Originally, I wrote this message to a list of people who
don't understand SignWriting, but do understand Unicode and Font
I'm happy to announce that an official proposal for the
symbols of the ISWA 2010 may be a reality sooner rather than later.
Unofficially, the proposal for the symbols as plain text has already
been finalized through the Center for Sutton Movement Writing. The
Unicode characters are a small but important aspect to the ISWA 2010
standard. Some of the character names may change a little, and
additional specifications for the ISWA 2010 will be cataloged.
the symbols, there is a standard data format for the SignPuddle data and
several potentials encoding models based on general ideas and researched
theory. Fortunately, we'll all be able to use the same symbols not
matter how we encode the details above plain text.
For the SignPuddle
data, I know we need better editors. I'm hoping that Open Office becomes
a reality through SIL's Graphite sometime this year. Imagine using
SignWriting in a spreadsheet and having it sort properly. Cut and paste with
the SignPuddle data will be a reality. I am one step away from a font file,
then we can try a custom Graphite viewer and printer. It will be based
on SVG. It is greatly needed for text and book presentation. Rather than the
current editors, publication is the real bottleneck.
shouldn't be that hard to restart, although perfecting a smooth typing system
will take time to develop and master.
Many ideas for text editors will
be tried, all using the same symbols. Different encoding families will
use the same symbols, but with different founding philosophies, so that a
conversion between the data will be required. Below I try to explain my
encoding family and ask for your reaction.
Imagine if you will that Valerie created a
hotpress catalog of symbol glyphs: 37,811 of them. You can imagine each
as a physical block of metal. The history of hotpress is very
interesting for Asian scripts. Thousands upon thousands of tiny blocks of
metal organized by topic and size. Each publishing house had a unique
and prized collection of slugs. This attitude continues with font files
and technologies. There are amazing craftsmen who do amazing things with
In the western world, a much smaller set of hotpress characters
created the printing press and mass communication.
chunks are physically bound, they can not overlap. Recent advances in
font technology have enabled glyphs that morph and can overlap. There
are several competing visions for how font technology should work on the
computer. It's often platform specific. I believe True Type is
very different that Open Type. So it is a real concern how the Unicode
specification and the font features are implemented on a wide variety of
platforms and devices.
Interesting article here:http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hot_metal_typesetting
live in a different world.
Cold type is based on the precise placement
of potentially overlapping images. Historically, some publication houses
used cold type technology. Images were optically displayed and captured
by film negative. SignWriting has roots in the cold type family.
Amazingly, Valerie has already passed through the printing press
stage. Wax symbols were dipped in ink and individually placed on a
master sheet for copying. The painstaking work continued for some
time. It was never mechanized and dropped out of favor. One
Wikipedian confused the wax & ink printing with handwriting. He
foolishly dismissed the writing system as too slow to be practical because he
I have continued that vision with the catalog of
symbols that Valerie created. It was a unintended continuation, but my
work has many historical precedents. I take this as proof that we are
writing grammatically correct. Grammar can not be imposed, but must be
created by a group of people over time and discovered after the
With a cold type mentality, I allow the writer to become the
fontographer. We agree that I will not change the general size and shape
of the symbols and that I'll remember the precise placement of each
symbol. The writer has the choice to create something new using
Valerie's symbols or can use something previously written by themselves or
another human being.
When the writer has made their choice, I consider
it rude to fiddle with the appearance. Suggestions can be offered based
on previous writings, but nothing should be forced.
This is the writer
taking part in the design and perfection of the visual representation. I
respect the writer and Valerie's cold type vision.
SignWriting's cold type technique, several rules were made and one truth was
1) Each symbol has a general restriction for size and shape
2) Symbols do not change size individually
3) Symbols do not rotate
I found out that given a cluster of symbols, I can always determine
the correct visual center. No matter what symbols the writer used.
No matter where the writer placed the symbols. A simple algorithm could
find the center. Very important for sign text layout.
vision has shaped the existing SignPuddle data.
I hope some of you
share the same vision.