Non-standard 8-bit fonts still in use

Marcel Schneider charupdate at
Thu May 5 21:35:59 CDT 2016

On Sat, 30 Apr 2016 13:27:02 -0400, Don Osborn  wrote:

> If the latter be the case, that would seem to have implications
> regarding dissemination of information about Unicode. "If you
> standardize it, they will adopt" certainly holds for industry and
> well-informed user communities (such as in open source software), but
> not necessarily for more localized initiatives. This is not to seek to
> assign blame in any way, but rather to point out what seems to be a
> persistent issue with long term costs in terms of usability of text in
> writing systems as diverse as Bambara, Hausa boko, and Chinese pinyin.

The situation Don describes is challenging the work that is already done and on-going in Mali, with several keyboard layouts at hand. If widening the range is really suitable, one might wish to test a couple of other solutions than already mentioned, that roughly fall into two subsets:

1) Letters on the digits row. Thanks to a kindly shared resource, Iʼm able to tell that over one dozen Windows layouts—mainly French, as used in Mali, but also Lithuanian, Czech, Slovak, and Vietnamese, have the digits in the Shift or AltGr shift states. The latter is the only useful way of mapping letters on digit keys and becomes handy if the Kana toggle is added, either alone or in synergy with the Kana modifier instead of AltGr. With all bracketing characters in group 2 level 1 on the home row and so on, there is enough place to have all characters for Bambara and French directly accessed.

2) Letters through dead keys. This is the ISO/IEC 9995 way of making more characters available in additional groups with dead key group selectors (referred to as remnant modifiers but actually implemented as dead keys). This is also one way SIL/Tavultesoftʼs layouts work for African and notably for Malian languages. IME-based keyboarding software may additionally offer a transparent input experience.

On Mon, 2 May 2016 12:03:58 -0400, Ed Trager  wrote:

> Also with web applications the "software installation" issue is eliminated.
> Remember that while it is easy for technologically savvy folks like members
> of this mailing list to install keyboard drivers on any platform we like,
> this process is somewhat beyond the reach of many people I know, even when
> they are otherwise fairly comfortable using computers. 

I canʼt easily believe that people who are comfortable with computers may have trouble using the widely automatted keyboard layout installation feature, because Iʼve as well experienced myself as got the opportunity to observe on other persons I know, that in fact there is some kind of reluctance based on the belief—call it a myth or an urban legend—that Windows plus preinstalled software plus MS Office come along with everything any user may need until the next update. Though informing about Microsoftʼs help to customize the keyboard is more complicated in that the display is part of the hardware, and the functioning behind has more of a blackbox.

Being actually working on such a project for the fr-FR locale, Iʼve already got some ideas for Bambara. I hope it can soon be on-line.

Kind regards,


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