Friday, January 10, 2020

New Unicode Working Group: Message Formatting

at time on date One of the challenges in adapting programs to work with different languages is message formatting. This is the process of formatting and inserting data values into messages in the user’s language. For example, “The package will arrive at {time} on {date}” could be translated into German as “Das Paket wird am {date} um {time} geliefert”, and the particular {time} and {date} variables would be automatically formatted for German, and inserted in the right places.

The Unicode Consortium has provided message formatting for some time via the ICU programming libraries and CLDR locale data repository. But until now we have not had a syntax for localizable message strings standardized by Unicode. Furthermore, the current ICU MessageFormat is relatively complex for existing operations, such as plural forms, and it does not scale well to other language properties, such as gender and inflections.

The Unicode CLDR Technical Committee is formalizing a new working group to develop a technical specification for message format that addresses these issues. That working group is called the Message Format Working Group and is chaired by Romulo Cintra from CaixaBank. Other participants currently represented are Amazon, Dropbox, Facebook, Google, IBM, Mozilla, OpenJSF, and Paypal.

For information on how to get involved, visit the working group’s GitHub page:

Open discussions will take place on GitHub, and written notes will be posted after every meeting.

Over 130,000 characters are available for adoption, to help the Unicode Consortium’s work on digitally disadvantaged languages.


Thursday, January 9, 2020

New Unicode Technical Director

Roozbeh PournaderThe Unicode Consortium would like to welcome a new Technical Director, Roozbeh Pournader.

Roozbeh Pournader has been working on internationalization, standardization, open source software, and digital typography since 1994, when he was in high school, where he also participated in scientific olympiads and received several medals, including the Gold Medal at the International Olympiad in Informatics, 1996.

He started his internationalization career by adding Persian support to Donald Knuth’s typesetting system, TeX. Later, while studying Software Engineering at Sharif University of Technology, he founded the FarsiWeb Project that introduced and evangelized internationalization, Unicode, and open source in Iran. At FarsiWeb, Roozbeh led the development of two national Iranian standards, on information interchange (ISIRI 6219) and keyboard input (ISIRI 9147), which helped transition Persian users from old character sets to Unicode. To this day, FarsiWeb alumni, trained by Roozbeh, continue to work in the internationalization field at major tech companies.

Roozbeh founded the Persian Wikipedia in 2003 and received the Unicode Bulldog award in 2009 for his contributions to Unicode and CLDR’s support for complex scripts. Since moving to the United States, he has worked as an Internationalization Engineer at HighTech Passport, Google (working on Noto fonts, bidirectional support, Android internationalization, and Google Fonts), and Facebook. He has been WhatsApp’s Internationalization Lead at Facebook from early 2018.

Roozbeh has been formally representing various organizations to the Unicode Consortium, including High Council of Informatics (2000–2008), HighTech Passport (2009–2011), Google (2011–2018), and Facebook (2018–present). He is also the Vice Chair of the Unicode Script Ad Hoc Group.

For the listing of current directors and officers of the Consortium please see Unicode Directors, Officers and Staff