Tool Tests: January 2012 Archives

Unicode 3Play - Yammer, Google Earth, iBooks Author

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I was so excited to get some time to test new tools that I tested three for basic Unicode support. My updates:

Yammer - Pass

Yammer is a service similar to Twitter but with more tools suitable to a corporate environment. I posted some text with obscure phonetic characters and some Devanagari, and results were generally good.

This was done on a Mac via the Web site interface and via the desktop client using. It seemed low fuss enough that I suspect support is good in most configurations. Note that third party clients are always an unknown. For instance, although Twitter also has excellent Twitter support some of the third party viewers was pretty bad.

iBooks Author - Pass

Most apps from Apple have good Unicode support and this is no different. My only concern here is font control. It looks like you can define new styles based on pre-existing formatted text, but can't really edit existing one.

One non-Unicode gripe is that some styles had small caps and I was not able to disable that. It may not be a show stopper in most docs, but not all scripts include small caps (or even distinguish capital/lower case).

I gather that the format generated is a form of XML (per Alan Quarterman) with HTML features and CSS....but the CSS is hard to directly edit. Whenever you leave the Western alphabet with few controls over font presentation, it's time to be nervous.

Google Earth - Pass, but slightly Tempermental

For the record, I am in love with Google Earth as a teaching tool. However, entering data was tricky.

The keyboard methods seem to work fine to enter text for items such as new locations, and so forth. However I had problems with using the Character Viewer (OS X 10.7). I would double click the symbol and nothing would happen ;(. Then again, it could be the new Character Viewer although it seems to be OK with Yammer.

In any case, this could be an issue if a user is trying to use a cute emoji symbol. Cut and paste from another document did appear to work.

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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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