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[WMASTERS] IIT-Madras Multilingual software library


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At http://tulip.ee.ndsu.nodak.edu/~rkk/text/softwarelib.html, I found some
description of IIT-Madras software library that handles Tamil characters
with 16 bit encoding!

Some excerpts from the page:

The issue relating to the choice of character codes was resolved early. The
character coding used in the IITM system is a wide code consisting of 16
bits uniformly for all the characters. There are major advantages to this
choice though one might question the wisdom of this arbitrary scheme when
other world standards have come to stay. The main argument in favour of this
approach is that it
avoids the need for a state machine at the level of the application, either
during data entry or while displaying or printing the characters. It can be
a real challenge to write language or character-set dependent state machines
within application programs. The IIT Madras system relieves the programmer
of this difficult, if not impossible, job.

Another important aspect of the system is the flexibility provided in
specifying the shapes of the characters. The library of functions is based
on the principle of one character, one code as opposed to multibyte
represenations used while forming characters using glyphs or ligatures. The
16 bit representation chosen here not only identifies the character set but
also points to the rule(s) to be followed in
generating the character. These rules can be changed dynamically allowing
different representations for the same character. Above everything, the
rules can be specified by the user in a flexible way. This is what brings
power to the system by allowing scaling, transformations and the application
of brush patterns while drawing the characters, all on the fly.

Going by the principle "encode the rules for drawing the characters into the
software", one totally avoids the use of fonts, and thereby all the
complications in dealing with them. This was specifically emphasized during
the inital design of the system when it was found that most of the fonts in
use were proprietary (certainly for Indian languages) and users could not
simply take a font and use the same
in their applications.

The IIT Madras system has an excellent graphics editor for designing
character shapes though it is not part of the API or the library. Users can
design their own character shapes and incorporate them into the system.

- Mani M. Manivannan
Fremont, CA, USA


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