Communicator, Internet Explorer and Unicode

From: Tim Greenwood (
Date: Thu Oct 16 1997 - 16:36:27 EDT

There is an unfortunate problem with Netscape Communicator that greatly
reduces its usefulness with Unicode. When installing the Japanese version of
Communicator on a Japanese NT/Win 95 system it selects Times Roman/Courier
as the default fonts for Unicode. This was a system with no Unicode font,
though I believe that it does the same even if a Unicode font is installed.
A much better choice would have been the default Japanese fonts that it
chooses for pages encoded in a Japanese character set. This is what IE V4 on
the same machine chose. IE V4 installation on my machine which has the
Bitstream Cyberbit Unicode font installed has a strange behavior. It
displays the UTF-8 test page correctly - which is all that I ask - but under
Internet Options claims that it is using Times Roman/Courier for 'Universal
Alphabet'. (Test page is Misha's Do not remove it until you
have the equivalent for iuc12!).

A sensible strategy for a web product is to examine the browsers
ACCEPT-CHARSET header, and if it accepts UTF-8, then send UTF-8. This
strategy now requires that the consumer understands enough about code sets
and fonts to know that they are getting pages in Unicode, go to
Edit/Preferences/Appearance/Fonts and set the encoding for Unicode to an
applicable font. This is not going to happen, instead the consumer will
conclude that the page sender is at fault, thus effectively removing this
strategy from all products who cannot control the consumer base.
Tim Greenwood Open Market Inc..
617-949-7166 Cambridge, MA

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