From: John H. Jenkins (email@example.com)
Date: Fri Feb 08 2008 - 15:15:08 CST
On Feb 8, 2008, at 1:46 PM, James Kass wrote:
> John H. Jenkins replied,
>>> My question was, mostly all proper publishing softwares do not
>>> yet support complex rendering. How many years since Unicode come
>>> into being?
>>> When is this going to be resolved, or do we plan on choosing an
>>> alternative encoding as Unicode is not working.
>> Well, what applications are you thinking of and on what platforms?
>> As I say, Word on Windows is fine for almost everything in
>> Unicode, and Pages on Mac OS X is fine for all of it. It is
>> resolved now in that sense.
> From Michael Kaplan's page, "Anyone Can Be Provincial", I scraped four
> script examples into a plain-text editor:
> அவர்கள் ஏன் தமிழில்
> பேசக்கூடாது ?
> რატომ არ ლაპარაკობენ
> ისინი ქართულად?
> Ինչու՞ նրանք չեն խոսում Հայերեն
Well, at least for the examples you cite, the situation is better on
Mac OS X. I did the same thing using two popular Mac text editors.
BBEdit results in:
Cutting and pasting from the PDF back into the text editor screwed up
the Tamil, but the others came through OK (albeit with extraneous line
And to be fair, Tom Gewecke pointed out to me privately that Pages
doesn't do bidi correctly, whereas Mellel does.
> It's this lack of support for complex scripts (and, by extension,
> Unicode) in popular publishing applications which is so distressing
> to users.
I'm in total agreement with you here, James. The big factor is
economics, as Ed points out. Supporting the non-complex rendering
bits of Unicode is relatively cheap and gets you the biggest markets:
the Americas, Europe, and East Asia. The cost-benefit ratio is much
worse when it comes to supporting bidi and complex scripts, so
companies cut corners by not supporting them.
The big OS companies can help by providing text engines like Uniscribe
or CoreText, but not everybody sees fit to use them. (Not even in the
I can remember, however, the days when companies had to spend millions
to rewrite their software to work with Japanese or Chinese. As a
result, those markets tended to have marginal support. Unicode has
improved that situation immensely. And without Unicode, companies
would *still* not be supporting South Asian languages, because they
would still have to rewrite their software to do it and it just
wouldn't be worth the cost.
Even if Unicode had used an encoding model for South Asian scripts
that didn't require complex rendering, the current problem would exist
because then text would display correctly but, for example, databases
would have to be substantially rewritten to convert the glyph stream
back into a series of letters for the operations that they typically
John H. Jenkins
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