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Re: Language (in)dependent hyphenation properties

From: James Aylett <dj-www-style@insigma.com>
Date: Mon, 7 Dec 1998 14:58:27 +0000
Message-ID: <19981207145827.I31593@insigma.com>
To: www-style@w3.org
On Mon, Dec 07, 1998 at 07:09:34AM -0100, Clive Bruton wrote:

> >Really? Can you see hyphenation appearing in microkernel operating systems
> >such as might be used to build hand-held devices? It's not an operating
> >system feature at all - but (and I hope that this is what you meant) it
> >should be a shared resource.
> 
> Brief reply, as I'm away from "home".
> 
> I think hyphenation (in a browser) should  be a "drop-in" module, which 
> should allow for a user "dictionary" much like spell-checkers do.

(And similarly in word processing, DTP ... anything, in fact, that requires
hyphenation. Except probably TeX, because it already does it itself properly.)

> I think it's a little difficult to decide what are and what are not core 
> OS functions these days (ie Apple thinks text processing (ATSUI) is, 
> Microsoft thinks a web browser is), certainly hyphenation should be a 
> shared resource. I'll make the effort to find out if ATSUI deals with 
> this at all.

<shrugs>
This is really a matter of linguistics. I don't think many people would
argue that it's better to have a good hyphenation system which can be used
by anything that needs it, rather than a slew of poorly-conceived attempts.
In the case of Apple, they already make a big thing of shipping loads of
extended functionality along the lines of font rendering and so on with
their OS; clearly this just makes it more promising for a Mac OS-based
browser to leverage. Mileage will no doubt vary for other platforms.

What would be interesting would be some work on different 'levels' of
automated hyphenation, allowing the user (or at least the user process) to
decide how much effort to expend on hyphenation; so you end up with a
sliding scale between 'perfect' hyphenation, where the system has a
marked-up copy of the OED embedded with it, and anything else gets annotated
by the author, dropping down to a very primtive system which merely
recognises word parts that might hyphenate well (and, in fact, to the most
primative system of all, that never breaks words). Presumably there must be
something somewhere from the publishing world that deals with this sort of
thing.

Hmm ... not quite sure where this discussion is going. I'll shut up now, I
think, and let someone else see if it can bend back towards stylesheets :)

James

-- 
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  James Aylett, dj@insigma.com                    Insigma Technologies Ltd
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Received on Monday, 7 December 1998 09:58:30 GMT

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