String.fromCodePoint and surrogate pairs?

Shawn Steele Shawn.Steele at
Wed Dec 12 15:17:41 PST 2012

I was looking at D75 of 3.8 "Surrogates"

My point is that there's no "legal" scenario for converting basically a UTF-32 input to an isolated surrogate pair.  No valid Unicode string could contain that.  So why support it?


-----Original Message-----
From: Norbert Lindenberg [mailto:ecmascript at] 
Sent: Wednesday, December 12, 2012 2:40 PM
To: Shawn Steele
Cc: Norbert Lindenberg; Erik Arvidsson; es-discuss at
Subject: Re: String.fromCodePoint and surrogate pairs?

The Unicode standard defines "code point" as any value in the range of integers from 0 to 0x10FFFF - see definitions D9 and D10 of chapter 3 [1].

Once you exclude surrogate code points, you have Unicode scalar values (definition D76), so you're basically proposing a String.fromScalarValue function. But then, why not also exclude code points that Unicode has defined as non-characters (chapter 16.7 [2])? It seems we're getting into policy-setting here, and so far ECMAScript has avoided setting policy for how you can use strings.



On Dec 12, 2012, at 13:55 , Shawn Steele wrote:

> IMO String.fromCodePoint should disallow U+D800-U+DFFF.
> There's already fromCharCode that does that, and a according to The Unicode Standard, isolated surrogates have no meaning on their own and goes on to compare them to illegal UTF-8 sequences.  IMO "CodePoint" is a 21 Unicode code point, and explicitly not UTF-16, so it shouldn't confuse things by allowing UTF-16 (or other encoding) forms.
> -Shawn
> -----Original Message-----
> From: es-discuss-bounces at 
> [mailto:es-discuss-bounces at] On Behalf Of Norbert 
> Lindenberg
> Sent: Wednesday, December 12, 2012 1:25 PM
> To: Erik Arvidsson
> Cc: es-discuss at
> Subject: Re: String.fromCodePoint and surrogate pairs?
> Do you know what the people who talked to you mean by "aware of UTF-16 code units"?
> As specified, String.fromCodePoint, accepts all UTF-16 code units because they use a subset of the integers allowed as code points (0 to 0xFFFF versus 0 to 0x10FFFF). For non-surrogate values, you get exactly what you expect. Surrogate values are interpreted as surrogate code points, which are valid code points in Unicode (their use makes a string ill-formed in Unicode terminology, but the proposed ECMAScript spec ignores issues of well-formedness for compatibility with ES5). Since in conversion to UTF-16 a surrogate code point just becomes the corresponding code unit, it can happen that two surrogate code points (an ill-formed sequence) become a well-formed surrogate pair:
> String.fromCodePoint(0xD83D, 0xDE04) => "\uD83D\uDE04" =
> "😄".
> The story for UTF-8 is very different: Of course all UTF-8 code units would be accepted by String.fromCodePoint, but they would turn into a completely different character sequence. E.g., the UTF-8 byte sequence for 😄:
> String.fromCodePoint(0xF0, 0x9F, 0x98, 0x84) => "\u00F0\u009F\u0098\u0084" = "ð\u009F\u0098\u0084" (the last three are control characters).
> Handling UTF-8 would require a way to identify the character encoding to convert from, which indicates the beginning of an encoding conversion API, and the internationalization ad-hoc decided not to work on one within ECMAScript. There is an API being defined as part of the encoding standard project at WhatWG.
> Norbert
> On Dec 12, 2012, at 7:46 , Erik Arvidsson wrote:
>> It was suggested to me that we could probably extend String.fromCodePoint to be aware of UTF-16 code units too. It seems doable since the lead surrogate is not a valid code point.
>> The question is if it is worth it? It seems like we are going down a slippery slope if we start to do things like this. Should we also handle UTF-8 code units. Maybe it is better not to do this and try to get people to move away from UTF-16 code units and move them towards code points.
>> --
>> erik
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