Unicode organization is still anti-Serbian and anti-Macedonian

Крушевљанин Perka at muchomail.com
Sun Feb 16 05:33:56 CST 2014

O-kay, I got several on-list and off-list messages, so I'll compile some replies here. I receive this mailing list in daily digest, so please excuse my style of replying/commenting. Please read this compilation minutely and don't take everything as insult.

People, I am perfectly aware of their existance and capable to use fonts like:
- from Microsoft (Windows Vista and above): Calibri, Cambria, Candara, Consolas (please make upper part (macron) of italic 'т' longer, it looks stupid now), Constantia, Corbel, Sitka (Gabriola has the potential)
- from Adobe: Arno Pro, Baskerville Cyrillic, Excelsior LT, Garamond Premier Pro, Helvetica Inserat, Minion Pro, Myriad (currently misses Serbian 'б'), Times Ten, Warnock Pro (Sava Pro also fits for this purpose)
- DejaVu family (Sans, Serif, Mono)
- GNU FreeFont family (Sans, Serif, Mono)
- Ubuntu family (Ubuntu, Mono)
- other useful fonts: Gentium Plus (SIL Graphite technology), EB Garamond.

Linux Libertine/Liberation/Biolinum family currently have severe issues and/or missing glyphs. And, font developers: please forgive me if I missed some good font for Serbian/Macedonian purposes!

I would like Microsoft to alter and provide Serbian/Macedonian support to following old (but unfortunately still used as default in many modern programs) fonts: Arial, Comic Sans (please provide Serbian 'б' and fix italic 'т') Courier New (please provide Serbian 'б'), Georgia, Impact (please provide Serbian 'б'), Tahoma (please provide Serbian 'б'), Times New Roman, Verdana (please provide Serbian 'б')

Adobe, Microsoft and others: please also note that, to cover both languages, in OpenType fonts you need to place both locale tags, language SRB and language MKD. (SRB for Serbian, MKD for Macedonian.) Macedonian cyrillic incorporates бгдпт from Serbian cyrillic, plus they have separate character 'ѓ' and italic glyph for that character rarely looks correct (GNU FreeSerif and EB Garamond have it best).

What is interesting, I know next to nothing about Apple. (Probably because Macintosh computers are expensive as hell.) I have read something about AAT technology, but what about their fonts? Are there Serbian/Macedonian glyphs? I saw one old screenshot of some Serbian Wikipedia page viewed from MacOS (and Safari?, I don't know exact details) but I didn't see proper glyphs.

* * *

Unicode problems that small countries (like Serbia and Macedonia) have are SEVERE, they can not be called "a mere font issue". Please do not insult my intelligence quotient. This is because Serbian/Macedonian language and our cyrillic script is not used on south Balkan only. People from all around the world communicate, and we all have different operating systems, software, fonts...

When folks from America, Germany, Russia, China, Japan... exchange mail, documents, textual informations on Wikipedia (even on Wikipedia informations are not always and everywhere tagged) with folks in Serbia and Macedonia, they all encounter problems — they get Russian cyrillic instead of Serbian/Macedonian.

People, do you realize that proper glyphs are needed everywhere and every time, CONSTANTLY, even when American ordinary user chats with German ordinary user about Serbian language, on different OS-es, textual e-mail/chat clients, GUI (Graphical User Interface) forms... We must NOT rely on OpenType and similar technologies for this! Serbia and Macedonia became "second-class citizens", systematically discriminated in computer world! That's why I want Unicode to finally fulfill this requirement. To make Serbia and Macedonia "first-class citizens"! And you can not use "Private User Areas", that's not reliable. Please read further discusion below with employee from Microsoft.

And note that Serbian/Macedonian cyrillic is not just "preferable", this is not appropriate term. The correct glyphs are REQUIRED — we can not accept Russian glyphs. Especially when in Russian small italic 'п' and 'т' looks *exactly* like latin 'n' and 'm'! That's nonsense for Serbian/Macedonian users (because we also use latin).

Furthermore, Serbian small 'б' is visually better than Russian counterpart. Sure this is my personal opinion, and I say it because Russian version looks to digit 6, Serbian doesn't (or, at least, at very low size)! So, Serbian small 'б' can enter the Unicode as authentic Serbian letter. It resembles Greek gamma, but it's not exactly the same — the pronunciation is different and upper part of glyph design must be slightly altered, and result would be fine.

(And all Serbian glyphs are visually better than Russian. Yes, I claim it. Russian "curvature" italic 'г', for example, is *extremely ugly* for me. Serbian "i-macron" style is better. And longer part of cursive/handwritten 'д' always goes below, like latin 'g' in some designs, not above.)

* * *

Technologies like OpenType, SIL Graphite and AAT are good. People want stylistic alternate shapes, ornaments etc. But these technologies can not replace Unicode. Unicode comes first and it obviously shows that this organization must do internal, system-level support for Serbian/Macedonian issues.

>From disappointing and incapable company called Microsoft, heh heh, one employee asked me to further clarify implementation and system-level OpenType support. Well, I'm not C/C++ programmer (man, I wish I were!), but for non-compliant software can't you somehow intercept all textual communication and replace Russian glyphs with Serbian? It is crucially important to apply this behaviour on all Windows GUI forms (native API, .Net framework etc.), system-wide. And why only in Internet Explorer 11 (currently via CSS 3, can't you force this in settings?), and Office 2010 and above (Word only? Why not Excel, Access... man, we need it EVERYWHERE). Please continue reading the following.

Mozzila Firefox has great support for resolving Serbian/Macedonian issues. OpenType locale is supported, correct rendering when you have HTML attribute like lang="sr" and, for example, you can entirely disable page author's choice of fonts, for any writing script Firefox supports. To compensate for bad or incomplete support, I use that powerful feature all the time, and I wish other manufacturers like Google, Opera etc. do the same in their products. (Just implement the same as Firefox did, but then again, it's not almighty feature.)

LibreOffice also does nice job, but currently under GNU/Linux only. (I talked to one developer from Red Hat Software I believe, and the problem is shaping/rendering engine they currently use for MS Windows — they should change it and adopt better one like Pango, HarfBuzz...)

It must be said that GNU/Linux in general, stands much better than MS Windows in this regard. (If I recall correctly, in Ubuntu from the very beggining/instalation you can have OpenType locale support.) So, Microsoft, start modelling your OT support like the one from GNU/Linux, make good programming library and abandon old useless stuff. Can DirectWrite help in this regard?

So, I would like that EVERY piece of software has great OpenType/Graphite/AAT support like Firefox and GNU/Linux, but unfortunately, we are still far away from that "nirvana". (Conclusion: We are far away because of Unicode organization and Microsoft, in the first place.)

* * *

About the further support with accents. I was asked to provide "a reference" for 42 combinations I mentioned. (The biggest reference is that I'm Serb, heh heh, and I have modern local scientific books for proper spelling.)

In Serbian (and Macedonian can not be much different in this regard) there are 5 vowels (а, е, и, о, у) and in some linguistic cases 'р' can be considered as vowel (all of these characters are cyrillic, not latin). So, that's 6 of them.
In Serbian there are usually 4 accents, but for *full professional* linguistic purposes, 7 of them (grave, double grave, acute, breve, inverted breve, circumflex and macron).

I inform you that I used MS Keyboard Layout Creator v1.4 and I created excellent keyboard layout for me, but *most* fonts nowadays, even from Microsoft and Adobe, show their ugly behaviour in this regard. I think DejaVu family stands on firm ground here, Gentium Plus too, and I also heard SIL Doulos font has been created with professional linguistics is mind...

So, mathematics is: 6 × 7 = 42 combinations of *cyrillic* accented letters. Hmmm, that's for small, do we need capital versions as well? Yikes, that makes 84 glyphs! Still, the best option is to have them precomposed, don't you agree, my friends?
Font developers, please make *perfect* support with combining diacritics, and, just to be sure, draw these 84 characters precomposed now, mark them eventually as (Serbian) accented cyrillic, make excellent kerning, and I would buy such precious font (with Serbian бгдпт, of course). Who knows, you then might be of interest to scientific institutions, government... and not just Serbian ones.

* * *

You know what? I'm not that young and incompetent computer user. I've been struggling with these notorious issues for more than 15 years. It just happened to express my rage now. Before posting this, I surely took some time and read previous related conversations on this mailing list, and a lot of related things beside. I know perfectly well what (you say that) Unicode is and is not. It is easy for you latin-oriented nations (USA, Germany...) to ignore the rest of the world, especially third-world countries. You are powerful, others are weak. You have big software companies like Microsoft and Adobe, others don't. Your latin scripts are perfected, others have to battle with their own. You have fancy OpenType effects, others don't even deserve the basic support. It is easy for you to make only Russian-compatible fonts, and you do it practically always, because the market is considerably bigger than market of south Balkan. Who cares about their real-world problems... But all of this is simply NOT FAIR.

My final conclusion: Until Serbian and Macedonian people get required/proper glyphs and required accented letters, all this SYSTEMATICALLY packaged in Unicode and operating system level ("first-class citizens"), not just on "popular software", Unicode will still be anti-Serbian and anti-Macedonian organization. Whole Unicode standard will be faulty and Unicode organization *politically aggressive* to small, "incompetent", "ugly" countries like Serbia and Macedonia.

Best regards from Крушевљанин Иван (that's one resentful and provocative computer user from Krusevac town in Serbia)

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