Romanized Singhala got great reception in Sri Lanka

Marc Durdin marc at
Sun Mar 16 16:09:42 CDT 2014

To me the real question is, what are the roadblocks that the other people at this forum saw in using Unicode?  I'm not talking about the proponents of non-Unicode solutions, but those who would otherwise be agnostic given the right support.  And what can we do to address those concerns?

(1) Rendering support still lags -- if the characters don't render properly in Unicode but they do in HackAscii, then HackAscii wins.  Does any operating system renderer today support all the complex scripts in Unicode 6?  How many users need to upgrade their OS in order to get access to a working renderer?  What about mobile operating systems?

(2) Fonts are much harder to create.  Instead of just needing a graphic designer to draw characters, you now need to a programmer as well, who understands OpenType tables.  This is especially a problem for the very popular decorative fonts, which are created by graphic design houses with little interest in the finer nuances of shaping rules.  Again, HackAscii wins.

(3) Many of the Unicode input methods have been hard for end users to adapt to.  I've pushed Unicode in this space for nearly 20 years, but even today, I continue run up against points (1) and (2) with language partners.  HackAscii has slightly less of an advantage here, because you still tend to need some intelligence in your keyboard layout for most HackAscii solutions.

Of course these are solvable.   But when a HackAscii proponent can demonstrate an easier solution, then the slightly more subtle advantages of Unicode tend to be lost in the simple fact that for /my language/, HackAscii "just works".  It's hard to argue the advantages of Unicode when you cannot show a working solution.   And arguing the disadvantages of HackAscii is pointless until you can demonstrate the alternative working to the user's satisfaction.


-----Original Message-----
From: Unicode [mailto:unicode-bounces at] On Behalf Of Doug Ewell
Sent: Monday, 17 March 2014 7:30 AM
To: unicode at
Cc: Jean-François Colson
Subject: Re: Romanized Singhala got great reception in Sri Lanka

Jean-François Colson <jf at colson dot eu> wrote:

>> The idea was that characters not on an ordinary QWERTY keyboard could 
>> be entered using an ordinary QWERTY keyboard.
> That’s the raison-d’être of the Compose key available on most Linux/ 
> Unix computers:

>> If that idea were implemented today
> It is! But neither on Windows nor on MacOS.

There are plenty of dead-key keyboard layouts available for Windows and Mac computers. The sequences are different from using a Compose key, but the principle is the same.

As Jean-François observed, the keyboard layout wasn't really the OP's point.

Doug Ewell | Thornton, CO, USA | @DougEwell ­ 

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