And if you don't speak fluent "square box Traditional Chinese"...

by Michael S. Kaplan, published on 2010/03/17 07:01 -04:00, original URI:

Over in the Suggestion Box, Bruce Rusk asked:


Here's the deal: I'm loving the new IMEs installed with the East Asian language packs for Office 2007 (running under XP Pro). They are a significant improvement over past offerings.

The Chinese (Traditional) New Phonetic IME in particular is wonderful for me because it includes the whole CJK range, including Extensions A and B (well, presumably those characters within that range for which the Unicode database has Mandarin readings, at least using phonetic input).

There is a significant issue in how the IME displays characters for selection. After including CJK Extensions A & B (in the properties dialog, under General -> Character set), the whole range is available to input -- I think. See, what happens, so far as I can tell, is this: the IME candidate window shows basic CJK characters in black, Extension A characters in green, and Extension B characters in red. But on my system at least, the green characters show up only as those nasty character-not-found boxes. The Extension B ones appear quite nicely (so there's a bunch of black characters and a bunch of red ones, with the green boxes in the middle).

I've checked and do have fonts that support both ranges, but a different set for each and none that covers both fully. I've also noticed that, while the older version of MingLiu supplied with XP does not have the Extension A characters, the newer version that comes with Vista does--could that be what the IME is looking for?

Any ideas about what might be going on?

Might almost remind you of Can't I pick the candidate list font if I don't speak fluent square box? if you squint just right at it, huh? :-)

But this is a very different issue.

Unfortunately, there is no documented/supported (and no undocumented/unsupported) way I know of to change the font that the IMEs would use, and there is no way I know of to get the advanced GDI font linking and Uniscribe font fallback support to make enhancements in Extension A and Extension B (respectively) work better.

So on XP, there is no way to get this working right.

Though if you are running Vista, Server 2008, Windows 7, or Server 2008 R2, everything should work well here. But that upgrade is something of a required step, sorry! :-(

Mihai on 18 Mar 2010 2:51 PM:

Messing up with HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows NT\CurrentVersion\FontLink\SystemLink might fix the GDI linking, but it is undocumented/unsupported. And I did not test it to see if it really works for the IME.

Michael S. Kaplan on 18 Mar 2010 4:20 PM:

GDI's ability to help with Extension B is limited here....though its would help with Extension A!

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