Pronunciation Attribute Extension for vCard

1998-04-21

Contents:

1. Background
2. Implementation of Double-byte Characters
3. An Extension of Pronunciation Attribute
4. Concluding Remarks


1. Background

Electronic mail and PIM (Personal Information Management) increase in their use in information appliances every day. The vCard and vCalendar formats, which are maintained by the Internet Mail Consortium (IMC), have become a standard format for the interchange of address information and schedule data in PIM application.

The Easy Internet Association (EIA), a non-profit organization whose goal is to find the best solution for the Internet home appliances in Japan, has organized a PIM working group (WG) to discuss the extension format of vCard for Japanese language. The WG consists of CASIO Computer Co., Ltd., NEC Home Electronics Ltd., and SHARP Corporation (these three companies are major manufactures of Japanese word processing machines and PDAs); and Seiko Epson Co., NTT, and Recruit Co., Ltd. (these three companies are Internet content providers).

EIA tried to make the Japanese version in accordance with the data-exchange format of Japanese word processors, called "J-Address", and found the following two points must be considered to match the vCard format.

ACCESS Co., Ltd., an IMC member, have proposed on extension format for vCard. IMC accepted the proposal, and now makes it available to the public on IMC web site for promoting this extension.


2. Implementation of Double-byte Characters

Double-byte characters can be implemented with vCard version 2.1 and RFC 1468. For example, when using ISO2022-JP as a character set and Base64 as encode type, a name property becomes:
N;CHARSET=ISO2022-JP;ENCODE=BASE64:family name;given name;

When double-byte characters are implemented in vCard, the discriminator, ;CHARSET=ISO2022-JP;ENCODE=BASE64:, must be included in every property name where the double-byte characters are used.


3. An Extension of Pronunciation Attribute

The pronunciation attribute of names can be indicated by preceding the name with a string enclosed by '<' and '>' that contains the pronunciation. The pronunciation attribute is commonly used for sorting the names, and is also used as the key for searching the names. This extension allows for simplified sorting and searching in some languages as well. If the pronunciation string contains either the '<' or '>' characters, those characters within the string must be preceded by the '\' character.

The expressions for the family name and given name in a name property becomes:

<pronunciation of the family name>family name
<pronunciation of the given name>given name
An example of these in Japanese might be:

Without Base64 encoding, a name property with pronunciation would look like:

N:<pronunciation of the family name>family name;<pronunciation of the given name>given name;

Each pronunciation is put before the name being pronounced, so that even an application which does not know about this extension format can easily sort using the pronunciation attribute. When encoding, '<' and '>' are also Base64-encoded for each field.

A vCard name property might be:

N;CHARSET=ISO2022-JP;ENCODE=BASE64:PBskQiQtJD8kYCRpGyhCPhskQktMQjwbKEI=;PBskQiRmJCYkOBsoQj4bJEJNOkZzGyhC;
Pronunciation can also be used in any text field. For example, it can be company names, such as organization name and unit name. The expressions for the organization name and organization unit in a organization property becomes:
<pronunciation of organization name>organization name
<pronunciation of organization unit>organization unit
A Japanese example might look like:


4. Concluding Remarks

The function of address books and scheduling using vCard and vCalendar will spread on cellular phones, handheld computers, small PDA and other mobile devices. The exchange of data between different devices will become more and more important. We hope that this proposed extension helps companies implement Japanese vCard in many information appliance and hope to see the implementation of the extension format in a wide range of Internet services.