If no one supported the OLD Old proposal, jumping in to support the NEW Old proposal may not make sense…

by Michael S. Kaplan, published on 2010/04/21 07:01 -04:00, original URI: http://blogs.msdn.com/b/michkap/archive/2010/04/21/9997523.aspx

It is day two of the Text Summit, and I am doing a talk there, with the usual style or lack thereof that I bring to such things. Today's blog has nothing whatsoever to do with what I am presenting about....

Just yesterday I talked about how for Korean You can't get this particular bit of proverbial toothpaste back into the tube.

Just before that, I was asked a question by someone else, via the Contact link, about how to see support for the new jamo in Unicode.

The ones I was talking about "in that blog post."

By which he meant this blog post.

Back in A&P of Sort Keys, part 14: The Hangul is really getting OLD I pointed out a problem-to-be that was waiting in the wings for Microsoft:

And now we get to a slightly less contrived case, namely the various doubled and tripled conjoining Jamo both in Unicode now and the new ones being added (now in Stage 6 of the approval process) that I discuss in Using a character proposal for a 'repertoire fence' extension. They will be in these three subranges in an upcoming version:

So these ones that were constructed now are meant to exist on their own, and you can even see the leading and trailing consonants in the proposal:

HX124 한글 초성 비읍-시옷-티읕

HX335 한글 종성 비읍-시옷-디귿

And in the not-yet-official data for Unicode as:


though the vowel (which would be HANGUL JUNGSEONG YO-A-I) you cannot find there, which would suggest that OpenType has at least one Jamo vowel sequence defined for Old Hangul that neither the existing Unicode standard nor any proposal from Korea lists!


I wonder whose bug that is?

Anyway, back to the point -- would it be easy to add an entry to the table for the new characters that will be added to Unicode based on the proposal any time, assuming that the Jamo exists. Thus all of these new characters can be kept backwards compatible with the old sequence, though it is likely that the order might not be the same between what the Koran proposal suggested vs. what is there now, which means Microsoft gets to decide what order it wants to be compatible with at whatever point these characters are added....

Either with itself or with whatever order the standard suggests.

There ia also a problem for either the OpenType info on Old Hangul or proof that the exhaustive search fo all known Old Hangul combinations is missing one that was on the OpenTtype list all along. But that is an issue for another day. Or to ignore until it all comes up again.

But there is the main issue.

Since Windows 7 officially picked up only Unicode 5.1 data, the bullet has been dodged for now. the (if you will pardon the unfortunate expression) landmine can be left alone for the time being.

Support for these characters isn't in there.

So the final decision on which way Microsoft will go is unknown.

There are four options:

  1. Do nothing;
  2. Make the new Jamo equivalent to the existing pieces of the old one;
  3. Follow the recommendation in the Korean standard that does not make this equivalence;
  4. Do something else entirely.

Now #1 was kind of the solution for Windows 7 obviously, but conceivably it could be the situation for future versions too.

After all it isn't like anyone was supposedly relying on the OLD Old Hangul implementation so why jump in to support the NEW Old Hangul implementation before there is indication that it is going to be needed/wanted?

The answer would not satisfy me personally (for whatever that is worth), but there are more formal metrics that people would use in making product feature decisions. :-)

#2 is the solution I would prefer for a whole host of reasons, up to and including the fact that any existing data (that looks the same if you have the fonts for it) will work the same.

But if work is done then #3 or #4 may have to be what is done (it looks like the current state machine Microsoft uses for Old Hangul can't fit all of the extra Jamo so in order to meet the requirements of the new standard a new solution will have to be written anyway, or at least a re-jiggering of the old solution if that is possible -- when the original dev is the manager of the manager of the people who would do it and the program manager is now in a different division and the yours truly is in whatever place I am).

All of this is trivial compared to the font side of all this, where the solution is easier but the decision on what to do with the OLD support the OpenType definitions for Old Hangul and the many "no longer blessed combinations" will lead to either widespread duplicate appearances of characters that are not equivalent (great for the to-be-registered www.oldhandulspoofing.com web site), or widespread backcompat breaks as all of the formerly working OLD Old Hangul is made to look wrong and not conjoin (a problem somewhat mitigated by the fact that it is so hard to find fonts that use the support!).

I suppose they can also do nothing too -- the burned child fears the fire is that old Irish saying, isn't it? They arguably did the most work on the OLD solution, and it was openly ignored for many years.

To be honest I don't envy either group, as they both have a fairly nasty mess to deal with, no matter what they do. And I never even got into the input method side of all this -- who is gonna create that little (or maybe big) beast? Maybe no one? It will make the problem much easier if everyone holds their hands over their ears and says LA-LA-LA-LA-LA very loud.

And of course everyone should be kept in sync -- the nightmare of good display mixed with strings with no weight (and, to a lesser extent, the vice versa) is truly scary....

The more I think about the more likely I would be to sit in the "do nothing" camp for both (all three?) teams, because if one does have plans to step in a bunch of crap, it really does benefit everyone to see where things are going before one takes those overt steps.

Plus misery loves company -- I think everyone can step together!

But that is just me. And recent circumstances in my life had made me less playfully eager to try new stuff, and thus have probably made me a bit more cautious (a lot less likely to want to either bite the bullet or step on that thing that may be a landmine).

Ultimately someone else (or someones else) will be deciding, maybe or maybe not based on these arguments.

Though obviously they have some time. A bunch of it.

What would you (the reader who read the whole blog all the way to the bottom!) do if it was your decision? Taking all of the issues I mention into account and any others you could think of, what would you do?

J. C1 on 27 Jan 2011 9:19 AM:

My comment on blogs.msdn.com/.../1751301.aspx would be helpful on this issue.

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