> So, then, is UTF-32 fixed-width, or must we aim for a UTF-128
> or some such, to end this kind of kludge?
Nope, the 21-bit characters of UTF-32 are sufficient forever.
But a user-visible "character" may contain any number of diacritical
marks, each of which may require its own 32-bit Unicode.
> How do ATSUI & TEC deal with these variable-width characters
> and then how can one create custom styles?
I can't speak to that software specifically, but a common approach is
to use UTF-16 and treat surrogate pairs as ligatures. In other
words, in a font which has a glyph for DESERET CAPITAL LETTER LONG I
(provisionally U+10400), insert the mapping "D801+DC00 -> glyph_index(deseretII)"
into the ligature table.
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