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WorldScript Clarifications

I wanted to clear up some misinformation in the recent article on WorldScript that claims that WorldScript depends on QuickDraw GX; this is not true. WorldScript is a built-in part of System 7.1 out of the box, and it doesn’t need GX to run.

Actually, many people seem to be confused about exactly what WorldScript is. WorldScript won’t really let you do anything that you couldn’t already do in System 7.0. In System 7.0 it’s easy to install multiple scripts, including right-to-left scripts, into the same System file, and with proper use by the application of Script Manager routines the application can display left-to-right and right-to-left text in the same line. This does not require WorldScript, just proper use of the Script Manager, which has been part of the system software since System 4.1. You could do all this fancy stuff before System 7, but it was harder to get multiple script systems installed since you couldn’t just drag-and-drop the script files into the System Folder.

(Alas, Microsoft applications still don’t use the Script Manager very much, but I’m working on that… Maybe some day.)

The difference between System 7.0 and WorldScript is that in 7.0, Apple wrote every different script system from scratch, and each script system had its own code to display text, measure text, find word breaks, etc. WorldScript defines some new resource types that are generic enough to support all script systems, and it provides two INITs that can interpret those tables and provide support for every script system. So with WorldScript, you can (just as under System 7.0) have multiple script systems installed, but they’ll take up less memory and be more consistent because there’s only one piece of code implementing all the script systems instead of a different piece of code for each script.

The one big user-visible innovation of WorldScript is that it includes support for double-byte character sets as used by Japanese, Chinese, and Korean, so that for the first time you’ll be able to use these scripts on a System 7 Mac. There were no Japanese, Chinese, or Korean scripts for System 7.0, although there were System 6 versions for these scripts.

TidBITS was correct in saying that the current double-byte character sets used by Apple are not Unicode. Apple has been using the standard (pre-Unicode) Japanese, Chinese, and Korean double-byte character sets for several years now, and that does not change in 7.1. I suspect it will be a while before Apple switches over to Unicode – if nothing else, it takes a long time to design fonts that have 20-30,000 characters in them! My understanding is that TrueType GX is very knowledgeable about Unicode internally, however, so once GX comes out we will probably see a lot more support for Unicode from Apple.

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