Web Publishing in the Uyghur Language

Joshua Edelstein & Michael Horlick - Radio Free Asia

Intended Audience: Web and Unicode Developers
Session Level: Intermediate

Radio Free Asia was established in 1996 to provide news and information to listeners in seven Asian countries. RFA's mission is to be a forum for a variety of opinions and voices from those Asian nations whose people do not have full freedom of expression.

RFA began regular Uyghur-language broadcasts on December 14, 1998. The Uyghurs are a Turkic-speaking Muslim group from Western China. Members of RFA's Technical Operations and Communications departments were beset with the challenge of facilitating the Uyghur language in that service's preparation of intra-departmental files, radio scripts and Web-ready documents.

RFA TechOps staff worked in conjunction with Unitype for several months in 1999 to develop a Uyghur font for incorporation into Unitype software packages and to secure the appropriate license to freely distribute that font over the Internet. Communications and TechOps then developed a method of publishing Uyghur text on the Web.

This paper will touch upon font, encoding, application and browser challenges including charset, bidi, font binding, programming language and other issues.


A large number of issues regarding Unicode fonts and their implementation still need to be addressed. While many of these problems can be circumvented by using methods unrelated to the Unicode standard, it is time to encourage the computer and Internet industry to create and support applications that are fully Unicode compliant (as opposed to occasionally compatible) and to further the use of the standard itself.

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19 Jun 2000, Webmaster