Plane 2, the SIP (Supplementary Ideographic Plane), is almost full.
Right off the bat, in Unicode Version 3.1 (March of 2001), Extension B filled it nearly two-thirds of the way with its 42,711 characters, along with 542 CJK Compatibility Ideographs. Extension C with 4,149 characters was added in Version 5.2 (October of 2009), Extension D with a mere 222 characters was added in Version 6.0 (October of 2010), and Extension E with 5,762 characters was added in Version 8.0 (June of 2015). On tap for Unicode Version 10, scheduled for a June of 2017 release, is Extension F that currently includes 7,485 characters (U+2CEB0 through U+2EBEC).
That’s the title of the eleventh episode of the second season of The Simpsons which originally aired in early 1991.
This article will instead be about the history and evolution of the blowfish image that graces the cover of my books that were published by O’Reilly Media. The following is the first paragraph of the Colophon of CJKV Information Processing, Second Edition:
Actually, we do.
As pointed out in Matthew Rechs‘ recent and excellent Typekit Blog article about Unicode’s Adopt a Character campaign, these badges were designed by the very talented Jake Giltsoff of the Typekit team at Adobe. Mine for U+1F421 🐡 BLOWFISH is shown above.
It seems that I am on roll, having released two new open source fonts on GitHub within the past week. The previous—and brief—article that was about the LOCL Test OpenType/CFF font simply pointed to the repository. This article will be longer. I promise.
Inspired by the font that I prepared for and referenced in the previous article, I decided to launch a dedicated open source project for this useful test font, LOCL Test.
Although this article shares its title with an article from four years ago that was about the excitement associated with attending ATypI Hong Kong 2012, this particular one will focus on efforts to properly support Hong Kong SAR (aka HK or Hong Kong) in the Adobe-branded Source Han Sans and Google-branded Noto Sans CJK typeface families, but also in infrastructure, such as OSes and apps.
In other words, this article is not about traveling to Hong Kong, but rather about properly supporting Hong Kong in OSes, apps, and fonts.
A peculiar series of events that took place on April 1st (no joke) and 2nd of this year led to the discovery of what can only be described as somewhat of a revelation: A small number of CJK Compatibility Ideographs are necessary for China. This is important, because I made the following statement on page 168 of CJKV Information Processing, Second Edition:
One of the most powerful font-development tools available today is tx (Type eXchange), which is included in AFDKO (Adobe Font Development Kit for OpenType) and whose sources are available on GitHub. Despite its two-letter name, this command-line utility is packed with an enormous amount of features and functionality.
Four years ago I wrote a similar article, but it seems like a good time to revisit tx and the useful things that it can do. I still recommend that its “-u” and -h” command-line options be used to explore its vast capabilities.
—Humans make mistakes—
—Anything made by humans has the potential to include mistakes—
The most important things about mistakes are that 1) we recognize them, lest they propagate; 2) we learn from them; 3) we make an effort not to repeat them; and 4) we try to fix them, if possible.
Some mistakes are more easily fixed than others. Mistakes that cannot be fixed must be worked around.
With that said, an interesting event of historical significance occurred in June of 2000:
The first version of the IVD (Ideographic Variation Database) was issued on 2007-12-14, meaning over eight years ago, and there have been three subsequent revisions, the latest being issued on 2014-05-16. There are currently three registered IVD collections: Adobe-Japan1, Hanyo-Denshi, and Moji_Joho. A significant number of IVSes are shared between the latter two IVD collections, 9,685 to be exact. While I cannot speak to the latter two IVD collections, the Adobe-Japan1 one is supported by hundreds of OpenType fonts via the Format 14 (Unicode Variation Sequences) ‘cmap‘ subtable. Furthermore, the number of apps and OSes that support UVSes has reached critical mass.
With all that said, there is a rather substantial missing link in terms of IVD support infrastructure: the all-important input method.
The next UTC (Unicode Technical Committee) meeting, the 147th one, takes place during the week of May 9th, and will be hosted at the Adobe headquarters in San José, California. All members of the Unicode Consortium, especially voting members, are encouraged to attend.
Much of the thinking that I did with regard to this unregistered—but hopefully soon-to-be-registered—IVD (Ideographic Variation Database) collection was done while visiting my parents in South Dakota, with one of the highlights of that trip being a scenic drive through Badlands National Park.
First and foremost, please forget, or at least ignore, most everything that was written in the 2016-02-13 and 2016-02-20 articles (which makes one wonder why I am linking to them, but I digress). Far too many things have changed, and what I present in this article represents the IVD collection that I hope will be registered later this year.
Continuing where I left off with the first article about this subject, I’d like to point out some of the implementation details and their ramifications in this article.
One of my longer term goals for the open source Source Han Sans project has been to eventually register a Pan-CJK IVD (Ideographic Variation Database) collection that would allow the regional variants to display and be preserved in “plain text” environments, and I think that I may have achieved a breakthrough the other day.
CJK Unified Ideographs is a very deep and fascinating subject, and there are people who sometimes— and anecdotally—claim that it is a bottomless pit (or infinite tunnel, hence the quote in this article’s title). The latter may appear to be accurate, especially when one considers what is happening on that front, such as Extension F with its 7,485 new characters slated for Unicode Version 10.0 in June of 2017, and with work on Extension G commencing.
Although I am a couple days late, I’d like to use this opportunity to welcome the year of the monkey, and to wish a Chinese New Year to all of my Chinese friends, colleagues, and blog readers. May this year be safe, prosperous, and enjoyable.
One of the fringe benefits of moving offices—especially when one has accumulated nearly 25 years of font-related material and it is thus not a pain-free exercise—is discovering historical documents, some of which turn out to be true gems. Our team is preparing to move from the Adobe East Tower to the West one, and part of the process is figuring which material to keep, and which to put into File 13. Anyway, I had been recently looking for a particular presentation that I prepared many years ago, and was fortunate enough to come across it while sifting through my accumulated materials.
It is with great sadness that I write that Unicode Version 9.0, whose beta was authorized yesterday, on the last day of UTC #146, will include no additional CJK Unified Ideographs. The next opportunity for additional CJK Unified Ideographs is therefore Unicode Version 10.0, which is slated for a June 2017 release, and is expected to include 20 Urgently Needed Characters (UNCs) that are appended to the URO (Unified Repertoire & Ordering), along with Extension F (see IRG N2130 for the latest version) that currently includes 7,485 characters.
Interestingly, and as long as Extension F remains stable, there are only 3,088 code points remaining in Plane 2 (SIP), specifically U+2EBF0 through U+2F7FF, along with 1,502 code points at the end of Plane 2, immediately following CJK Compatibility Ideographs Supplement, specifically U+2FA20 through U+2FFFD.
The image above is an excerpt of a PDF that shows what Unicode Version 10.0 is likely to include in terms of ideographs. If you click on the image, you will get the actual PDF. Of course, the red stuff is tentative and subject to change.
In late 2015, I collaborated with Daisuke MIURA to submit a proposal (L2/15-328) to the UTC (Unicode Technical Committee) to encode the characters for four tally mark systems. The proposal was discussed during UTC #146, and the result was that the five ideographic tally mark characters were accepted. Good news.
The Script Ad Hoc Committee originally recommended in their report for UTC #146 (see page 9 of L2/15-037) that IDEOGRAPHIC TALLY DIGIT TWO not be encoded, because they felt that it could be unified with U+1D36E (COUNTING ROD TENS DIGIT SIX), but concerns over typographic consistency led to it being accepted as a separate character.
In December of 2015, Unicode launched their Adopt a Character campaign, whose goal is to raise funding for the purpose of encoding a large number of remaining scripts, along with encoding additional characters for scripts that are already encoded. In other words, to help Unicode do its important work. The Unicode Consortium has 501(c)(3) tax status, meaning that donations are tax-deductible in the US, and if your company supports matching grants, you can leverage that to significantly increase the effective donation.