Computers & Writing Systems
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SIL International Contributions to UNESCO Initiative B@bel
From January to October of 2003, SIL International was engaged in a cooperative project with UNESCO as part of UNESCO’s "Initiative B@bel" effort. The goal was to enable the development of complex script support in information and communication technologies (ICTs). This was done through preparation of documents to guide development, technical tools for complex script support, and two example script implementations. These items are available from pages specifically prepared for each item — links are below.
UNESCO's Initiative B@bel website lists the results of our collaboration here.
Guidelines for Writing System Support
This document describes the key issues around supporting complex scripts in ICTs. It is intended as a guide to the planning and development of writing system implementations. It introduces a model for writing system implementations, outlines the development process, and highlights keys to project success.
These Guidelines are written primarily for policy makers and professionals, but includes introductory technical material in later sections. This covers important topics regarding encoding, keyboarding and rendering. It gives specific guidance on working with Unicode™, including how to propose new characters for submission.
This document can be found here.
A related document — Resources for Writing Systems Implementation using Copyleft and FLOSS (Free/Libre and Open Source Software) — has also been prepared, but was not part of the UNESCO project.
Intellectual Property Concerns in the Development of Complex Script and Language Resources
The goal of this paper is to highlight some of the intellectual property (IP) issues and problems, and document the areas that specifically would need to be addressed in the development of models for writing system implementation development and distribution.
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A further document gives general information on Font Licensing and Protection Details.
Complex Script Data Exchange Format
This document describes a subset of the XHTML/CSS standard that provides the equivalent functionality to WorldPad's XML format. This will enable WorldPad to function as an editor for documents that can be accessed over the Internet and viewed in a web browser.
This document can be found here.
These software tools are based around SIL’s Graphite technology, and are focused on providing applications to use with complex script smart fonts.
Project SILA — Graphite-Enabled Web Browser
SILA is a version of Mozilla that is capable of rendering text using
A document describing the project and an installer for the application can be downloaded here.
Graphite Edit Control
This is a beta version of a basic Graphite edit control for data input
A document describing the edit control, including links to the various components, can be found here. The original project specification is here.
WorldPad — Graphite-Enabled Text Processor
This is a simple text processor based on SIL’s Graphite rendering technology. It is available for Windows 2000 or XP operating systems, and is capable of exporting data
It can be downloaded here.
Sample Script Implementations
These packages are intended to be examples of complex writing system implementations, and contain:
Two implementations are provided, one for the Myanmar script and a Pan-African one that covers many Roman writing systems used across Africa.
The implementations can be downloaded here.
A list of the people who contributed to the SIL’s work for Project B@bel is available here.
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