font-encoded hacks

Andrew Cunningham at
Fri Oct 7 16:22:16 CDT 2016

Hi Denis,

In some ways, it was easier. But looking at each language, the issues seem
to be have a slightly different slant.

Sgaw Karen is interesting in comparison to Burmese. There is some use of
the hacked Zwekabin font by bloggers, but most content, and key media still
use 8 bit fonts. Although little use of Unicode.

The lack of uptake of Unicode fonts seems to lie in the fact that the
default rendering for most Myanmar script fonts is Burmese. If Sgaw Karen,
etc are supported it is via locl features. If a Sgaw Karen user is using
the font in software when they can't control the necessary opentype
features, or don't know they can and need to .... you will eventually get a
perception that their language isn't supported.

There are font developers among the Burmese,  Mon, Shan ethnic groups
developing Unicode fonts tailored for there needs.

Burmese situation is quite different. A topic that I have discussed often
with Burmese colleagues. I have my theories. But the current resurgence of
Zawgyi very much depends on the ability of mobile devices to render Myanmar
Unicode, and the choices telcos and handset manufacturers make regarding
system fonts.

Regarding keyboards, it is interesting comparing Khmer and Burmese. Uptake
of Unicode was earlier and quicker for Khmer. When Khmer keyboards were
developed, the Khmer developers chose to live with the severe limitations
of system level input frameworks. It is only this year that I have started
to see truly innovative research into what a Khmer input system should be.

Burmese Unicode developers on the other hand were never satisfied with
those limitations, and various developers looked into alternatives.


On 7 Oct 2016 17:42, "Denis Jacquerye" <moyogo at> wrote:
> In may case people resort to these hacks because it is an easier short
term solution. All they have to do is use a specific font. They don't have
to switch or find and install a keyboard layout and they don't have to
upgrade to an OS that supports their script with Unicode properly. Because
of these sort term solutions it's hard for a switch to Unicode to gain
proper momentum. Unfortunately, not everybody sees the long term benefit,
or often they see it but cannot do it practically.
> Too often Unicode compliant fonts or keyboard layouts have been lacking
or at least have taken much longer to be implemented.
> One could wonder if a technical group for keyboards layouts would help
this process.
> On Fri, Oct 7, 2016, 07:12 Martin J. Dürst <duerst at> wrote:
>> Hello Andrew,
>> On 2016/10/07 11:11, Andrew Cunningham wrote:
>> > Considering the mess that adhoc fonts create. What is the best way
>> That's very clear: Use Unicode.
>> > Zwekabin, Mon, Zawgyi, and Zawgyi-Tai and their ilk?
>> >
>> > Most governemt translations I am seeing in Australia for Burmese are in
>> > Zawgyi, while most of the Sgaw Karen tramslations are routinely in
>> > 8-bit fonts.
>> Why don't you tell the Australian government?
>> Regards,   Martin.
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