Hebrew (was RE: Unicode Transcriptions)

From: Peter_Constable@sil.org
Date: Sun Feb 18 2001 - 00:17:24 EST

On 02/15/2001 10:49:00 AM ROBERT HODGSON wrote:

>I would very much appreciate being in touch with other colleagues who have
>had experience in displaying Hebrew characters with Unicode. Of interest
>us would be experiences in
> 1) browser selection
> 2) operating systems selection

The key question has to do with whether or not you need the accents
(cantillation marks). The key issue in terms of software (and fonts) in
support for complex script rendering.

Unpointed Hebrew can easily be supported on several OSes either using an
industry-standard codepage (e.g. Windows cp1255) as the encoding, or using
Unicode. Of course, the application also needs to support the encoding,
though for browsers I think this is not too much of a problem these days.

When you add vowel points, then you need to deal with proper positioning of
diacritics. A Hebrew-localised version of an OS (e.g. Hebrew Windows 9x)
will handle this, as can an OS that has the appropriate Hebrew-enablement
support. I believe Win9x/Me/2K can all do this provided Uniscribe is
installed (it will be, for example, if you install IE5.x and enable Hebrew
in the setup options); you will also need an appropriate font (also
installable with IE5.x). There is an important exception to this: complex
scripts are *not* supportable on Far East versions of Win9x, period.

I also believe the Mac OS with a Hebrew language pack will provide this.
Mac OS 8.6 and later can support pointed Hebrew via the ATSUI application
interfaces (in fact, support for Unicode-encoded Hebrew depends on that). I
don't know the score in detail for Unix/Linux, Java and other platforms.

This is talking about these OSes in general, but applications are also a
factor. For example, Mac OS 8.6 and later can support Hebrew via ATSUI, but
as yet, there are still only a limited number of apps that support ATSUI.
IE 5.x can support pointed Hebrew on any current flavour of Windows. On
Win2K, Uniscribe support is incorporated into the OS, so most apps should
be able to support pointed Hebrew - provided they use a standard OS
interface for drawing text.

I don't know for certain whether IE supports pointed Hebrew on the Mac, or
whether Netscape supports it on the Mac or on Win 9x/Me. I hope others will
fill you in - I'd like to know.

Now, when we add accents, things become more restricted. Currently shipping
versions of Uniscribe do not support Hebrew accents. I'm sure this will
likely change before long, but don't know for certain when. I don't know if
the Mac Hebrew language pack supports accents; ATSUI would. In a nutshell,
I don't know of any commercial business apps that support rendering of
accents. If you combine an app that supports Unicode with an appropriate
font, you can display them, but they won't be positioned correctly; each
one will occur in a default position.

> 3) size of Hebrew character set to chose
I'm not sure what you are asking here.

This doesn't answer everything, but I hope it helps.

- Peter

Peter Constable

Non-Roman Script Initiative, SIL International
7500 W. Camp Wisdom Rd., Dallas, TX 75236, USA
Tel: +1 972 708 7485
E-mail: <peter_constable@sil.org>

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