glyph selection for Unicode in browsers

From: Tex Texin (
Date: Wed Sep 25 2002 - 14:51:28 EDT

  • Next message: Tex Texin: "Re: glyph selection for Unicode in browsers"

    Declaring "lang" for text, should help a browser display the text more
    appropriately for the specified language.
    (e.g. <span lang="es">Hola</span>

    It seems especially appropriate for Unicode text, since an Asian
    character may have very different display requirements in different
    languages (CJKT), and the Han unification brought many of these glyph
    variants together.

    However, I am finding that browsers are not supporting this in a way
    that is useful for Unicode.

    What has been working so far is that the browsers can associate
    different fonts with different languages. So I might use a Japanese font
    such as Mincho for Japanese text and another font for Chinese text.
    However, now that there are "Unicode" fonts, if I assign a Unicode font
    such as Arial Unicode MS, or CODE2000, to all languages, then I see the
    same glyph for a character, regardless of the lang assignment.

    I would like to understand why this is. (Bear in mind, I don't know much
    more than the rudiments of font technology.)

    a) Do Unicode fonts include the language-based glyph variants of
    characters, so that a display system is capable of identifying or
    hinting which glyph should be used in a particular scenario?

    b) If the above is possible, then I assume the browsers have not
    implemented language-based selection yet. Are any browsers moving to
    using the appropriate glyphs based on language without depending on each
    language being assigned a different font?

    c) If the above is not possible, then configuring browsers for Unicode
    usage is greatly complicated by the need to have a lengthy list of fonts
    assigned to different languages. Is there an alternative approach that
    can be used, so users can easily view Unicode text and get the correct
    display while using a single "Unicode" font?

    Ideally (to my mind) I should be able to create web pages in Unicode,
    with appropriate lang declarations and get reasonable displays on
    systems where a user does not do much more than have available a Unicode
    font. However, this does not seem to be the case at the moment.

    If it will help I can post some test pages I have been using where I
    take a string of characters and repeat them with different lang
    assignments. The text looks the same unless I choose to assign different
    fonts to each language in the browser preferences.
    The examples are trivial so I haven't bothered to post them.

    I would be glad to learn if there is another approach which is easy for
    users to configure, that gives appropriate text rendering.

    Tex Texin   cell: +1 781 789 1898
    Xen Master                
    Making e-Business Work Around the World

    This archive was generated by hypermail 2.1.5 : Wed Sep 25 2002 - 15:43:49 EDT