Monday, May 7, 2007

Typing Lao

Lao is closely related to Thai, and these two scripts are the only ones encoded by Unicode in visual rather than logical order -- i.e. some vowels are typed before consonants, even though they actually follow them when pronounced.

OS X does not come with either a font or keyboard for Lao. The best font to use is Saysettha Unicode, and you can download a keyboard layout (LaoSTEA) from my iDisk.

Some diacritics may not display in totally correct locations on a Mac with the available fonts. Also Lao does not separate words by spaces, and OS X has no Lao dictionary, so linebreaking will not work automatically. When inputting you can use Shift + Space to put a zero-width space (U+200B) after words to help lines break correctly.

37 comments:

Anonymous said...

Thanks for this great info Tom, I've been wondering how to type Lao on my mac for ages. Is there anywhere to get a Lao flag icns file?

Tom Gewecke said...

I put a LaoSTEA.icns file in my iDisk for you to try.

Bigbaka said...

Thanks Tom, that worked a treat!

Bigbaka said...

Hi once again Tom,

Had a quick question re the Lao script. I was typing some Lao into a website chat board (facebook.com) using Firefox 2.0.0.6 but the script was very small and is difficult to read next to the Engilsh script. Is there any way to make the script bigger without resizing the whole screen?
ອານ ຍາກ

Tom Gewecke said...

Sorry, I don't know how to do that. I think you would probably have to be able to invoke a local .css style sheet to replace what is being used by the website in question.

Anonymous said...

what should i do after download the laostea thanks

Tom Gewecke said...

You put it in Home/Library/Keyboard Layouts, logout/login, then go to system prefs/international/input menu and check its box (plus the box for "show input menu in Finder"), then select it from the "flag" menu at the top right of the Finder and type.

Anonymous said...

Hi,

I install and follow the instruction above, putting the files into my Keyboard layouts folder and check the box at the international input menu. The problem is that when I select the LaoSTEA keyboard layout and trying typing in google search box and msn, nothing is being written. I also tried it in Words and it just won't support the script and shows squares instead. But at least it shows that I'm tying. Is there anything I could have miss? Thanx

Tom Gewecke said...

Did you install a Lao font? OS X does not come with one. I have no problem typing Lao in the Google search box of Safari. Are you using some other browser? As for MS stuff, it never surprises me when it fails to work with such scripts. All Apple stuff works I think.

Anonymous said...

I did install Lao fonts and I can type it MSN messenger when my keyboard is set in US layout and I have to select the font option to a Lao font.

Now, when I type, there are blocks coming up instead of letters. Could this be the encoding issue because I don't have Saysetha Unicode on my OS X and I don't know how to get it.

I use both Firefox and Safari. They both doesn't seem to work when I had my keyboard layout on LAOSTEA. Anything else I can try?

Tom Gewecke said...

If you can type Lao with the US layout, you are not using Unicode. Sorry, I don't know anything about those non-standard systems for Lao.

For the keyboard on my iDisk, you must use a Unicode font. You should easily be able to use Google to find Saysettha and others, for example here:

http://www.wazu.jp/gallery/Fonts_Lao.html

Kadyak said...

Hi Tom,

I am very frustrated. I have Sayettha Lao (sayettA.tff & sayettB.ttf) and I have the Alice series in TTF. I have installed them into a library in leopard. They appear just fine in Font Book. However, in the character pallet there are just squares where the lao characters should be mapped and in actual applications, I see nothing but squares. I downloaded your keyboard too, although I am not trying to type. I am just trying to view and copy Laotian text from Word to InDesign for a brochure I am supposed to get done for work. I cannot figure out what is happening nor could Apple. Do you have any ideas?

Tom Gewecke said...

Are you sure those are Unicode fonts? Did you get them here? If not, download some of these and try again:

http://www.wazu.jp/gallery/Fonts_Lao.html

laolamleuak said...

Hi Tom,
So many thanks for your good work, please keep it up. I just found your blog today, after long time I tried to set up Lao Unicode for MAC but not success, today I have done it perfectly in leopard I put keyboard layout and flag file from your iDisk in /Users/[comp. account]/Libary/Keyboard Layouts.
But may I ask you a question how do I swap English and Lao keyboard layout. For an example in windows vista I could set key for Shift and Alt when want to swap typing between two languages now I have to use mouse to click for changing.
Thanks in advance.
Best regards

Tom Gewecke said...

Apple/Command + Space.

http://docs.info.apple.com/article.html?path=Mac/10.5/en/8949.html

Anonymous said...

Hi,
Thank you very much for your hard work. I tried to set up Lao fonts for Max OS X for long time. Following your introduction, I set up LaoSTEA.keylayout in international pref., it works and I have font Saysettha Lao (I think it's unicode). I can read Lao letters when I opened files on Word or Lao web on Safari. But the problem is I can't type Lao language, instead of the letters, blocks (square) were appeared. I tried to download another Lao font unicode from website that you have posted, but it didn't work with Mac OS X. Is there anything I missed? Do you have any suggestion?

Tom Gewecke said...

Surely you can type Lao in TextEdit when the Lao keyboard is visible in the "flag" menu at the top right of the Finder, no?

What app is giving you the problem? Are you sure the font is set for the Lao font?

Anonymous said...

Thank you for posting the STEA keyboard; now I don't have to toggle between Lao and English for punctuation. Could you please tell me where I put the icon file so that the Lao flag will replace the generic keyboard icon currently appearing next to "LaoSTEA" in the input menu? Thanks again....Sarah

Tom Gewecke said...

Sarah -- You should put the icon file in the same folder as the keyboard layout.

Anonymous said...

Thanks very much, Tom. Since you've been so helpful, I'm wondering if there's a shortcut key combination, or if I can create one, for the zero-width space. When I try Shift+Space, I just get a normal space. I can insert it using the Character Palette, but it's inconvenient. I wasn't able to find information about shortcut keys for special characters. Thank you again....Sarah

Tom Gewecke said...

I put a new version of the layout on my iDisk for which I verified that Shift + space produces zwsp. Let me know if it works for you.

luke cassady-dorion said...

Hi, sabadii ... The advice for the Lao font worked for my Mac, but now I am wondering if it is possible to get the font to display on a iPhone. Does anyone have experience doing this?

Tom Gewecke said...

The iphone doesn't support Lao yet, and adding it would require a lot of hacking I think. Best serch via Google for it.

Maclao said...

Hi Tom,

I used the Lao keyboard layout downloaded from your iDisk with my new macbook (Leopard 10.5.6), almost works great but with Safari on google box next to address bar sometime it works sometime nothing appears when I type Lao and on Pages (iWork '08) I get incorrect character e.g I typed LAO LETTER DO I got LAO LETTER NYO until I changed the font like Saysettha OT. I've like to know the incorrect character come from which font?
Thank you

Tom Gewecke said...

Maclao -- Please see this more recent blog article:

http://m10lmac.blogspot.com/2008/12/new-lao-font-for-os-x.html

Sorry, I have no idea why there might be an input problem on some site using Safari. Also I cannot tell what font you might have on your machine that has the wrong character.

Anonymous said...

Tom: Finally getting back to you about the ZWSP. Thank you very much!! I have your keyboard on both of my computers now, and it works great! With the keyboard layout I used to use, there were lots of dead keys, which was a waste. All of my Unicode fonts are now much more useful, and the ZWSP is fantastic. By the way, I have Lao contacts in my iPhone and I can read them just fine. I didn't do any hacking, either. I'm afraid I don't know what I did right, but I thought people might be interested in knowing it's possible....Sarah

Anonymous said...

I just bought a Mac and my probleme is: how can I converse all my text in Saysettha Lao.

Your help will be much appreciated. Thanks

Tom Gewecke said...

Sorry, I don't know what you mean by "converse all my text". Are you convert from non-Unicode to unicode?

See this article for a better font:

http://m10lmac.blogspot.com/2008/12/new-lao-font-for-os-x.html

Jonathan said...

Hi Tom

The Lao text and keyboard is working fine when I use it on my Mac, however when I receive a word doc from a PC and open it, the text, according to my client changes. The text is copied into indesign and then sent as a pdf. Is there a specific font that behaves the same on windows and mac that we should be using? or do you know of another solution. I have brochure and posters to produce which need English and Lao text displayed.

Your help will be appreciated. Thank you

Tom Gewecke said...

Jonathan -- What are you opening the word doc with? I think that neither Word for Mac or InDesign for Mac support correct Lao, so the problem may be in the apps rather than a font. I don't use either of these so I can't help much. You might using OpenOffice instead of Word for Mac and asking on the InDesign forum.

Anonymous said...

Hi Tom,

I installed the Saysettha fonts and LaoSTEA keyboard on my Mac OSX 10.7.5 following the instructions from www.laoscript.net.
I'm not able to activate as I don't see LaoSTEA in System Preferences - International _ Input menu (even not after restart).
Have you any suggestion?

Tom Gewecke said...

All I can suggest is that you double-check that you actually have a file called LaoSTEA.keylayout in the folder called Library/Keyboard Layouts.

Anonymous said...

Yes, I have the file LaoSTEA.keylayout as well as LaoSTEA.icns in the folder Library/Keyboard Layouts.

Tom Gewecke said...

Works fine for me, I don't know why it would not appear on your Input Sources list. Did you actually do logout/login? Try setting up another user account and see if it appears when you are logged into that.

Anonymous said...

Tom, I ran the standard "Repair Privileges Utility". The Check option showed a lot of issues which are repaired now by the Repair option. Unfortunately, after restart of the system no LaoSTEA in the Input Sources! Also setting up another user didn't give the solution.
Any more suggestions?

Anonymous said...

Try putting the .keylayout file in Home/Library/Keyboard Layouts. To get to that folder, you must hold down the option key while you click on Finder > Go.

Anonymous said...

Tom. This solved the problem.
Thank you for your suggestions and patience.

Regards, Jan