Re: What ASN.1 got right

George Michaelson <> Wed, 03 March 2021 00:00 UTC

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From: George Michaelson <>
Date: Wed, 3 Mar 2021 10:00:35 +1000
Message-ID: <>
Subject: Re: What ASN.1 got right
To: Nico Williams <>
Cc: Michael Thomas <>, Phillip Hallam-Baker <>, IETF Discussion Mailing List <>
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I "worked" (some might dispute it was work, or even helped) on X.500
in UCL-CS under Steve Kille, and at CSIRO, in this time. (on Quipu)
and at UQ in a national X500 project we ran in AARNet.

The X.500 nameforms are complex because human names are complex. I
have friends with one name, who are forced to enter their names twice,
to pass input field validity checks, and who have problems at borders
with their passport and data matching.

Some people change names as a function of gender re-assignment (when
the titular element of the name is baked into the name) or because of
ritual or because of status changes. Names are not static

Name order is cultural. Japan, with the change of Emperor, semi-hemi
formally changed the expected display order of Surname and given name.
Some Japanese like it and some don't. Chinese and Korean and
Vietnamese might share this, or not, "it depends"

I think there is a version of "7 bit ascii was good enough for me" in
names. People love to simplify from their own cultural norms. This
rarely scales.

I worked on this, in an economy (Australia) with 40% of the population
of migrant extraction or actually migrants themselves. I can tell you,
Names are not simple.

X.500 is complicated because names are complicated.