Andrew Glass asg at U.WASHINGTON.EDU
Mon Nov 1 04:30:20 UTC 2004


If I understand correctly, your comment may result from a confusion of
encoding, font, and input method.

"Encoding" refers to the numerical values a document uses to store units
of text. All modern computers can use Unicode for this. A document
encoded as Unicode will be readable on all other operating systems that
support this standard. For example, there is a unique value assigned to
Devanagari 'a'.

A "font" is a collection of letter shapes that a computer uses to
display the content of a text file. A "Unicode font" is simply a font
that knows which shapes to display for a text file that is encoded in
Unicode. The "OpenType", "TrueType", "Type 1" and "AAT" are font formats
that differ in how they define and cross-reference letter shapes. The
first three of these work on all modern computers; AAT only works on the

"Keyboard layout" (or "input method") refers to the way a user enters
text into the computer. For instance, one can tell the computer to
insert a Devanagari 'a' into a document when the A key is pressed on the
keyboard. Different keyboard layouts are just different users'
preferred ways of entering a particular script. On modern computers, the
choice of keyboard layout is independent of the choice of font used, and
the encoding will in any case can be Unicode.  The resulting files can
be freely shared and edited on different computer systems.

I hope this clarifies the situation more than it confuses it!

Andrew Glass
Stefan Baums

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