A Brief History of Non-English Fonts in X-talk

Mark Mitchell cowhead at me.com
Wed Oct 30 16:05:34 EDT 2013

A Brief History of Non-English Fonts in X-talk:

First, there was Hypercard in Mac OS9.  Oh, it was an amazing thing!  You could type in Japanese, you could replaceText, you could move text around, you could move single characters of text around!  And you could do this on an English system using a "Japanese Language Kit"…..  Life was beautiful.  Life was good.

Then, Soon, you no longer need the "language kit".  Apple incorporated all languages into the OS.  And guess what?? Everything still worked!  Exactly as before!  You could do ANYTHING with non-english characters and it JUST worked!  Life was beautiful.  Life was good.

Then came SuperCard, which introduced integrated color and stuff that we wanted.  And guess what?  You could STILL do anything you wanted with non-English scripts!  But, the whole system was a bit clumsy and not too pleasing.  But still, life was OK.  No problem.

Then came Meta-card.  I don't remember if Meta-card handled Japanese or non-english or not.  I think it did.  I think all was OK.

Then came Revolution.  Revolution Beta.  I think the non-English was OK.  And it was a great product.  Much better than Supercard or Metacard… So we waited for the Japanese and thought… life is OK.  It will get better.

Then came Revolution proper.  We spent hundreds of dollars on it.  We bought every different configuration of licenses that they could come up with!  Licence only good for the full moon?? We bought it!  Licence you could use but not tell anyone about?  We bought it!  Licence you could only stand up to code?? We friggin' bought it!  But each time, the non-english font handling just got worse.  You couldn't do ANYTHING with non-english fonts… until…..

Revolution 2.0!  Now, we finally had Unicode support!  Of course, we had to buy a new license to get it.  This one requiring that we pinch our nose while we code, but still we had Unicode!  The world was our oyster… our… rotten oyster… because.. yeah.. .it didn't work…not very well.. The world  kind of sucked…

Then, there was Revolution 2.5!  Now we could actually manipulate non-english text!  All we had to do was write incredibly convoluted code, like "set the unicodetext of field 1 to item 3 of field 2" (Of course, we had to do this while standing on one leg and holding our noses, as our license only permitted this) AND there was no way to change selected chunks of a text or field or property.  Can I just change the first word?  Sorry!  Out of luck!  Ah!  Are you using both legs!!  Shame on you!  Life sucked, but we paid anyway, as the product was getting better and we were getting used to one leg and no nose.

Then came Revolution 4.5!  The big update that was to solve all of our problems.  People had been talking about it on the forum.  This is what we were waiting for!  And, in fact, life DID get better…  the program didn't crash when using the wrong font with unicode.  That IS better.  But… still no non-English "file names" And still no manipulating 2 byte characters except 1 byte at a time.  Still convoluted as hell.  Life still pretty much sucks.

Then, comes Livecode!  And guess what?  We don't have to buy it! And if we did, we wouldn't have any idea what to buy!  It's this new weird thing!  Why the hell did I spend all my money before??  Can I stop pinching my nose now??  And so we download the latest version and tried an old stack that changes file names…  doesn't work…. why not??  Ahh… the filenames have some Japanese in them.  So we start playing with the unicode and guess what?? It works worse than before!  It's actually gotten worse!  

So, 23 years after Hypercard could do it all, 23 YEARS!! and 13 years after Revolution-Livecode could NOT do it… for the non-english font users, life still sucks, and sucks badly.  

If it was done so well in Hypercard… is it really that hard?? 

(Note:  I still endorse Livecode and think it is an excellent product, I just have problems understanding why 23 years later, it still cannot do what Hypercard could do so well.)

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