2335Re: Inputting the newer unicode characters
- Sep 4, 2007Hi Eze,
For my Unicode editing needs, I try to survey the field once or twice
It's been a while since I last looked, so my information is probably
out of date.
I can't keep up with all the Unicode-editing options.
My Unicode-editing needs are somewhat unusual. I occasionally need to
type Arabic script, and I definitely need Unicode combining
supplementary characters. I insist on being able to write my own
and I'd like a solution that works in OS X, Linux and perhaps even
I haven't found a perfect solution yet for my needs.
On the Mac, which I use most often, TextEdit (supplied with OS X) does a
much better than average job of _rendering_ the Unicode characters
type. It has a built-in set of default fonts that so far have
anything that I've wanted to type, including Shavian and Deseret.
diacritics are (to the extent that I've tested them) handled
rather well--this is a weak point in many other allegedly Unicode-
However, if you are used to a full-featured text editor like vim
or emacs, then TextEdit hardly seems like a text editor at all. Too
commands and overall functionality. I'm glad that TextEdit is
but I use it reluctantly.
TextEdit can use Apple Input Methods, many of which are supplied, and
you can (with some difficulty) define your own so that you can type in
Arabic, Cyrillic, Greek, Shavian, Deseret or whatever using your own
keyboard mapping or input method. I'm a firm believer that you ought to
be able to define your own personal input methods (or keyboard-layout
so that you can do it Your Way, even if dozens of input methods
are already available. There are (or were) some bugs in the
interpretation of Apple
Input Methods, and fixing them seems to be very low priority at
Apple. I need
to recheck the status.
I need to take another look at the commercial text editors available
for OS X.
I also work a lot with Unicode in XML, and I have purchased a license
for the oXygen
XML editor. oXygen is Java-based and so can use Java Input Methods,
are much better documented and easier to define than Apple Input
oXygen can also be used to edit plain-text Unicode files. It renders
to the extent that Java Swing text widgets render Unicode, which is
well. Installing new Unicode TrueType/OpenType fonts inside your Java
installation, to allow the rendering of exotic characters, can be a
for the casual user.
In addition to the commercial oXygen, there are a few other Java-based
text editors that you might explore. I need to look at them again.
such editors are based on Java Swing text widgets, can use TrueType or
OpenType fonts, and Java Input Methods. You can define your own Java
Input Methods, but it'll be hard if you're not a hacker. The freely
and kmap_ime_gui.jar are Java-Input-Method wrappers that allow you to
use input methods expressed as Yudit-style .kmap files as if they were
Java Input Methods. (Yudit .kmap files are very similar in format
to the vim keymap files.)
The Yudit editor is notable for its flexible handling of fonts,
rendering Unicode, and
allowing you to define your own input methods easily, but like
TextEdit it hardly seems
like a text editor at all to someone used to emacs or vim.
Traditionally I've used emacs, but emacs does not use Unicode
instead providing what I find to be an awkward and very incomplete
mapping between its internal MULE-encoded internal representation and
Unicode files on input/output. In practice, the set of input methods
available for emacs is MULE-based and closed. emacs has seriously
feet on Unicode implementation.
When it comes to Unicode implementation, vim is (in my opinion) much
promising than emacs. Vim seems to do an excellent internal job of
and writing Unicode. Vim keymaps, for typing in Unicode chars, are
easy to define or modify, and they fit my needs perfectly. The
(from my point of view) with vim are these
1. Failure to render Unicode characters from the supplementary area
edit a screen full of question marks)
2. The limitation to fixed-width fonts (A profound nuisance/
on Linux can use variable-width fonts, but it still works much better
On Linux, consider Java-based solutions such as oXygen. In Gnome
gedit, but (the last time I looked) the definition and addition of
methods for gedit was poorly documented and required some background
hacking. I managed it once, but it's not acceptably easy or acceptably
documented, in my opinion.
I'm not acquainted with KDE (the alternative to Gnome in Linux). Is
out there acquainted with the kedit editor?
I'm not acquainted with Microsoft/PC solutions.
I need to look at OpenOffice solutions.
Corrections/Comments/Suggestions would be Very Welcome
I don't have an axe to grind--I just need to edit Unicode (including
Cyrillic, Supplementary Characters, Combining Diacritics) and I
being able to write my own input methods. I'd like a solution (with
methods) that works across multiple operating systems. I'd like to use
TrueType/OpenType fonts, without a fixed-width limitation, and be
use virtual fonts that combine glyphs from a set of user-designated real
fonts. And I want a full-featured user-interface like that in vim or
I would welcome pointers to other Unicode-editing solutions that I
may have overlooked.
On 31 Aug 2007, at 15:48, Eze wrote:
> Thanks a lot to you both for your insights. Ken, if I may ask, what
> exactly do you use to see/work with/input unicode characters? All
> information will be appreciated, such as linux distribution, desktop
> manager, text editor, etcetera.
> Best regards,
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