Extending Unicode character viewers

From: Bohdan Kantor (bkan@loc.gov)
Date: Sat Sep 11 1999 - 17:47:47 EDT

After learning the fundamentals in Asmus Freytag's excellent required course:
"Introducing Unicode®: A Tutorial" at IUC15, I recommend a field trip into your
Windows character landscape with Bjondi's Character Agent 1.1 and Bill Hall's
Charsets 1.02 viewer. These global nifty utilities deserve some recognition and
additional support.

Character Agent provides the options of a panoramic scroll through the entire
Unicode 2.1 character set or selection of a range from a drop-down character
block list. Type in a Unicode hexadecimal identifier or select a character name
from a drop-down list. Voilą! the highlighted character appears along with
Unicode and glyph properties.

For the scholarly and library community needing more in-depth context, try Bill
Hall's Charsets viewer. After selecting a Unicode font, page your way through
8-row by 16-column Unicode character blocks. Right mouse click over your
character choice in the block and pull down the menu options selecting
"character properties". Observe the many property types with associated values.
For example, selecting an individual Han character properties displays the
Unicode hex value and legacy values such as GB, BigFive, CCCII, EACC alpha
numeric. Other values include Matthews dictionary number, definition,
transliterated sound with tone number, etc. Charsets viewer provides cultural
context for many Unicode code points.

After taking time to praise these Unicode teaching tools produced with limited
resources, it's time to make my plea. Unicode members, raise your hands if you'd
like to see the interactivity of these treasured Unicode viewers extended to
manipulating structured Unicode code point labeling in Microsoft Access 2000
*.mdb files or other object / relational database formats from IBM, Informix,
Object Design, Oracle, Sybase, Versant, etc. What about portable Java classes
and apps support? XML portable data interchange file formats? Improved
searchable indices? These enhancements and increased structuring of The Unicode
Standard, Version 3.0 character set database, may encourage The Standard to be
more readily translated into languages other than English and become a global
standard in practice. Any other ideas to improve the interactivity of Unicode
teaching tools?

More importantly, any volunteers or resources to further develop Unicode
self-paced learning/teaching tools? At IUC15 some of you may have heard the
developer's mantra: Java portable apps, XML portable data using a common
underlying Unicode standard encoding. Unicode Consortium members could
learn/teach by extending the interactivity and portability of the Unicode 3.0
character set database.

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