ELIZABETH J PYATT: July 2007 Archives

ISO-639-3 Language Code Changes

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In a post about Cantonese Language tags, I mentioned ISO-639-3 language codes. This is a new series of codes developed by the linguistic organization SIL which attempts to cover a broader spectrum of languages than had been named in previous registries.

Although I recommend these codes for anyone working with linguistic information, it should be noted that they are being revised. The latest set of changes are announced on the ISO-639-3 home page. You should check these pages out when determining which codes to use.

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Safari 3: More Unicode Notes

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COMBINING ACCENTS (Improved)

The good news is that Safari 3 is handling combining accents better (these are Unicode characters which are placed on adjecent letters).

I didn't want to let this improvement pass unoticed!

VERTICAL TEXT (Not really)

The tb: rl CSS attribute used for vertical text in Internet Explorer is still not working. Then again it's not working in Firefox either. In other words, few browsers are supporting vertical text.

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Safari 3 For Unicoders

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In addition to the iPhone, Apple recently released a Beta of Safari 3 for BOTH Mac and Windows. Either version can be downloaded from www.apple.com/safari/ .

There were some Unicode glitches in Safari 2, and some got fixed in Safari 3, but others are the same.

FONT APPEARENCE (Improved on Windows)

It's the same on the Mac side as in Safari 2 (quite acceptable), but I think Windows users will notice a significant improvement in font presentation especially if they are still on Windows XP.

An improvement in anti-aliasing in Safari 3 means fonts will appear crisper/cleaner in general than either Firefox or even Internet Explorer 7. No matter what script you're using, I believe this is generally a good thing.

ARABIC TEST (Windows dicey, Mac OK)

I am not an expert in the Arabic script, but results suggest that the Windows Safari does not render all the joinings correctly, but the Mac Safari does do an acceptable job. I checked the Arabic on Safari for Windows vs IE for Windows and noticed some differences in letter forms.

I suspect the culprit is that Safari may be relying a bit on Mac AAT font technology which does not exist on Windows.

TAMIL TEST (failed on both)

One of the major failings of Safari and other Mac browsers was the inability to process vowel signs on scripts from South India (e.g. Tamil). The vowel marks would appear, but not be placed correctlly.

Alas, this problem still persists...even on the Windows side. The South Asian vowel sign problem does not appear to be fixed.

FONT CONTROL (Not enough for Windows)

The font control options in Safari 2/3 are restricted to just Western European languages. On the Mac, this means that you will default to some system font (usually Lucida Grande) if it's available. Ugly but readable.

On the Windows side, the lack of font control means you COULD have the right font available, but Safari 3 WON'T be able to find it.

For instance, I tested a Syriac page in Safari 3 (Win) and IE 7 (Win). IE 7 correctly implemented the Syriac font (Estrangelo Edessa), but Safari 3 (Win) missed it completely and gave me just a bunch of boxes.

Safari does implement CSS...so in theory, a developer could specify the Windows fonts for Syriac text, but what a pain.

NOTE: Safari 3 (Mac) DID find my third party Syriac font.

CONCLUSION

If you're browsing main-stream languages (English, Spanish, Russian, Hebrew, Hindi, Central European), then Safari seems to function well and has crisper fonts to boot.

But for the exotic languages, results will vary, especially on the Windows platform.

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About The Blog

I am a Penn State technology specialist with a degree in linguistics and have maintained the Penn State Computing with Accents page since 2000.

See Elizabeth Pyatt's Homepage (ejp10@psu.edu) for a profile.

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