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Re: [WMASTERS] Can we please develop a standard?


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Dear Bala:
>I too eagerly await Dr Kalyan's latest status report on it. 
> Kalyan - I believe we should be able to meet the 2 month target that 
>we set when we started this initiative, yes?

As Mani has pointed out, we are nearly done with our discussions
on the glyph choices and specific code assignments for the chosen
glyphs. Muthu wanted to put up details of his sorting algorithm
with the codes so that people can be assured that the proposed
glyph sequence can work. Muthu probably as anxious as anyone 
else to round up the discussions and finalise the encoding scheme. 
We all know that for last two weeks he has been away from his base.
We should be a bit considerate and give him some time to catch up. 

Prof. Hart raised some reservations on 8-bit schemes with
the problems we all face using standard email packages such
as Eudora on Mac. I wanted to see if things can be fixed on 
Eudora so that the email exchanges on two of the most common
PC platforms (Windows and Mac) can be guaranteed using
these standard packages. So I myself spent recently nearly 
two weeks fiddling around Eudora running on Mac sending 
many many tamil messages back and forth to myself using 
the unix mail server of our institute.
I did manage to find some Eudora Plug-ins that allow tamil 
messages to come and go smoothly on Mac. So Mac users
like Prof. Hart and Kannan can now read tamil.net tamil 
messages using Eudora without problems. My tests have shown 
that both Inaimathi/Anjal of Muthu and also TamilNet font of IRDU,
Singapore work nicely on Eudora/Mac. No problems to worry.
All these efforts were to convince every participant (including
ourselves) that the proposed 8-bit scheme is practical from
immediate implementation point of view.

The proposed scheme is an evolutionary product of our
experiences with popular 8-bit font cited above but with added
features that the scheme allows saving of tamil text files in 
unicode format if one chooses to do so. Myself and Muthu
feel that this is an important point to consider if the proposed
8-bit scheme/font is to happily co-exist with evolving Unicode
and pave way for smooth transition to Unicode oneday.
Now that there is general consensus on the 8-bit scheme,
we can go ahead and finalise the mapping table that gives
correspondance of the present glyph scheme to unicode
character encoding scheme 2.0.

Very recently I requested and got copies of some of the standards
from one of the standards-setting institutions (European Computer 
Manufacturers Agency ECMA located at nearly Geneva).
But all documents I got are for 8-bit encoding standards
modelled on 8859-X schemes (schemes where the slots
128-159 are not used). Our current scheme on the floor (1.4)
is modelled more on ANSI and Macintosh Character sets
that use also these slots. I am not a computer professional to
engage alone writing a technical document to these computer
standardisation agencies. We have to work closely to come up
with the first draft standard. We could then circulate it amongst 
professionals in the ring such as Mani, Nagu and others
willing to participate in the documentation preparation process.

I just want to recall that, exactly a month ago (on 1 Sept 97) I
re-launched the encoding proposals to two mailing lists. In this
short period of one month we had many fruitful exchanges and
rapidly converge on a font encoding scheme. So please hold your
breath for some more time. Probably in another couple of
weeks we can have a final draft standard and an associated  
tamil font ready to go for field testing !

We are aware that many of us are fed up with the mess in
the arena of tamil computing and would like to have a standard
established as soon as possible. But we should not rush things.
All comments, criticisms and suggestions must be given due 
consideration. No one should feel that some vested interests are
pushing through things rapidly. Also all of us engaged in this 
standardisation exercise are purely volunteers with full time 
committment to other things. (In my enthusiasm to finalise the
tamil computing standards as soon as possible, I have already 
side-lined many official projects!)  In many direct correspondances 
myself and Muthu wish  that a day consists of at least 36 hours
 so that we can round up a few more things before going to bed.


PS: I used the term "we" repeatedly in this email implicating Muthu
but I am sure he will agree with most of what I have stated earlier.


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