How to create Unicode input methods for MacOS? (long)

From: Sebastian Hagedorn (
Date: Mon Apr 17 2000 - 07:42:02 EDT


I'm relatively new to this list, so I'm not sure whether this might be
considered off-topic. If it is, I apologize.

My father is a professor for papyrology at Heidelberg University (see
<>). He's been writing ancient Greek on
the Mac since 1987. Since there is no official MacOS script for ancient
Greek, a number of incompatible pseudo-standards for encoding it have
emerged, but the one named GreekKeys is probably the most common one. There
are currently various fonts for MacOS that use this encoding.
For the first couple of years my father used system versions that were
actually patched by the SMK GreekKeys people in order to enable entering of
all the accent combinations that are the most tricky part of ancient Greek.
When that company folded we had to find a different way and learned how to
create a KCHR resource for this purpose. This resource my father created is
now used by a number of scholars throughout the world.

We have been aware of Apple's efforts with ATSUI for quite some time, but
until recently there was nothing tangible to show for it. Now there is the
first MacOS application (that I'm aware of) that actually uses ATSUI (Marco
Piovanellis's MLTE Demo, see
<>) and we have
started to play around with it. We do have the requisite fonts and we
actually managed to display a text in ancient Greek that had been entered
in Word 2000 on Windows by opening it in Word 98, saving it as Unicode text
and then opening it in MLTE Demo. That part works quite nicely and is very
promising for the future.

What is sorely missing on the Mac is a comfortable way of entering ancient
Greek as Unicode. Currently there is only a hex based input method that
allws you to enter arbitrary Unicode characters. There already is a Unicode
input method for ancient Greek for Windows... Unfortunately I haven't been
able to find any documentation regarding this on Apple's developer site. I
know a little about programming, so if it's not too complex I would like to
try to create such an input method myself.

It would be perfect if the old, GreekKeys-coded fonts could be used. I
guess that would mean letting the Text Encoding Converter know that they
are used for ancient Greek by adding some resources to the font. However,
that would require a MacOS script for ancient Greek, right?

So in practice it may prove easier to use the existing Unicode fonts
instead. If I understand things correctly it should be possible to create
an input method for ATSUI that does map keyboard entries to the ancient
Greek block of Unicode without having a script for ancient Greek in MacOS.
Am I correct?

One final question: what about MacOS X? Will it use the same input methods
or would we have to create another one for that OS?

Sorry this has been so long, but I wanted to make clear what I'm looking
for. I'd be very grateful for any pointers.

Cheers, Sebastian

Sebastian Hagedorn

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