Tales from the Archives

Alan Wood via Unicode unicode at unicode.org
Sun Aug 19 10:01:28 CDT 2018

I think you have answered your own question: nearly everything works "out-of-the-box".
Unicode is just there, and most computer users have probably never heard of it.  I routinely produce web pages with English, French, Russian and Chinese text and a few symbols, and don't even think whether other people can see everything displayed properly.

Long ago, the response to the question "Why can't I see character x" was often to install a copy of the Code2000 font and send the fee ($10 ?) to James Kass by airmail.

These days, Windows 10 can display all of the major living languages (and I expect Macs can too, but I can't afford one now that I have retired).

Some of the frequent posters have probably passed away, while others (like me) have got older, and slowed down and/or developed new interests.

Best regards

Alan Wood
http://www.alanwood.net (Unicode, special characters, pesticide names) 

    On Sunday, 19 August 2018, 03:05:41 GMT+1, James Kass via Unicode <unicode at unicode.org> wrote:  

Back in 2000, William Overington asked about ligation for Latin and
mentioned something about preserving older texts digitally.  John
Cowan replied with some information about ZWJ/ZWNJ and I offered a
link to a Unicode-based font, Junicode, which had (at that time)
coverage for archaic letters already encoded, and which used the PUA
for unencoded ligatures.

At that time, OpenType support was primitive and not generally
available.  If I'm not mistaken, the word "ligation" for typographic
ligature forming had not yet been coined. IIRC John Hudson borrowed
the medical word some time after that particular Unicode e-mail
thread.  (One poster in that thread called it "ligaturing".)

Peter Constable replied and explained clearly how ligation was
expected to work for Latin in Unicode.  John Cowan posted again and
augmented the information which Peter Constable had provided.  The
information from Peter and John was instructional and helpful and
furthered the education of at least one neophyte.

Back then, display issues were on everyone's mind.  Many questions
about display issues were posted to this list.  Unicode provided some
novel methods of encoding complex scripts, such as for Indic, but
those methods didn't actually work anywhere in the real world, so
users stuck to the "ASCII-hack" fonts that actually did work.

When questions about display issues and other technical aspects of
Unicode were posted, experts from everywhere quickly responded with
helpful pointers and explanations.

Eighteen years pass, display issues have mostly gone away, nearly
everything works "out-of-the-box", and list traffic has dropped
dramatically.  Today's questions are usually either highly technical
or emoji-related.

Recent threads related to emoji included some questions and issues
which remain unanswered in spite of the fact that there are list
members who know the answers.

This gives the impression that the Unicode public list has become
passé.  That's almost as sad as looking down the archive posts, seeing
the names of the posters, and remembering colleagues who no longer

So I'm wondering what changed, but I don't expect an answer.

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