Submit Hint Search The Forums LinksStatsPollsHeadlinesRSS
14,000 hints and counting!

Some info on Unicode and multilingual Macs System
Have you been having problems getting your Unicode text to display properly in editors and webpages? So have I, and there is very little practical Unicode information online for OS X, despite OS X "fully supporting Unicode." It turns out that although the OS does, in fact, support Unicode fully, very few applications have yet made the grade.

Out of a maze of technicalities, I have managed to understand the following: Cocoa apps are much more likely to support Unicode "fully" than Carbon apps, and your default OS X Unicode keyboard may not be the best choice.

This boils down to what are apparently called the "composed Unicode" (using a single code point to display one character, regardless of complexity) and "decomposed Unicode" (using two code points to display a character with an accent, one for the vowel, one for the accent) forms of Unicode. Cocoa apps will display both, and so will Safari. No other browser I've used so far will, including OmniWeb, which is strange, since it uses the same base as Safari. Carbon apps, and most browsers, will only cope with "composed" Unicode. What did my default OS X Unicode Vietnamese keyboard input? DEcomposed Unicode. I'd been struggling for months to input something that most applications couldn't display.

After all these months of trying, and searching for applications with full Unicode support, I finally found out about the code points, and managed to find a disk image of three composed Unicode keyboards for Vietnamese on this site.

If you have similar problems, look for additional keyboards that will input composed Unicode, also known as Unicode Normalization Form C. You also want Unicode fonts, and there aren't many available yet. Lucida Grande on OS X will display your text, but if you want to use any other font, you need to tell your readers, and either make it available for download on your page, or link to the download. Your language community may have produced its own Unicode fonts, like these excellent Vietnamese ones.

There's some good practical info on using Unicode on the Multilingual Mac page, including a converter from decomposed to composed Unicode, and you probably can't go too far wrong with Cocoa applications. However, if you want people to be able to read your webpage, stick to composed Unicode: UNFC.

From Clytie, learning her new keyboard layout, which is confusingly reversed from her former one, by retyping _all_ her material...
  • Currently 1.00 / 5
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
  (1 vote cast)

Some info on Unicode and multilingual Macs | 6 comments | Create New Account
Click here to return to the 'Some info on Unicode and multilingual Macs' hint
The following comments are owned by whoever posted them. This site is not responsible for what they say.
Authored by: mansour on Sep 21, '04 12:37:26PM


[ Reply to This | # ]
Authored by: bpfh on Sep 21, '04 04:41:33PM

Well, thät wäs a smärt cömment, yes?

To clytie:

I agree wholeheartedly with you as regards the wavering i18n support in OS X, particularly as regards the available documentation.

Even though I am not faced with anything as challenging as Vietnamese (my locale is still within the scope of ISO-8859-15), I have had extreme challenges in setting up my iBook keyboard to work like $DEITY intended, which, for my particular values of $DEITY, happens to be a mix of old Sun and PC keyboards.

Setting up a personalised keymap was fairly painless (there are a number of resources that tell you how), and in the end I found my keys in the right place, but combinations like Command - Option - whatever generate a disheartening beep. Command and Option individually work sweet.

I've resolved the issue by Not Giving a Damn. After all, there are usually menu options that give the exact same result.

But I would love Apple to provide a decent set of instructions on how to customise the keyboard layout beyond getting the Euro symbol working, without sacrificing functionality. Or it could be that I am just a bit daft, and my mind is poisoned by the flexibility and simplicity of xmodmap and Xkb.


[ Reply to This | # ]
Authored by: luhmann on Sep 23, '04 10:42:11AM

Have you tried <a href="">Ukelele</a>?

[ Reply to This | # ]
Some info on Unicode and multilingual Macs
Authored by: _merlin on Sep 22, '04 08:31:42AM

The Vietnamese keyboard layout wouldn't be so bad if it input fully decomposed characters, but it doesn't. It inputs partially composed character, which is why software chokes on it. Use UnicodeChecker or similar to see what I mean.

[ Reply to This | # ]
Some info on Unicode and multilingual Macs
Authored by: kps on Sep 27, '04 04:15:01PM
retyping _all_ her material...

Unicode Checker provides a Service to convert between Unicode normalization forms.

[ Reply to This | # ]

Some info on Unicode and multilingual Macs
Authored by: Frungi on Apr 06, '06 10:50:23AM
Don't even try to use MS Office Unicode support is nonexistent.

[ Reply to This | # ]