Graphical Authoring Update 1.

Subject: Graphical Authoring Update 1.
From: "Mark Emson" <mt -dot- emson -at- ntlworld -dot- com>
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Fri, 23 Feb 2001 21:05:13 -0000

Update Number 1.

<Can authoring using graphics = no localisation.> news:93003 -at- techwr-l -dot- -dot- -dot-

WOW! I can't believe the response. Thanks to you all, please keep it up.

My question has certainly sparked an interest in many readers and I have
been flooded with replies both on and off list.

Most valuable at the moment are the book and previous research
recommendations but I have also been very pleased to learn other Whirlers
personal thoughts on the idea. So far, no one has come up with an idea or
problem that I have not already considered but, far being from disappointed,
your collective minds have confirmed and concentrated my own thoughts.
(Maybe the "collective minds" would also like to try and solve some of the

These are the problems mentioned most prominently in the replies.
My initial answers are indicated by the "A#" but obviously, these are
probably not the definitive answer, more a collection of musings.

1) The world's languages have many grammatical differences.
A). No doubt, some form of grammar will be required but my goal is to limit
its need to a bare minimum. Good character design linked to careful
authoring will be highly important with the plan being that texts should be
intuitively readable.

2) People will not be willing to learn a new language.
A1) For the majority of tasks this should not be necessary. We all read
signs and symbols everyday. From the TV remote control to highway signs, we
are used to seeing symbols and what's more, we often have to understand
completely new characters almost instinctively.
A2) New technologies, such as mobile phone text messaging, are already
introducing new languages, new grammar and new ways of using existing text.
People learn these new methods of communication without really thinking
about it. Text messaging in particular seems to be a new naturally evolving
"sub-language" of whatever is your mother tongue.

3. Ideogramatic languages such as Chinese already exist and others died out
many centuries ago.
A) Very true but all of these languages evolved in relative isolation.
Limited populations (in comparison to the world population), living in
relatively small areas and having little scope for dissemination. Today, as
we know, information travels at the speed of light and for many people
location is no barrier. A new Idogramatic language would instantly have
millions of potential users. What's more, a huge user base would ensure that
the language was constantly being fine-tuned to meet its users needs.

4) You cannot completely remove all normal text.
A) Again, very true. I can see that a standardised alphabet would be needed,
together with a system of numbering. Who's alphabet and numbers is the real
problem. I would assume that 0 - 9 is now fairly universal but maybe I'm
I know for a fact that the English alphabet of 26 letters is by no means
wide spread but the alphabet problem is surmountable.

For typing the characters on a computer I envisage that authors would change
to the "new" font and using a key guide, simply type the characters. If
letters were needed for names or labelling etc they could be available via
the shift or caps lock setting, further characters and letters could also be
available, as they are now, by adding the Alt key to the combination.
Numbers would be available as normal.

As for international character add-ons, such as the German umlaut or the
grave mark, if the word must have that particular accenting there is always
the Character Map . Ideally one of the grammatical rules could be to remove
the need for such markings but that comes from an English speaker, where
such marks are rare.

More obviously than all of this, users could simply switch to a normal font
to type "words" thus leaving all of the shift and Alt combinations free for
a greater range of graphical symbols.

5) The new language would be massive.
A) Potentially there could be a huge number of characters but by grouping
them in to font sets such as electrical, mechanical, IT, etc it would all be
more manageable.

6) Company copy rites protect many existing symbols.
A) I feel that "Open Source" is the answer to this. The Linux revolution and
the GNU are a testament to how people power can over come the big players.
Should the idea take off, the popularity would sway some companies to submit
their characters for inclusion in a particular font set. Those that did not
may have to face the day when their particular and unique symbol is no
longer recognised on mass.

7) Compatibility between PCs, Macs, Unix etc would be a pain.
A) I must admit that as a Win user I am blissfully untroubled by these
issues but I do know that many other people are. As far as I understand,
systems are already in place that will convert fonts to work on different
OS. Will the same systems not work for the new fonts if they are in an
otherwise normal format such as TTF?

END of problems (for now).

It would be virtually impossible for me to do all of this work alone but by
harnessing the "collective minds" throughout the world I feel that a good
product can evolve.
The idea, although not new, is still a very small acorn but if you have read
this far and it has held your interest why not join me in what could be the
start of a giant Oak.

Sorry for that last line but I'm feeling the rush of being in at the
beginning on something big.

As usual, all of your comments are very welcome.

Best wishes,

Mark Emson.
mt -dot- emson -at- ntlworld -dot- com -dot-

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