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Unicode Transition Tutorial Links

Lorna A. Priest, 2009-02-17

Because of special character needs, SIL teams have long used custom encoded fonts. This was often the only solution and worked fairly well until newer software began "breaking" our solutions. Unicode obviates the need for most custom encoded fonts. The tutorials in this section were developed for helping people in their transition to Unicode. You will find tools for helping you figure out what the Unicode encoding should be, tutorials and tools for actually converting legacy encoded documents to Unicode encoded documents and tutorials to help you with keyboarding issues. The numbers in parentheses below refer to the folder names used in the Tutorials directory (part of Setting up your computer).

Contents of this webpage:

Helpful Utilities

SIL ViewGlyph: Introductory walkthrough notes Bob Hallissy, 2003-03-03
These are notes for showing how to use the SIL ViewGlyph utility. The SIL ViewGlyph utility is a font browser — it lets you see what is in a font.

Unibook: Introductory Walkthrough Bob Hallissy, 2003-03-03
This is a short walkthrough on using the Unibook Character browser. The Unibook Character browser is a small utility for offline viewing of the character charts and character properties for The Unicode Standard.

Unicode Character Properties Excel and LibreOffice Calc spreadsheet Peter Constable, Bob Hallissy, and Bobby de Vos, 2022-10-04
Various files from the Unicode Character Database compiled into a spreadsheet (Excel and LibreOffice Calc) workbook.

 UnicodeChecker — UnicodeChecker for Mac OS X is an application that displays information for every code point from the Unicode Standard 5.0.

 UniView — UniView is an HTML-based application for working with Unicode characters. You can look up or find characters (using graphics or fonts) and related information, view whole character blocks or custom ranges, select characters to paste into your document, paste in and discover unknown characters, search for characters using regular expressions, do hex/dec/ncr conversions, highlight character types, etc. etc. It supports Unicode 8.0 and is written with Web Standards to work on a variety of browsers.

Encoding Conversion


Several pages you might find helpful as you go through this process are: How do I encode...? and Symbols in Phonetic Symbol Guide 2nd edn. in relation to Unicode 5.1.

  • Setting up your computer There are a number of applications you need to have installed on your computer in order to follow the tutorials. These instructions will take you through the complete process.
  • (1/2) Intro and Encoding Forms The object of this tutorial is to introduce you to the tools we'll be using for conversion of data encoded in legacy fonts to Unicode. We'll use a trivial example to see an overview of the steps in the process.
  • TECkit is a toolkit for encoding conversions. It offers a simple format for describing the mapping between legacy 8-bit encodings and Unicode, and a set of utilities based on such descriptions for converting text between 8-bit and Unicode encodings. TECkit supports both Windows and Mac OS platforms. Two different "languages" can be used for writing TECkit mapping tables. These tutorials use the "TECkit mapping language" rather than the "XML mapping language".
    • (3) TECkit mapping language conversion The object of this tutorial is to go through the process of creating and using a conversion mapping in the TECkit mapping language. The SIL IPA93 legacy font will be used in this example. The example files are worked using the TECkit language approach.

  • (5a/5b) Structured data conversion (SFM and Word) Although character encoding conversion is key to transitioning to Unicode, there is also a vital need to convert structured data. SIL has a proprietary format called "standard format markers" (SFM), and it is possible (and even probable) that sfms in a single document have different character encodings. These must be converted with different mapping files to one encoding (Unicode).
  •  Shoebox to XML (SIL:Shoe) — The laying out and typesetting of interlinear text is one of the more problematic aspects of linguistics. This program is designed to aid with that task by automating the process of converting interlinear text, held in Shoebox, into RTF for inclusion in a Word document. There are actually two programs as part of this system. The first converts the interlinear text into an intermediate form of standard format and the second is an enhanced Shoebox Standard Format to RTF converter. A short tutorial is included in the documentation.

Keyboarding Tutorials

  • (6) Keyboard Installation and Use In this overview we give details of how to use Microsoft and Keyman keyboards. Microsoft keyboards are probably preferable to use if you wish to input text in one of the languages for which they have supplied a keyboard. If you need a keyboard for some other language, or you do not like Microsoft's layout, you may want to use a keyboard manager like SIL's Keyman
  • . Keyman allows you to create your own customized keyboard, or if you choose, you may use a Keyman keyboard someone else has created.
  • (7) Converting Keyman 3.2 keyboards to Keyman 6 Getting your old Keyman 3.2 keyboards to work in Keyman5 or 6 is not difficult. There are just a few modifications needed, as discussed in the tutorial. Whether you should convert your keyboards so that they can be used in Windows 2000 and higher is a question that should also be considered. It may be better to encourage users to move to new Unicode keyboards, rather than continue producing texts which must be converted.
  • (8) Keyman 5/6 Tutorial We will be creating a keyboard which will allow us to type IPA text. Our goal will be to learn how to develop a Keyman keyboard, not to create a complete keyboard. In this tutorial we are going to begin creating a mnemonic keyboard for IPA.

Smart Font Tutorials

Microsoft VOLT UI Overview Paul Nelson, 2001-09-02
This document is to provide an overview and understanding of the VOLT menus and UI.

Microsoft VOLT Tutorial (VOLT – Visual OpenType Layout Tool) Paul Nelson, 2001-09-02
VOLT is Microsoft’s tool for adding OpenType tables to fonts. It provides a graphical UI that enables a person to visualize what is going to happen with the substitutions and positioning lookups when they are created. VOLT also includes a proofing tool that permits the functionality of the font to be tested without having to install the font in the system.

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