Fight the Future? (#4 of ??), aka Unicode 5.1 Unleashed!

by Michael S. Kaplan, published on 2008/04/05 10:01 -04:00, original URI:

Content of Michael Kaplan's personal blog not approved by Microsoft (see disclaimer)!
Regular readers should keep in mind that all I said in The End? still applies; the allusion to the X-Files continues for people who understand such references....

Here is the text that was heard round the world:

The Unicode Consortium is pleased to announce the release of Unicode 5.1. This release contains over 100,000 characters, and provides significant additions and improvements that extend text processing for software worldwide. Some of the key features are: increased security in data exchange, significant character additions for Indic and South East Asian scripts, expanded identifier specifications for Indic and Arabic scripts, improvements in the processing of Tamil and other Indic scripts, linebreaking conformance relaxation for HTML and other protocols, strengthened normalization stability, new case pair stability, plus others given below.

The Version 5.1.0 data files and documentation are final and posted on the Unicode site. In addition to updated existing files, implementers will find new test data files (for example, for  linebreaking) and new XML data files that encapsulate all of the Unicode character properties. For details, see the page for Unicode 5.1.0 at

A major feature of Unicode 5.1.0 is the enabling of ideographic variation sequences. These sequences allow standardized representation of glyphic variants needed for Japanese, Chinese, and Korean text. The first registered collection, from Adobe Systems, is now available at

Unicode 5.1 contains significant changes to properties and behaviorial specifications. Several important property definitions were extended, improving linebreaking for Polish and Portuguese hyphenation. The Unicode Text Segmentation Algorithms, covering sentences, words, and characters, were greatly enhanced to improve the processing of Tamil and other Indic languages. The Unicode Normalization Algorithm now defines stabilized strings and provides guidelines for buffering. Standardized named sequences are added for Lithuanian, and provisional named sequences for Tamil.

Unicode 5.1.0 adds 1,624 newly encoded characters. These additions include characters required for Malayalam and Myanmar and important individual characters such as Latin capital sharp s for German. Version 5.1 extends support for languages in Africa, India, Indonesia, Myanmar, and Vietnam, with the addition of the Cham, Lepcha, Ol Chiki, Rejang, Saurashtra, Sundanese, and Vai scripts. Scholarly support includes important editorial punctuation marks, as well as the Carian, Lycian, and Lydian scripts, and the Phaistos disc symbols. Other new symbol sets include dominoes, Mahjong, dictionary punctuation marks, and math additions. This latest version of the Unicode Standard has exactly the same character assignments as ISO/IEC 10646:2003 plus Amendments 1 through 4.

The Unicode Collation Algorithm (UCA), the core standard for sorting all text, is also being updated at the same time (see The major changes in UCA  include coverage of all Unicode 5.1 characters, tightened conformance for canonical equivalence, clearer definitions of internationalized search and matching, specifications of parameters for customizing collation, and definitions of collation folding. There are also important clarifications on the use of contractions (such as "ch" in Slovak) in collation.

The next version of the Unicode locale project (CLDR) is also being prepared on the basis of Unicode 5.1, and is now open for public data submission (see

I have some thoughts on many of the new things in 5.1, some or all of which I may get to, eventually....

(I do not plan to take judicial notice of how they waited until Friday to release!)



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