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NRSI Update #6 – August 1997

NRSI staff, 1997-08-01

In this update:

NRSI member to attend Eleventh International Unicode Conference

by Bob Hallissy

I will be traveling to San Jose, California to attend the “Eleventh International Unicode Conference and Global Computing Showcase” September 1 - 5, 1997. The theme for this year’s Conference is “Software Development+ the Internet: Going Global with Unicode”.

The Conference will bring together industry-wide experts on the global Internet and Unicode, internationalization and localization, implementation of Unicode in operating systems and applications, fonts, text layout, and multilingual computing.

For more information about the Unicode conference, see For more information about Unicode see

Update on SDF-based Rendering System

by Timm Erickson

Included in Shoebox for Windows beta version 3.07 (another test version is expected in September 1997) will be a new version of the SDF-based Rendering Engine, as well as a new non-Roman Script development tool, the SDF Editor.(For a brief description of the SDF-based Rendering System, see “Introducing the SDF-based Rendering Engine”, NRSI Update #4.) Anyone interested in helping test SDF in Shoebox should contact Karen Buseman.

Render 2.03

In addition to the original features supporting cursive-script, ligatures and right-to-left text in ShoeBox (no localized version of Windows required), the latest version of the SDF-based Rendering Engine includes some new capabilities.

It now gives users the ability to specify special forms of a character/ligature that occur in word-initial, word-final and word-by-itself contexts, as well as a way to create forms that depend on a specific environment constraint. Fairly complex script behavior can now be described without large sets of extended ligatures.

Script Description File Editor 1.0

This new program allows editing of Script Description Files (SDFs) in a WYSIWYG, point-and-click environment with extensive online help. The goal of the interface design was to make Non-Roman Script Rendering customization and experimentation accessible to novice users, so that field linguists could test out their own ideas in orthography and come up with workable non-Roman script solutions for themselves.

All features of the SDF-based Rendering Engine 2.03 are easily accessible and laid out in an intuitive way. (One possible exception is environment constraints, which are not recommended for the novice user anyway.)

SDFE also allows the user to test the Script Description File without leaving the editor. With a single mouse click or keystroke, the user can see how the changes made affect the rendering of specified text in the script. Alternatively, the program allows batch-style rendering of a text file or of particular lines of a Shoebox database or other SFM-like file.

The online documentation includes an introduction to SDF-based Rendering, practical step-by-step discussion of implementing behavior for various types of scripts (cursive, Indic, syllabary, Hebrew/Greek), a section on troubleshooting, and help with the commands and features of the program.

Unfortunately, though the Rendering Engine can run on a variety of platforms, this editor has been tested so far only on Windows 95. It may not run as expected on Windows 3.1 or Windows NT.

Announcing SIL Hebrew Font System

by Joan Wardell

The SIL Hebrew Font System is now available for use outside of Translator’s Workplace. This comprehensive system to support entering, displaying, and printing biblical Hebrew texts is fashioned after the square letter forms of the Biblia Hebraica Stuttgartensia (BHS), a beautiful Old Testament volume familiar to many Hebrew scholars. These are publication quality fonts.

The SIL Translation Department requested this font system be developed to provide an SIL-wide standard for encoding Hebrew text, in order to avoid the multiple font and encoding confusion that had plagued text exchange.

Features include Hebrew transliteration fonts, full support of vowels and cantillation marks. Soon to be released are GX fonts for use in applications such as Uniqorn and TeXgX, and a WorldScript module for use in ShoeBox for Mac.

Available as:

  • Windows version 0.5 (not all keyboard files are available yet)
  • Macintosh version 1.0
  • GX version 0.9 (in testing, available soon)
  • WorldScript version 0.9 (in testing, available soon)

Further information and the full package are available here, or by contacting Contact Form. Articles will also be submitted to NOC and NOAM.

Status of SIL Greek Font System

by Peter Martin

Having read the description of the SIL Hebrew Font System, you may wonder whether there is also an SIL Greek Font System, and whether it is ready for distribution.

Victor Gaultney has completed the design of a similarly comprehensive set of Greek fonts for Windows and the Mac OS (including WorldScript and GX). All that remains is the provision of keyboard definitions and CC tables (being prepared outside of the NRSI). Since Victor is currently on secondment/PD, the packaging and release of the complete set is planned for January.

The SIL FontFinder

by Fred West

The FontFinder originally started life as a database of information and sources for non-Roman fonts. However, the database soon became impractical because what was really needed was to be able to easily locate the fonts at their sources. The information was transferred to an HTML document which allowed IPub User Support to quickly access the font download sites. Late in 1996 it was decided to place the FontFinder on the SIL Web site so that fields with Internet access could use it directly.

The document now contains over 270 sources of non-Roman fonts representing 48 languages as well as over 60 sources of Roman and miscellaneous fonts. It is located at The document is updated monthly and your input as to new sources of fonts would be very much appreciated. Please send information or suggestions to Contact Form.

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