Dochula Pass, Bhutan

Picture of the page in action.

About the tool: Pickers allow you to quickly create phrases in a script by clicking on Unicode characters arranged in a way that aids their identification. Pickers are likely to be most useful if you don’t know a script well enough to use the native keyboard. The arrangement of characters also makes it much more useable than a regular character map utility

Latest changes: This is the first version 9 picker. Changes introduced in version 9 include moving the buttons that allow you to display different views to just below the page title. Also, in version 8 pickers, there was an icon in the phonic view that allowed you to dump to the output the phonetic transcription that builds up while selecting characters. This has been replaced with a button just below the output field. There were a number of other superficial changes.

A significant addition to the Malayalam picker is the ability to convert Malayalam text into a Latin transliteration, based on ISO 15919. There was already a way to convert Latin transliterations to Malayalam script.

This version also continues to allow you to type in chillu characters as either single characters as included in Unicode v5.1, or as a sequence of consonant+virama+zwj. Additions to the Malayalam repertoire added in v5.2 have not yet been added to the picker.

>> Use it

I just received email from Derek Reid in the XMetal team at JustSystems to say that they have significantly improved the way the XMetal XML editor uses xml:lang attributes in the source code in conjunction with its spell-checker.

Basically, XMetal will switch spell-checking dictionaries based on the xml:lang settings in the markup. It also supports xml:lang=”” and xml:lang=”zxx” for places you don’t want to spell-check. It even does this when using interactive red squiggles to highlight potential misspellings.

I wrote a blog post about this in 2007, when the capability was only partially developed. Derek says:

I read this post when you first wrote it, and after getting feedback from a large number of our clients I was finally able to convince our development and management teams to properly support language auto-switching for spell checking in conjunction with xml:lang attribute values in our product.

We made a big effort to deal with these limitations during the past year and our XMetaL Author Enterprise 6.0 release addresses most or all of them.

If you are interested, I have posted instructions on how to configure XMetaL Author Enterprise 6.0 to properly support this feature:,539.msg1701

I haven’t had a chance to try it out yet, but it sounds exciting. Now how about DreamWeaver…

>> Use it

Picture of the page in action.

About the tool: BCP 47 language tags are built from subtags in the IANA Subtag Registry. This tool helps you find or look up subtags and check for errors in language tags. It also provides information to guide your choices.

Latest changes: I reworked the informational text that accompanies macrolanguages, their encompassed languages, and extlang subtags. As part of that, I changed the code to allow for highlighting of specific cases. For example, where legacy may dictate that the macrolanguage subtag (zh) is more useful for Mandarin Chinese than the more specific tags (cmn or zh-cmn).

I simplified the intro to the page, but added a link to the new article Choosing a Language Tag, which provides useful step-by-step guidelines on creating language tags.

I also changed the user interface somewhat. The input fields are easier to work with and take up less vertical space. Also, you can now submit a query by simply hitting return after typing into a field. I had originally required you to click on a submit button so that all values in other fields would be retained when the answer is shown – this was so that while checking various subtags you could build up a language tag in the Check field for later checking. I just found that the annoyance of continually having to resubmit after forgetting to click on the submit button wasn’t worth the extra functionality (and I was also encouraged to do so by feedback from Bert Bos).

>> See what it can do

>> Use it

Picture of a part of the page.

It took me a while to find the time, but I have finally upgraded UniView to suport the final 5.2 release of Unicode, plus a few extra features.

The order of blocks listed in the top left pulldown menu was changed to ressemble the order in the Unicode Charts page. Several sub-block selections were also added to the list (as in the Unicode page), and are displayed in italics.

When you display details of a character in the right panel, the heading Script group has now been used to indicate the sub-block-level headings in the block listings of the Unicode Standard. The link to the Unicode block now follows the heading Unicode block. These sub-block-level headings are also shown when you display a range as a list (as opposed to a matrix).

When you mouse over characters displayed in a matrix, the codepoint and name information for that character now appear just above the matrix. This makes it much easier to locate characters you are looking for.

Finally, but by no means least, small and large graphics are now available for all 1071 Egyptian Hieroglyph characters. This was the last block for which graphics were completely unavailable.