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Eric,

 > Sorry for replying late. Hey, in the internet age, a 4 days delay is a
 > long time...

perhaps but sometimes on this list half a year is fast.

 > What is sure, is that once a default encoding is choosen, it will be hard
 > to change it (the only way would probably be to change \documentclass
 > into \documenttype :-)

which is a problem at this current point in time as well.

 > > finally applying the wrong input encoding to a document not in that
 > > encoding results in typesetting errors but not in compilation errors.
 > > true, this can also happen if you explicitly specify the wrong encoding
 > > but this is a conscious act (or so we would hope) and not something htat
 > > happens behind the scene
 >
 > I have seen many beginners that begin typing in french their document
 > without declaring an inputenc, and not realizing at once that accents are
 > missing in the document. I would not call forgetting an \usepackage
 > declaration a conscious act.

this is a problem agreed, because of this unfortunate fact of letting 8bit
loose if no inputenc is specified.

but providing an input encoding automatically would be a big compatibility
problem and within 2e kernel we have a firm policy of not doing this (and if
we move it to a package (aka inputenc) then you are back to your above
problem).


 > > which reminds me: please take the list of languages babel currently supports
 > > and attach to them input/font encoding defaults that would be suitable, i
 > > would really be interested in see such a list (and have it disucssed)
 >
 > Oh, I am certainly not able to do that. If I was to make a choice, I
 > would use the appropriate latinxxx encodings for each language, but I am
 > certainly not qualified to choose for all those languages.

who will? the user groups? for many lanugages there isn't a user group

anyway, for the code that i'm currently writing i've added a way to specify
inputencodings by language (or script) at least for the moment

frank