[sw-l] challenge for programmers

Valerie Sutton sutton at SIGNWRITING.ORG
Wed Jun 22 02:15:39 UTC 2005

SignWriting List
June 21, 2005

> On Jun 21, 2005, at 4:40 PM, Stuart Thiessen wrote:
> A clarification on this: I completely agree that SWML is a valuable
> step to making SW searchable and easily transported. However, SWML
> as such does not handle the display of SW, only the storage.  So
> computer software that reads SWML will have to use some kind of
> display process to make the SW data visual.  This display process
> could use SVG images, PNG images, or a Unicode font to provide the
> displayed images depending on the program.  So, we need to separate
> the roles of SWML and display.  SWML only has to do with storage
> and retrieval of data, but not display.

I see. Thanks for explaining this to me! So when Steve is using SWML
to store data in SignPuddle, he is using PNGs to do the visual
display of what the SWML says should be displayed? I wasn't aware of
this...I am glad to know this...

> Until SW is finally in Unicode, SW is just graphics because that is
> the only display mechanism we have for SW.  The value of SWML is
> that we are now able to search it with a variety of programs. SW-
> DOS by comparison probably could have been equally as searchable
> but because of its binary format, that made it much more difficult
> compared to SWML. But search capability and display capabilities
> are two different "animals".  The value of Unicode is simply this:
> hearing people will probably not fully appreciate SW until it is
> available in Unicode and it is able to be composed just like spoken
> languages (in a manner of speaking). This is simply because it
> takes much less room to store Unicode symbols than it does to store
> graphic images.  The display happens either way, but I'm talking
> here more about "political" respect or the perceived reality of
> SW's status as a genuine writing system.

OK. What about SVG? I remember years ago, Antonio Carlos came to
visit me from Brazil, and was eager to explain both SWML and SVG to
me...I remember feeling amazed at the possibilities when he showed me
a SignWriting symbol being drawn on the web in front of my eyes in
SVG...Now that we see that SWML is really becoming important, I
wonder if SVG isn't next?

That does not mean that I don't think Unicode is a terrific idea...it
is just that Unicode takes money and time, and if PNG display is the
only alternative right now, then maybe SVG could be another
alternative until Unicode is available for SignWriting?

Did you know that the French have interest in developing a way to
apply SignWriting to Unicode? I wonder if Mr. Dalle and Mr. Aznar
from France wouldn't be interested in working with SIL on the Unicode
project? Do you think SIL could be interested?...

> Also, the use of Unicode will not make SWML obsolete.  In fact, I
> think that SWML will be even more useful because instead of having
> special code numbers in the markup, we can actually embed the
> Unicode character for that SW symbol. This will make SWML files
> more compact and more easily read and further enhance its
> usefulness.  But that is a little more down the road until funding
> and resources become available.  Once funding is available, we can
> certainly begin work on it and then just wait on a final submission
> until we feel the IMWA is more stable.

I see. Very interesting, Stuart! You know so much! ;-)

Thanks for your patience with me and all those symbols in the
IMWA!...I actually am not necessarily in favor of placing the whole
IMWA into Unicode. I think we should do a Symbol-Frequency test on
dictionaries to pin down the symbols that you really are using, and
then use the Language-specific symbolset to be the first SignWriting
Unicode...in other words...Unicode US, Unicode NO, etc...based on
only those SignWriting symbols used in one language...why slow down
the Unicode development for SignWriting, just  because DanceWriting
has not been entered into the IMWA yet? And is there really a Unicode
for music sounds? No. So why should DanceWriting be in
Unicode?...Unicode should be for SignWriting specific to one sign

Just a thought. I will leave Unicode development to you and the next

Val ;-)

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