Re: Bold & Modest Proposals

From: Mark Leisher (
Date: Wed Jul 16 1997 - 13:27:01 EDT

>> Is a "unirender" standard worth considering?

    Martin> I think it is a bad idea to try to standardize typographic
    Martin> practice, although this has been done in some cases, i.e. in Japan
    Martin> with JIS X 4105, where the main intention was to improve the
    Martin> quality of wordprocessing software.

    Martin> Typography is a creative field that in general only can loose if
    Martin> it gets standardized. What may well be worth is increasing the
    Martin> descriptions of rendering practice as they are currently in the
    Martin> Unicode standard. But this is a lot of work, and needs a lot of
    Martin> expertise.

I heartily agree that standardization of typography is a "bad idea!" I don't
think Jim had that in mind and I don't think that is what is implied by a
"UniRender" standard. A "UniRender" standard would probably consist of a set
of composition rules, algorithms, and minimal glyph sets for certain scripts.
Basically, something that encodes the mechanical aspects of multilingual text
presentation and none of the creative aspects of multilingual text

When was the last time you saw two or more Devanagari fonts from different
vendors with the same set of conjunct shapes? Part of supporting Indic
scripts in the non-commercial world is expecting that no two Indic fonts will
have the same set of glyphs available, so correct shaping/positioning requires
a different mapping table for each font.

With approaches like OpenType to be "appearing at a theater near you" soon, it
would be nice if a standard or consistent set of conventions existed that font
developers can depend on for basic text composition rules and recommended
minimal glyph sets for certain scripts.

What is to be done about it?

I have few expectations that forming a committee to do this sort of thing will
produce anything useful before we all move to Hale-Bopp at the turn of the
millenium, so I think the best route would be for people to write up
descriptions of what they had to do to for correct presentation of a
particular script. For example, "Klingon Text Editing on the TI-99: A few
simple rules!"

So, to avoid looking too hypocritical, eventually I will submit to peer
pressure and actually create Web pages with things like that on them! I
planned to anyway. Sometime before I get senile :-)
Mark Leisher "A designer knows he has achieved perfection
Computing Research Lab not when there is nothing left to add, but
New Mexico State University when there is nothing left to take away."
Box 30001, Dept. 3CRL -- Antoine de Saint-Exup éry
Las Cruces, NM 88003

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