RE: Why people still want to encode precomposed letters

From: Don Osborn (
Date: Sun Nov 16 2008 - 07:28:47 CST

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    From a user point of view - newcomer or not - problems with performance of the systems that they are using lead to questions about the problems. Most people (I daresay including a large number of computer experts) do not understand the workings of fonts and rendering, but see something that does not work as hoped or expected. In the case of combining diacritics that are not rendered properly, it's understandable that many people will react by questioning why the combinations in question are not encoded as precomposed characters.

    One response is explaining Unicode's policy, but as important as this be, it is not addressing the core issue - the reason why people bring up the issue of precomposed characters - which is poor rendering / positioning of combining diacritics.

    The real answer, which Karl emphasized in his original posting, is how to assure that combining diacritics do display correctly. There are several issues involved, but is there any overarching strategy to help address this? For instance, Michael mentioned that "there is no guidance or help for font developers" - how could such be developed and by who?

    Another thought is that as a part of addressing this issue, which is arguably the biggest "problem" with Unicode for users (or at least those users who encounter complex scripts), perhaps the "Display problems?" section on the Unicode site could be expanded to discuss combining diacritics. Or better yet, a new section like "Combining diacritic problems?" could be added to both explain the policy briefly and then discuss short and long-term fixes to common problems users encounter.


    > -----Original Message-----
    > From: [] On
    > Behalf Of Jukka K. Korpela
    > Sent: Sunday, November 16, 2008 2:43 AM
    > To: Unicode Mailing List
    > Subject: Re: Why people still want to encode precomposed letters
    > Doug Ewell wrote:
    > > "Jukka K. Korpela" <jkorpela at cs dot tut dot fi> wrote:
    > >
    > >> I think it is best to explain realistically that characters with
    > >> diacritic marks will not be added to Unicode as separately encoded,
    > >> i.e. as code points, as a matter of policy. You can say this in
    > >> different formulations and tones, of course. There’s no point in
    > >> getting into long arguments.
    > >
    > > In fairness, I can't fault Karl for wanting to provide a newcomer
    > with
    > > a reasoned explanation for the policy, […]
    > I wasn’t faulting anyone. If you read between the lines, you’ll see
    > that I don’t think there is any a reasoned explanation for the policy,
    > so it is best to give just an explanation of the policy. You might say
    > that a reasoned explanation exists, but it would be just someone’s view
    > on the matter and, more importantly, it would be far longer and far
    > more complex that a newcomer wants or could follow. Remember that most
    > people are very confused about Unicode, even if you don’t consider
    > diacritic marks at all.
    > > Newcomers hate it when we tell them, "That's just the way it is.
    > > Unicode won't change. Deal with it."
    > If that’s the truth, telling it is the best we can do to a newcomer.
    > It’s not a pleasant task to tell such things, of course.
    > In an ideal world you could add “Well, it has a reasoned explanation,
    > but is quite long and complex, and you need to know well the basics of
    > Unicode and a lot about the history of Unicode to understand it. You
    > can find it at…”
    > --
    > Yucca,

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