[Sw-l] Report from Steve's desk

Stephen E Slevinski Jr slevin at SIGNPUDDLE.NET
Sat Aug 1 14:27:01 UTC 2015

Hi SignWriting list,

I hope everyone enjoyed the symposium this year.  I enjoyed every 
presentation I understood, and even the ones I didn't.  I look forward 
to the English translations.

In the past 3 weeks, I have created 5 presentations.  I was only 
supposed to create 2 for the symposium, but new topics kept coming up 
and I was in the groove.

Please feel free to contact me on the list or privately about any of 
these presentations.

The SignWriting Stack 2015

This is a general overview of the technologies related to SignWriting 
and the best practices for online use and development.

The Use and Structure of SignMaker 2015

SignMaker is an amazing sign editor and dictionary.  SignMaker 
highlights many of the advantages to the Formal SignWriting design. The 
searching possible and the huge sorted dictionaries make me smile.

I have it on my desktop and use it to view/edit whatever Formal 
SignWriting strings I see.  I smiled when I saw Stefan's name sign 
appear in well formed FSW.

For an even deeper analysis of the FSW, I use the sw10js API page. API 
stands for application programming interface.  On the API page, you can 
analyze symbol keys, FSW strings, and query strings.

SignWriting in an ASCII World

This presentation goes in depth into the ASCII markups and definitions.  
It explains the small subset of Regular Expressions that SignWriting 
leverages for definition and searching.

SignWriting data has been stable in Formal SignWriting since January 12, 
2012 in ASCII.  The ASCII implementation is half the size of an 
equivalent Unicode solution.  It is 4 times faster to process ASCII than 
the equivalent Unicode.

What about Unicode? (Part 1)

Issues with SignWriting in Unicode 8

I haven't seriously considered Unicode since 2011.  We have different 
ideas.  The history of the Unicode 8 proposal and a detailed analysis 
can be found in this presentation.

I was fortunate to be able to attend a Unicode Technical Committee just 
this past week.  It was a group of about a dozen experts in script 
encoding, linguistics, and character encoding.  Everyone introduced 
themselves by their name and then the company, such as MicroSoft, Apple, 
Google, IBM, Adobe, ...

I was proud to introduce myself as Steve Slevinski, Center for Sutton 
Movement Writing.  Val made this trip possible.  Thanks Val.

I was informed that there are at least 2 people working on SignWriting: 
one at MicroSoft and one at Google.  They will be using the tools I've 
provided to implement their solution.  They don't know how to do it, so 
they were interested in my work and grateful for the information I have 

Over 2 days, I was able to present 4 different times.  I used the above 
slideshow twice on the first day.  We argued and discussed and I earned 
their respect.

I was able to explain my issues with SignWriting in Unicode 8.  They now 
agree that the Unicode 8 proposal is insufficient and has serious issues.

What about Unicode? (Part 2)

Thanks to the UTC

After the first day, I rushed back to the hotel and prepared a second 
slideshow.  It's much shorter, but there are several powerful slide that 
silenced and room and one person exclaimed.  "Wow. That's huge." (slide 
6).  This slide was the turning point.

Now there is another Unicode expert who is interested in working on 
SignWriting.  They asked that I provide several examples in my various 
formats: PNG image, Formal SignWriting, PUA Plane 15, and PUA Plane 
16.   They admitted that we do things with SignWriting that they can not 
do with Unicode.  I told them that we are in production; we can write 
every sign language and any facial expression today.

They agreed to seriously consider my proposals.  Because we have such a 
large set of data, they agreed to the idea of 1) being able to convert 
from FSW to a future Unicode design and 2) being able to convert back to 
FSW from the future Unicode design.

Full speed ahead with Formal SignWriting.  3 1/2 years of stability and 
forward compatibility with Unicode 9, 10, 11 or whenever we have a 
workable Unicode solution.

So the Unicode process has been successfully rebooted.  Unicode 8 is 
fine to use for prototyping, and this is what the big corporations 
needed to begin using SignWriting, but Unicode 8 for SignWriting needs 
major revisions and additional work.  They could simply adopt my work, 
but they are uncomfortable with freeform 2-dimensional creation of signs.

We who use SignWriting are playing the long game.  We still have first 
generation writers.  Imagine the written sign language world when we 
have several generations with the tradition of writing!

I plan to write a more detailed blog for Gerard about the future of sign 
language Wikipedia projects and how Unicode fits into the design.

Now I'm going on a weeks vacation.




Valerie Sutton
SignWriting List moderator
sutton at signwriting.org

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