Will GTK be used in Openmoko?

Shachar Shemesh shachar at shemesh.biz
Fri May 16 07:19:31 CEST 2008

Carsten Haitzler (The Rasterman) wrote:
> On Thu, 15 May 2008 20:58:48 +0300 Shachar Shemesh <shachar at shemesh.biz>
> babbled:
I will do my best to show you more respect than you have obviously shown 
me. No promises.
> indeed. but most of the world does use languages that for display purposes are
> 1 glyph per letter and happily drawn left to right.
Oh, so that's alright then, is it?

Do remind me how many people live in China. Last time I checked, 
traditional Chinese would not accept left to right input, nor simple key 
presses, nor went below a sixth of the world's population.

In fact, lets go a step further. Wikipedia claims you live in Japan at 
the moment. Look at the phones around you and do tell me how many of 
them have English only input. I don't know phones very well, but for 
general typing, last time I checked the smallest subset of Kanji was 120 
characters long, and was only used by the Government. People typing 
solely in Hiragana was not something Japanese would look nicely upon. 
And that's Japanese, a language that converted from writing top to 
bottom with columns going right to left to writing left to right with 
lines going top to bottom. Do keep in mind that the rest of east Asia 
has not done that transformation, to the best of my knowledge.
> in india roman text is pretty popular as is english (remember
> these are generalisations you can find exceptions).
Right. They know English, so lets disregard the local language. Whether 
it is popular is not the right question. The question is whether it is 
the language of choice. Remember, this is a free phone we are talking 
about here.
> as such EFL has no right-to-left support - why? no one has yet to step up and
> help. why? there is so little demand for it
in the developer community. Then again, the NEO is not intended to stay 
within the developer community.

Israel has a much higher level of English literacy among the general 
population than almost any of the Arab countries. You can walk down ANY 
street of ANY city and ask for directions in English, and it will be 
very rare to have to get a confused look and no answer. When I work with 
my phone, I use an English interface, because Hebrew technical language 
looks weird for me. However, when I look at the vast majority of friends 
phones, they are on Hebrew interface. You live in a non-English speaking 
country. I suggest you do the same.

Maybe a huge chunk of the world can GET BY on left to right, single 
letter at a time, but it is far from true to say that that is what a 
huge chunk of the world prefers.

Is this a huge deal? Yes, it is. Iran has some very strange concepts of 
what "copyright" is. In practice, it only honors that right for 
Iranians. As a result, Microsoft stopped releasing Windows in Farsi. Did 
Iranians take Windows in Arabic and make do? No, they did not. Did they 
take the English version and added Arabic support, so they can 
communicate ok but read the strings in English? No, they did not. They 
took the Arabic version and hacked it until it would display Farsi. 
That's how important localization is to people.

Oh, and about text input: There are very simple way to handle text 
printing without built in support. They won't help for Chinese, but for 
BiDi you can simply pre-reorder the letters. For Arabic you can 
pre-shape them as well. It's called "Visual mode". Then again, if you 
look at a typical phone use, you will find out, to your utter amazement, 
that there are TONS of text input going on. SMS, address book, calender, 
and the list goes on.
>  :( even the guys i know who do EFL
> dev that speak/read arabic prefer using english (they are from lebanon).
See above. There is a difference between using for technical reasons and 
for general use, and there is a difference between highly technical 
people and the general population.
>  i know
> it sounds harsh
No, I was actually thinking of another word. It begins with a B
>  - i don't mean to be, but minority languages tend to get the
> worse end of the stick support-wise
Which is precisely why I'm asking that we stick to toolkits that are 
mature enough not to discard them.

Essentially you are saying: We (actually, you|) decided to go with EFL, 
it doesn't do non-western, tough on everybody else. That MIGHT have made 
sense if no toolkit supported those languages, but the simple truth is 
that other toolkits exist, and they do support it.
What I'm saying is: Take the question of non-western support into 
consideration when thinking whether to go EFL.

In other words, instead of telling all those billions (literally) of 
people "your language is too weird for my mind, so I'm going to 
disregard you when choosing a technology", I'm suggesting we tell EFL 
"your toolkit does not support the first choice language for a third of 
the world, so we will not pick you".
>  :( i know how painful it can be supporting
> them - i looked into doing right-to-left and gave up when i saw the world of
> hurt that was doing mixes right-to-left and left-to-right formatting...
No, that part is easy. It's easy because it's a solved problem. The 
parts that are hard are text input and getting program to respect 
paragraph direction. It's a lot of work even if the infrastructure is there.
> (english quoted inside arabic text, or vice-versa). one day i should make use
> of pango for some of this - but at the time i wrote my font engine pango was
> new and fairly sluggish. one day there will be enough impetus for someone to do
> something about it, but until now - that hasn't existed. :(
Sure it has. That's why both GTK AND QT support those languages out of 
the box. Also true for Mac OS (for quite some time) and Windows. Every 
phone I ever picked up over the past decade or so supports BiDi in its 
default firmware. My Palm Pilot supports BiDi. In fact, if the NEO does 
not support those technology, it will be the one to be out of the ordinary.


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