Friday, January 07, 2011

That Settles That

A picture, as they say, is worth a thousand words.


.

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4 reader comments:

HandyMac said...

As a Mac user for more than 20 years, and a Buddhist nearly twice as long, naturally I'm happy to see HH using what appears to be the same 17" MacBook Pro I have.

I'm also happy to report that with the latest 10.6 version of Mac OS X Apple has finally gotten around to including complete support for the Tibetan script in industry-standard OpenType fonts as well as its own AAT format. Thus the most popular (and high-quality) Tibetan fonts, such as Jomolhari, Tibetan Machine Uni (and other TCC fonts), Microsoft Himalaya, and TCRC's own YoutsoWeb, can now be used on the Mac as well as Windows and Linux, providing full cross-platform interoperability.

Fonts in many styles, from the most formal uchen to very casual umé as well as specialty styles, are now available. More information and links to fonts can be found at bodyig.tibetangeeks.com and digitaltibetan.org among other locations.

TENPA said...

Full Disclosure: As an Apple user since Day One, and as an "Apple Dad" (my son is a Senior Engineer there) I could not have been more pleased to see this photograph.

BTW... the support for Tibetan was a wee slow in coming because they wanted to let the dust settle on font development, not because they were dragging their heels.

There are also some interesting things in the works for the iPad, along the lines of iPecha (!)

HandyMac said...

"...the support for Tibetan was a wee slow in coming because they wanted to let the dust settle on font development, not because they were dragging their heels."

Can you elaborate? I don't have any connection(s) with Apple, and it sure has looked like heel-dragging from here. There have been excellent Tibetan fonts for OS X from xenotypetech.com since at least OS X 10.2 (when I switched from the classic Mac OS, and bought XenoType's Tibetan Kit); but, although OS X had good support for Chinese, Japanese, Devanagari, etc. from that time, Apple waited until 10.5 to provide Tibetan support (long after it was available in Windows and Linux), then apparently licensing Otani University's Tibetan Kit for the classic Mac OS and Unicoding/expanding their (adequate but not inspired) fonts for inclusion with OS X. So far as I know, Apple has never spared a word for XenoType, despite the latter's indispensable support for minority Mac OS users from back in the early classic days.

But the larger problem, of course, has been that even the Tibetan support in 10.5 was only for Apple's own proprietary AAT font format, which is excellent so far as I know, but unfortunately was not adopted by the rest of the computing world, where Microsoft/Adobe's OpenType has become the standard. Thus while one could work in Tibetan in 10.5, only the two Apple fonts could be used (or XenoType's if one bought them), and exchanging documents with Dharma scholars in the Windows or Unix worlds was still very problematical. (For PPC Mac users stuck with 10.5, the Monlam Tibetan fonts now are available also in AAT format.)

The full Tibetan support in 10.6 (at least according to my own informal testing; Apple as usual has said nothing about it) is certainly welcome, but for Dharma scholars a related annoyance remains in that such full support still has not been provided for the Devanagari script in which Sanskrit is usually written. So far as I know, there are no third-party Devanagari fonts in AAT format (XenoType doesn't offer any), thus the only Devanagari font that can be used with OS X is the good but not great DevanagariMT supplied with the OS. There are numerous excellent, comprehensive (including Vedic glyphs, etc.) OpenType Devanagari fonts available, but they can't be used on the Mac. A curious omission for a script used by some 500 million people across northern India. (Nor does OS X include support for the related Bengali script which is second only to Devanagari in importance in Indian culture.) It's true that India is almost entirely in the Windows camp, but so was China before Apple made an effort there; why Apple has ignored South Asia for so long is a mystery to me.

Given that in the interest of cross-platform interoperability (so we're told) Apple has seen fit to afflict Mac users with the primitive DOS-style file name extension system (as John Gruber put it, "the file-to-application binding policy of Windows 3.0"), it would seem to make sense for the same reasons to go ahead and join the OpenType party as well, especially as OpenType, so far as I know, is in no significant way inferior to AAT. With some $50 billion in the bank (last I heard), Apple certainly could spare a few developer-hours to provide this support; thus the best explanation I've been able to come up with for their not bothering to do so would have to be some kind of "heel-dragging", though I don't know why.

iPecha? Sounds like fun. How about iPalmleaves?

HandyMac said...

"...the support for Tibetan was a wee slow in coming because they wanted to let the dust settle on font development, not because they were dragging their heels."

Can you elaborate? I don't have any connection(s) with Apple, and it sure has looked like heel-dragging from here. There have been excellent Tibetan fonts for OS X from xenotypetech.com since at least OS X 10.2 (when I switched from the classic Mac OS, and bought XenoType's Tibetan Kit); but, although OS X had good support for Chinese, Japanese, Devanagari, etc. from that time, Apple waited until 10.5 to provide Tibetan support (long after it was available in Windows and Linux), then apparently licensing Otani University's Tibetan Kit for the classic Mac OS and Unicoding/expanding their (adequate but not inspired) fonts for inclusion with OS X. So far as I know, Apple has never spared a word for XenoType, despite the latter's indispensable support for minority Mac OS users from back in the early classic days.

But the larger problem, of course, has been that even the Tibetan support in 10.5 was only for Apple's own proprietary AAT font format, which is excellent so far as I know, but unfortunately was not adopted by the rest of the computing world, where Microsoft/Adobe's OpenType has become the standard. Thus while one could work in Tibetan in 10.5, only the two Apple fonts could be used (or XenoType's if one bought them), and exchanging documents with Dharma scholars in the Windows or Unix worlds was still very problematical. (For PPC Mac users stuck with 10.5, the Monlam Tibetan fonts now are available also in AAT format.)

The full Tibetan support in 10.6 (at least according to my own informal testing; Apple as usual has said nothing about it) is certainly welcome, but for Dharma scholars a related annoyance remains in that such full support still has not been provided for the Devanagari script in which Sanskrit is usually written. So far as I know, there are no third-party Devanagari fonts in AAT format (XenoType doesn't offer any), thus the only Devanagari font that can be used with OS X is the good but not great DevanagariMT supplied with the OS. There are numerous excellent, comprehensive (including Vedic glyphs, etc.) OpenType Devanagari fonts available, but they can't be used on the Mac. A curious omission for a script used by some 500 million people across northern India. (Nor does OS X include support for the related Bengali script which is second only to Devanagari in importance in Indian culture.) It's true that India is almost entirely in the Windows camp, but so was China before Apple made an effort there; why Apple has ignored South Asia for so long is a mystery to me.

Given that in the interest of cross-platform interoperability (so we're told) Apple has seen fit to afflict Mac users with the primitive DOS-style file name extension system (as John Gruber put it, "the file-to-application binding policy of Windows 3.0"), it would seem to make sense for the same reasons to go ahead and join the OpenType party as well, especially as OpenType, so far as I know, is in no significant way inferior to AAT. With some $50 billion in the bank (last I heard), Apple certainly could spare a few developer-hours to provide this support; thus the best explanation I've been able to come up with for their not bothering to do so would have to be some kind of "heel-dragging", though I don't know why.