Thursday, August 27, 2009

OS X 10.6 (Snow Leopard): New Language Features

Here are the new language features I've seen so far in Snow Leopard 10.6.0:

1) Chinese handwriting input is possible for laptops with Multi-Touch trackpads when using Apple Chinese IM's.

2) The Chinese Pinyin input method is improved and some new Heiti and Hiragino CJK fonts are provided.

3) Polish is included the list of built-in spellcheckers, and you can now add .dic/.aff format dictionaries from other sources (e.g. OpenOffice ). Also you can set the system wide spell checking language without changing the system language itself.

4) The ability to set the keyboard layout as the same for all docs or different for each doc, present in Tiger but omitted in Leopard, has been restored.

5) Bidirectional text (e.g. English/Hebrew) now has system-wide settings for split-cursor, and for RTL, LTR, and Default text directions. (But it looks like RTL problems in iWork/iWeb have not been addressed).

6) VoiceOver is now able to handle all 18 system languages (but only English is provided by Apple).

7) Unicode is upgraded to the latest version (5.1 of 4/4/2008)

8) A "US International - PC" keyboard layout is included, which will be welcomed by Switchers accustomed to using this for W. European languages. (Another has been available on the Web for some time, however.)

9) Hitting Space while holding down Apple/Command will produce a list of active keyboard layouts in the center of the screen, which can be selected via the mouse or the up/down arrows.

10.6 has no new localizations for OS X or any new languages for reading and input.

Also it appears that File > Get Info no longer has a Languages tab, which makes it hard to run an app in a language other than that of the OS. A workaround may be here.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

A Hebrew Display Issue

Recently in the Apple Discussions a user had some problems making Hebrew Final Kaf plus Sheva display correctly. Getting this right requires that the font have enough smarts to combine the two characters involved (U+05DA and U+05B0) properly, putting the Sheva inside the Final Kaf instead of just underneath its vertical stroke, as is done elsewhere. Apple's Hebrew Qwerty keyboard layout also requires that you type Shift + k to get Final Kaf rather than just Kaf. This graphic shows how different Hebrew fonts I have on my Leopard system render it in TextEdit. Unfortunately 4 of the 5 supplied by Apple don't do a good job.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Why No Mac Browser Support for Vertical Text?

The ability to display webpage text in vertical format is highly desirable for Chinese, Japanese, and possibly other languages. Recently I checked Safari 4.0.3, FireFox 3.5.2, and Opera 9.64 and found that they still cannot do this in OS X, using this test page.

Same failure for Google Chrome.

I understand that Win IE (starting with version 5.5) is the only browser which has this feature.

Can it really be so difficult?

Monday, August 10, 2009

Braille Output Available in New Languages

Thanks to Archie Robertson there are now free Braille output packages available in French, Norwegian, Danish, German, Greek, Cyrillic and Hebrew. For info see this page.