Re: Ways to show Unicode contents on Windows?

From: Richard Wordingham <>
Date: Thu, 11 Jul 2013 23:47:02 +0100

On Thu, 11 Jul 2013 17:41:34 +0000
Peter Constable <> wrote:

> It's not clear to me what you're asking, or why you are asserting
> that "there is no way to show Unicode contents on Windows".

What Ilya wants is automatic fallback to a supporting font if there is
one. For example, I have a couple of Tai Tham fonts (one using Graphite
and another, incomplete, not using Graphite) on my Windows 7 machine.

If I use Word 2002 (quite possibly a later version will do better), and
type Tai Tham text into it, I have to select the Tai Tham font
manually, or else I just get boxes for undefined glyphs. Similarly with
Notepad. If I use OpenOffice 3.3.0, it finds one of the fonts and uses
it. Ilya reports that Firefox *used* to have a similar capability by
default - it would search all the fonts installed on the machine until
it found one that supported the characters (or script?).

> For simple scripts that do not require shaping that are not yet
> supported, if you have the font and can select the font in your app,
> then text in those scripts can be displayed. Of course, we don't have
> built-in font fallback for such scripts.

Now Tai Tham is a complex script, but even unintelligent rendering can
be helpful, and is better than none.

Now it so happens that these Tai Tham fonts claim to support Latin-1,
and therefore I have no difficulty in selecting them in any of these
three. However, I had a different experience with Malayalam. Although
Notepad falls back to Kartika, I have found no way of selecting
it for Notepad, which is perturbing. I suspect this is
because it does not claim to support Latin-1. Presumably, if I updated
the Tai Tham fonts to indicate no support for Latin-1 (and one of them
is truly unsuitable for Latin-1 - it can't even display its own name
properly), I would be unable to use them with Notepad.

What Ilya is lamenting is that there is no way to show arbitrary Unicode
content on Windows whenever there is a supporting font, unless one
explicitly specifies the font. Now, things are not quite so bad - if
you can salvage old versions of some applications, you can. However,
what is depressing him is that this seems not to be true of the latest
versions of maintained software, at least, unless you enable an obscure
option. This isn't particularly a dig at Microsoft - the open source
offerings are now just as disappointing.

Received on Thu Jul 11 2013 - 17:54:11 CDT

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