Will GTK be used in Openmoko?

Carsten Haitzler (The Rasterman) raster at openmoko.org
Fri May 16 08:52:03 CEST 2008

On Fri, 16 May 2008 08:19:31 +0300 Shachar Shemesh <shachar at shemesh.biz>

> 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.

ok. excuse me. but i did not show any disrespect. i simply stated facts. if of
course you don't like those facts, that is another matter. i can't help that.
of course you are now feeling defensive.

> > 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?

yes. indeed. if we do it by population or by country count. the MAJORITY (most
- greater than 50%) use a language that DISPLAYS perfectly well left to right 1
character at a time. some numbers:

1320m in china
335m in north america
500m in western europe
500m in central + south america
142m russia
127m japan
87m vietnam
48m south korea
46m ukraine
23m north korea
25m australia  + nz
27m malaysia
460m various african nations not using arabic (nigeria, etc.)
3640m - already > 50% of the world population, and i didn't cover everything.
still more to go that do not use right-to-left or have some strange multi-char
overlay script.

> 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.

absolutely it will. go to china one day. text is MOSTLY written left to right.
i lived in japan for 4 years. i have travelled to china, taiwan (many times)
japan, korea, malaysia, singapore, indonesia... i am talking from experience.
i've lived on all continents other than antarctica. i was born in africa. i
speak several languages, some better than others. left-to-right is perfectly
acceptable and used many places.

i have skipped hindi and the above numbers do not include those using english
in india (which from the best of my knowledge seems to be very much the
language used for education so people learn it and speak it by the time they
get to afford to pay for phones like openmoko). this isn't a $1 phone. by sheer
community involvement and who actually buys a phone we will know just who the
customer base really is. my bets are that the vast vast vast majority will be
most happy with left-to-right 1 glyph at a time. note i did not address input.
just display.

> 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 

actually it's wrong. out of date :)

> them have English only input. I don't know phones very well, but for 

i never mentioned input. i quote myself:

> > indeed. but most of the world does use languages that for display purposes
> > are 1 glyph per letter and happily drawn left to right.

"for display purposes" ... "drawn left to right". i know how input methods
work. i can and have and do use them. they are rather complex. i was talking of
output - notice i talked of pango - which has nothing to do with input.

> 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.

and it displays PERFECTLY well left to right, 1 character at a time. DISPLAYS.
i did not talk of input methods. in fact the input method is romanised. you
type phonetically and that converts to either katakana, hiragana or kanji - and
it may match multiple kanji + hiragana combinations. btw - kanji are chinese
characters - there are 1000's of them. came in chinese (simplified and
traditional). hangul too. believe me i know just how complex input methods are.
japanese seems to take the cake in the asian language input method complexity
game given the myriad of combinations of matches from romanised phonetics to
hiragana, katakan, kanji and combinations thereof. but they still happily
display most documents - the vast majority, left to right, 1 character at a
time. they dont do fancy overlaying - not even kerning. hell the characters are
monospace squares. it's wonderful for layout! hooray for monospace (/me hugs
the asians for that). :)

> > 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.

you have a very strange notion of free. it still costs money. more than most
people in india earn in TOTAL in 3 months. that's 3 months for the average wage
earner in india (quoted at $145/month in 2006) to not eat, or have a roof over
their head or anything else just to afford to buy the phone.

no one is STOPPING anyone from adding software to the phone or working on it,
but let's be realistic. the phone needs to sell. that means those that can
afford to pay for it will buy it. by far and wide, like it or not, those people
speak a romanised language - in fact sales stats on the gta01 show sales are
almost EXCLUSIVELY to those who use a mere 26 letters in the alphabet maybe
with the odd umlaut or accent. we can put effort into supporting minority
languages - but frankly does it pay the bills? if openmoko sinks time and money
into supporting this for a customer base that doesn't exist - the free phone
project ends. that is the job of those that care enough and have the time to
plug those gaps.

again - you are digressing here from what i actually said. for display the vast
majority of the world can display their language left-to-right 1 character at a

> > 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.

that's great. now when israel represents a large amount of sales numbers... it
will become important to put the effort in

> 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.

a huge chunk prefers it. see my stats above. i didn't even finish them.

> 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.

i'm happy for them. i have N hours in a day to spend on something. until i get
a stream of farsi speakers or arabic speakers demanding support - it isn't
important to my time. as i said before - the people who can help decided it
wasn't important enough to bother.

> 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.

again - if they cared - they would help. they don't care. not like i'm going to
do it. i don't read arabic, farsi or hebrew. it's all the same to me. i have
yet to see waves of demand for language support for right-to-left support.

> >  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.

and efl does a tonne of things the other toolkits don't - and does it well.
give and take. focus on whats most important. if right-to-left support is so
important i'd have seen much more support efforts for it.

> 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".

again - billions - wrong. see stats above. list me languages that cannot
display left-to-right 1 char at a time and then count the # of people that
speak them. subtract that from 6.6 billion. i thing you'll still have  over 6
billion left.

> >  :( 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.

bwahahahahha. every phone. go to asia some day. go to japan - hell in japan you
have to look for a phone that supports english - look hard. most are japanese
ONLY. let me just start there.

Carsten Haitzler (The Rasterman) <raster at openmoko.org>

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