Re: Beta version of Unibook 5.1

From: Ed Trager (
Date: Wed Apr 11 2007 - 11:02:20 CST

  • Next message: "Re: Beta version of Unibook 5.1"

    On 4/11/07, <> wrote:
    > At the risk of being shot down in flames, as a Linux user I could
    > suggest an answer -- one might describe Unicode support for a OS as
    > the proportion of software that supports certain advanced features of
    > Unicode out of the box. What is advanced changes with time. Regarding
    > software the unicode supoort of the out of the box text editor, word
    > processor, web browser, spread sheet and terminal is what I would
    > usually look at first.

    However let's not forget that different users will have widely
    differing criteria on what they consider important Unicode support.
    For example, most general computer users probably don't use a terminal
    and therefore good Unicode support in a terminal would be irrelevant
    to them, even though it is important to you (and it turns out it is
    important to me as well. But I probably don't fit the category of an
    "ordinary" computer user).

    > When Mac OS updates then tend to update across
    > the board, which means it always scores well on such criteria. Windows
    > does not seem to do across the board updates, I am not sure why this
    > is. The same could also be said of Linux, the cause being that Linux
    > has many independent developers.
    > Back in 2002 a good criteria was surrogate support at which point in
    > time all the main applications on Mac OS supported surrogates, the
    > same could not be said for Windows or Linux.

    Since we are talking across OSes, it's probably better to say "support
    beyond the Basic Multilingual Plane". How many people really need
    support for Plane 1 characters, for example? Not that many, right?

    But wait : ... By far the most important Plane 1 script in my mind is
    Osmanya since this is a script that is still actively used for writing
    the Somali language. A revival in the use of this script may yet
    occur once Somalia is able to extract itself from years of civil war
    and clan strife.

    The script surely has potential to become a unifying force in a
    modern, post-war Somalia if only the deep-rooted history of clan
    factionalism can be subdued in the name of a unified nation as had
    been the dream of Somalis back in the 1960's.

    (The original 1960's dream of a Western-style democratic state in
    Somalia is probably no longer the prevaling dream among the younger
    generation now. The dream now is perhaps more likely for a unified
    Islamic state. The dream of a creating a national Islamic state has
    the same powerful lure and ability (as did the dream of democracy) to
    unify people in brotherhood across clan lines. Osmanya could likewise
    serve an immense unifying role in creating and substantiating a
    national identity that transcends clan factionalism.)

    With the advent of modern telecommunication service (cell phones) even
    in war-torn
    Somalia today, and the enabling power of modern computers, the
    internet, and Unicode to permit the dissemination and printing of
    information in almost any script, I think it is not too far off the
    mark to imagine a Somalia of tomorrow in which Osmanya is widely used
    as an officially-sanctioned national script for the Somali language.

    We will just have to wait and see if the confluence of circumstances
    and the spark of the collective Somali imagination will result in such
    an occurence. (But either way, we can congratulate Michael Everson
    already, for it appears to me from my reading of Somali-related
    internet forums that he is already a national hero for his work on
    Osmanya. Wow!).

    So, in conclusion, you are right: OS support beyond the BMP is
    crucially important, and we can imagine it becoming even more
    important within the short span of a few years, especially in Africa
    where other African scripts await encoding within Unicode.

    > Other criteria one could use are support for variation selectors, or
    > stacking diacritics. On windows one could also add which criteria
    > which applications support fall back fonts.

    What about really good support, right out-of-the-box, for input
    methods for major languages like Chinese, Japanese, and Korean? And
    what about having easily-installed or easily turned-on keyboard
    layouts for every script encoded in Unicode? What about having at
    least one good font for each of those scripts, right out-of-the box?
    These areas of basic functionality would rate very highly on my list.
    And I think they are very important to general computer users.

    In conclusion, I think Peter Constable's excellent question on how to
    describe "the best Unicode support of any OS out there" can best be
    answered by creating a web page which *objectively* describes support
    for various aspects of "Unicode support" on the three major OSes: Mac
    OS X, Windows, and Linux.

    Such a web site would in fact be very useful to a large number of
    people. But of course it is a bit of work :-).

    And it is also hard to find people who are truly objective -- too many
    of us --myself included!-- are often too "passionate" about one OS or
    another. Most often it is the OS that we have settled on using the
    most. Or in some people's cases, on this mailing list certainly, it
    is the OS they've hacked on the most because of their employment
    status within one of the major OS vendors or within some related

    - Ed Trager

    > Quoting Peter Constable <>:
    > > From: []
    > > On Behalf Of Marnen Laibow-Koser
    > >
    > >> Also, Mac OS X probably has
    > >> the best Unicode support of any OS out there
    > >
    > > I'm curious: how would you describe "the best Unicode support of any
    > > OS out there"?
    > >
    > > Peter
    > >

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