Re: Major site in unicode?

From: Doug Ewell (
Date: Sat Sep 30 2000 - 12:50:53 EDT

Well, it looks like the list is about to start focusing on Unicode

George Zeigler <> wrote:

> Unicode does not seem to be making inroads on the internet. No major
> site is using unicde or minor sites for that matter. At least that I
> know of.

I'm sure practically everyone on this list can provide lists of Web
sites encoded in UTF-8. But one warning, people -- stay away from
mentioning sites that are *about* Unicode. Telling George that (e.g.)
Unicode's Web site is encoded in Unicode won't be too convincing.

> Russians are used to cp1251 and koi-8. I work in Russia, and our
> programmers were quite adimit, that if a site was only in Unicode,
> they would not use it. No Chinese sites are using unicode. Couldn't
> find any in Japanese or Korean either. European sites are using the
> ISO standard.

Unicode is still an emerging standard. Certainly not everyone has
switched over yet. The same can be said for other standards as well;
there is a lot of HTML 1.0 out there.

I assume that "the ISO standard" refers to ISO/IEC 8859-1 and possibly
8859-2 as well. Unicode is an ISO standard too (ISO/IEC 10646-1).

> Then there was the problem with browsers. I can't remember if it was
> netscape or explorer, but the font True Type was automatically chosen
> if Unicode was chosen. Chinese hyroglyphs show poorly in TrueType.
> They have their own fonts.

First, TrueType is not a single font. The term refers to a font
mechanism or "technology," or to a class of fonts. That said, TrueType
fonts can certainly support Unicode. I have several that do.

The browser you are thinking of is Netscape Navigator (pre-4.7).
Support for Unicode in all browsers is improving steadily, and as it
does, your 'adamant' programmers will end up using Unicode-encoded
sites without even realizing it.

The Chinese/Japanese glyph issue is well known. Many Han/Kanji
ideographs (logographs) are written differently in the Chinese and
Japanese traditions. This is not a question of the font mechanism.
Only by knowing *which language is intended* can the culturally correct
glyphs be selected (if a choice is available). Chinese and Japanese
DBCS standards handle this by supporting *only* their own preferred
glyph variants. This is a kludge, albeit one with a long tradition.

> Unicode seems useful only for those working with ancient or non-major
> languages or for those working with multiple languages in the same
> spreadsheet/document.

The general form of this is "Technology X is not widely implemented yet
among those with relatively common needs, therefore it is not useful at
all to them, only to those with unusual needs." Seen in this light,
the conclusion seems presumptuous and premature in this world of
rapidly advancing technology. Unicode will one day be the dominant
standard for all the applications mentioned, even if it is not today.

-Doug Ewell
 Fullerton, California

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