5.0409 Help with Unicode and ISO10646? (1/47)

Elaine Brennan & Allen Renear (EDITORS@BROWNVM.BITNET)
Thu, 24 Oct 1991 21:05:31 EDT

Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 5, No. 0409. Thursday, 24 Oct 1991.

Date: Tue, 22 Oct 91 13:48:04 PDT
From: "John J Hughes" <XB.J24@STANFORD.BITNET>
SUBJECT: Unicode and ISO 10646

John Baima's and Harry Gaylord's recent HUMANIST notes about ISO 10646
and Unicode raise some interesting questions, which in my case arise
from ignorance about ISO 10646 and Unicode.

(1) Do either ISO 10646 or Unicode provide support for or some protocol
for distinguishing between left-to-right and right-to-left scripts?

(2) How do ISO 10646 and Unicode specify that compound characters be
coded? For example, does ISO 10646 or Unicode support floating
diacritics? That is, does either standard specify that compound
characters (letter+diacritic[s]) be coded as two or more parts, for
example, "e/" for "e" with acute accent. Or do both (or either)
standards specify that each compound character be represented by a
single character or a single numerical value, just as "e" with acute is
ASCII 130 in the extended-ASCII scheme? If the latter is the case, then
languages like Hebrew (when written with accents as well as vowels) will
be a nightmare, since there are over 8,000 unique consonant+vowel+accent
combinations in Hebrew.

(3) Do either ISO 10646 or Unicode provide support for variable width
characters (e.g., "m" is wider than "i")?

(4) Do either ISO 10646 or Unicode provide support for combining
variable width characters with diacritics so that the positioning of the
diacritic is relative to the width of the character.

(5) Generally, for those of us not familiar with ISO 10646 and Unicode,
how will these standards affect future operating systems and
applications in ways that are beneficial to persons involved in
multilingual word processing and related tasks? How specifically do you
envision them making our tasks easier.

(6) Finally, I have no quibbles with John Baima's unhappiness about DOS.
However, I fail to see how Unicode, ISO 10646, Windows, Type 1 fonts,
TrueType fonts, or ATM will solve the problem I described earlier on
HUMANIST about printer drivers, changes to printer ROMs, and resulting
incompatibilities between existing drivers and upgraded/enhanced/changed
versions of printers. As long as printer companies put different ROMs in
x-number of versions of the same name and model of a printer,
someone--application designer or OS engineer or the printer
manufacturer--has to take account of these changes and modify the
printer driver(s) accordingly.


John J. Hughes