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The GNU C Library

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6.5.4.2 Finding the conversion path in iconv

The set of available conversions form a directed graph with weighted edges. The weights on the edges are the costs specified in the `gconv-modules' files. The iconv_open function uses an algorithm suitable for search for the best path in such a graph and so constructs a list of conversions that must be performed in succession to get the transformation from the source to the destination character set.

Explaining why the above `gconv-modules' files allows the iconv implementation to resolve the specific ISO-2022-JP to EUC-JP conversion module instead of the conversion coming with the library itself is straightforward. Since the latter conversion takes two steps (from ISO-2022-JP to ISO 10646 and then from ISO 10646 to EUC-JP), the cost is 1+1 = 2. The above `gconv-modules' file, however, specifies that the new conversion modules can perform this conversion with only the cost of 1.

A mysterious item about the `gconv-modules' file above (and also the file coming with the GNU C library) are the names of the character sets specified in the module lines. Why do almost all the names end in //? And this is not all: the names can actually be regular expressions. At this point in time this mystery should not be revealed, unless you have the relevant spell-casting materials: ashes from an original DOS 6.2 boot disk burnt in effigy, a crucifix blessed by St. Emacs, assorted herbal roots from Central America, sand from Cebu, etc. Sorry! The part of the implementation where this is used is not yet finished. For now please simply follow the existing examples. It'll become clearer once it is. --drepper

A last remark about the `gconv-modules' is about the names not ending with //. A character set named INTERNAL is often mentioned. From the discussion above and the chosen name it should have become clear that this is the name for the representation used in the intermediate step of the triangulation. We have said that this is UCS-4 but actually that is not quite right. The UCS-4 specification also includes the specification of the byte ordering used. Since a UCS-4 value consists of four bytes, a stored value is effected by byte ordering. The internal representation is not the same as UCS-4 in case the byte ordering of the processor (or at least the running process) is not the same as the one required for UCS-4. This is done for performance reasons as one does not want to perform unnecessary byte-swapping operations if one is not interested in actually seeing the result in UCS-4. To avoid trouble with endianess, the internal representation consistently is named INTERNAL even on big-endian systems where the representations are identical.


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