SW and Unicode

Valerie Sutton sutton at SIGNWRITING.ORG
Sun Jun 22 17:12:43 UTC 2003

SignWriting List
June 22, 2003

Below is the text from this web page:


True Type & Unicode Development

Phase 6: TrueType & Unicode Development
The SignWriting Universal Character Set will improve and increase the
exchange of SignWriting data. First, it has to be developed and
approved by the International Organization for Standardization. It then
has to be implemented into the SignWriter Computer Program, which at
present has its own self-contained symbol editor that isolates
SignWriter from being used by other programs.

TrueType and Unicode Development is a complex project involving a
number of substages:

Phase 6.1. Analysis of the character and glyph repertoire Sutton
SignWriting (SSW) provides unique characters for all of the physical
parts of the body used as basic elements in Sign Languages (such as the
head, hands, shoulders, arms, and legs) and specific characters for the
configurations of these (such as facial expression or handshapes). SSW
also provides characters for directional movement of these elements
(such as linear direction and rotation). It also provides glyph
variants of all of these characters in different orientations (such as
a handshape pointing at 45, 90, 135, 180, 225, 270 degrees). Current
SignWriter software offers only a subset of these elements, but the
Generic Symbol Set (GSS) will be developed during this phase, with
initial analysis as to which elements are properly unique characters
and which are modified glyph variants. Deliverable: a glyph repertoire.

Phase 6.2. Provision of TrueType fonts
Concurrent with Phase 6.1, outline-format fonts will be developed for
each required glyph. At present, only bitmap-format symbols are
available hard-coded into the SignWriter software. Currently, the
number of required glyphs is unknown; it is certainly many thousands.
Some of these will require complete design, but many of them (the
glyphs at different orientations of arc) can be generated automatially
once the base glyph is available. Deliverable: a set of TrueType font

Phase 6.3. Analysis of the coding conventions
As text elements, rather than graphic elements, the coding of SSW
characters conformant to Unicode principles of encoding will be
compared with the conventions used in the SignWriter 5.0 program. It is
unknown at this time how close or how far from Unicode coding
conventions the SignWriter coding conventions are. What we do know is
that the configuration of SignWriter 5.0 (Java-based) to handle the
coding of conventions of SignWriter 4.3 (MS-DOS-based) has been complex
and time-consuming. The deliverable for this Phase will be a mapping
table or set of mapping tables from SignWriter 5.0 to Unicode
conventions. Reverse mapping tables will be made available only if
practical (as the goal is to move to Unicode coding).

Phase 6.4. Sign-Symbol-Sequence (SSS)
This Phase will arrange the deliverables of Phases 6.1 and 6.2 in
"alphabetical" order according to the Sign-Symbol-Sequence (SSS)
already defined for the SignWriting subset of the GSS. Analysis may
suggest revision of the SSS since the principles of ISO/IEC 14651
(Algorithms for ordering the UCS) will be respected. Deliverable: a
table of ordered characters assigned to UCS code positions in the
Private Use Area.

Phase 6.5. Unicode implementation
This Phase dovetails with Phase 7, which is the conversion of
SignWriter 5.0 to Unicode-compliant SignWriter 6.0 as an reference
implementation prototype using the Private Use Area characters defined
in Phase 6.4.

Phase 6.6. Formal application for encoding
The character set will be presented to the Unicode Technical Committee
and ISO/IEC JTC1/SC2/WG2 for approval and assignment of UCS code

Part Three:
Programming SignWriter 6.0

Phase 7: Blending Part One With Part Two
The conversion of SignWriter 5.0 to Unicode-compliant SignWriter 6.0.
All of the features of SignWriter 5.0 must be designed to work with
Unicode, and all older documents typed in SignWriter 4.3 or SignWriter
5.0 must convert to the new Unicode character set.
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