have re-read the flag discussion, and I see an agreement on the potential
problems flags causes, but I also find it uncertain how that in concrete
terms should take form in the specification. I would like to take a last,
quick look at this issue, before I prepare the second draft.
There is no hesitation for that flags potentially causes trouble, as countless
of examples and prior discussions shows. The Icon Theme Specification can
hence not contain anything which poses those problems on anyone who wants to
conform to the specification. For example, it can under no circumstances
require distributors to ship actual flags.
However, while flags clearly are complicated in some situations, they are also
in some case of interest -- some users wants flags, others don't. In other
words, the flag-dilemma is a subjective and conventional matter, with no
absolute answers. The specification may not force a definite answer, whether
flags should be used or not, on anyone, but leave that to the implementors,
such that flexibility is kept, and the policy decision is where it belongs:
at the user, or whatever service provider acting on his/her behalf.
The reason to why I want icon names for flags standardized in the
specification, is to make it easier for /everyone/ to have the flags exactly
the way they want it, without restraining others. The principle is very
simple: when the policy decision is done in the icon theme, it's only a
matter of selecting an icon theme of ones taste, to get whatever flags -- or
none -- of interest. For example, RedHat, who doesn't want to ship flags,
will simply use an icon theme with blank icons, and they have solved the flag
issue for all of their applications.
The alternative is to not have flag-names in the specification. By doing that,
the highly subjective and touchy decision of using flags or not, have been
pushed back on individual projects and applications, instead of being coded
centrally in the icon theme.
In concrete terms, would the names be "flag-xx" where "xx" is a two-letter
code for a country, as per ISO 639.
To make it clear: Standardizing the names does not mean everyone have to
design flags and ship them, it only requires that images are
there(transparent, blank), or noon at all, if it is known what applications
will need. That's the point with the icon theme; the design/implementation is
in the theme.
Alexander(RedHat, Gnome), writes in the thread:
"The only way we would ship this is with blank files for all flag-xx. What use
is standardizing them then?"
First of all, there are others except RedHat/Gnome that will use the
specification, so while it won't gain Redhat/Gnome on that particular point,
it do gain others. Second, one advantage, even for those who won't ship
"real" flags, is that their work have become simpler; instead of forking
existing packages or persuading maintainers to follow their opinions in the
flag issue, they simply use their own icon theme. Less friction, because the
policy decision is in the theme.
Another comment Alexander did, was that he thought mapping country codes to
flag symbols is tricky -- but that task is only for those who choose to ship
flags, it's not a dilemma the specification would create. For example, it's
not a problem for RedHat since they won't ship flags.
Think twice, and think about everyone the spec will affect, and object if that
is what you think. Make sure you have a good reason.
Whatever people prefer, will be what the second draft contains.
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