Tuesday, May 31, 2022

Unicode 15.0 Beta Review

[Kawi beta chart image] The beta review period for Unicode 15.0 has started. The Unicode Standard is the foundation for all modern software and communications around the world, including all modern operating systems, browsers, laptops, and smart phones-plus the Internet and Web (URLs, HTML, XML, CSS, JSON, etc.). The Unicode Standard, its associated standards, and data form the foundation for CLDR and ICU releases. Thus it is important to ensure a smooth transition to each new version of the standard.

Unicode 15.0 includes a number of changes and 4,489 new characters, including another major extension of CJK unified ideographs. A number of the Unicode Standard Annexes have significant modifications for Unicode 15.0. Two new scripts have been added, and there are also 20 additional emoji characters in Unicode 15.0.

Please review the documentation, adjust your code, test the data files, and report errors and other issues to the Unicode Consortium by July 12, 2022. The review period will only be for six weeks, so prompt feedback is appreciated. Feedback instructions are on the beta page.

See https://www.unicode.org/versions/beta-15.0.0.html for more information about testing the 15.0.0 beta.

See https://www.unicode.org/versions/Unicode15.0.0/ for the current draft summary of Unicode 15.0.0.

About the Unicode Consortium

The Unicode Consortium is a non-profit organization founded to develop, extend and promote use of the Unicode Standard and related globalization standards.

The membership of the consortium represents a broad spectrum of corporations and organizations, many in the computer and information processing industry. Members include: Adobe, Amazon, Apple, Emojipedia, Google, Government of Bangladesh, International Emerging Technology Company (ETCO), Meta, Microsoft, Netflix, Salesforce, SAP, Tamil Virtual Academy, The University of California (Berkeley), Yat Labs, plus well over a hundred Associate, Liaison, and Individual members. For a complete member list go to https://home.unicode.org/membership/members/.

For more information, please contact the Unicode Consortium https://home.unicode.org/connect/contact-unicode/.

Over 144,000 characters are available for adoption to help the Unicode Consortium’s work on digitally disadvantaged languages


Wednesday, May 4, 2022

Out of this World: New Astronomy Symbols Approved for the Unicode Standard

Five Trans-Neptunian Objects to Join Character Set

By Deborah Anderson, Chair of Unicode Script Ad Hoc Committee

In January 2022, the Unicode Technical Committee approved five new symbols to be published in Unicode 15.0. With the projected release date of September 2022, these symbols are based on newly discovered trans-Neptunian objects (TNOs) in the Solar System. They resulted from research efforts such as those led by astronomer and professor Dr. Michael Brown at the California Institute of Technology (CalTech).

These five objects orbit the Sun at a distance far larger than the major planets. They are currently believed to be large enough to be round, planetary worlds, in a category of objects called “dwarf planets” that also includes Ceres, Pluto, Eris and probably Sedna. The most famous trans-Neptunian object is Pluto, which historically had been considered to be the ninth planet from the Sun, but was reclassified as a dwarf planet in 2006 by the International Astronomical Union (IAU).[1]

[Pluto image]

How did this happen?

Individuals or organizations who want to propose new characters have to check existing characters to avoid duplicates, find out if there are equivalent forms already in existence, and most critically, determine the need for a digital interchange of them, such as symbols that have been encoded for use by NASA and other agencies. The proposal authors then must submit a proposal that articulates how their request meets the criteria.

Once a proposal is submitted, the Unicode Technical Committee determines whether to review the proposal and accept or decline it. This process can take a couple of years or more. In the case of these five characters, the proposers demonstrated the need, clearing the path for approval. 

Tell me more about these new characters. What are their names?

The International Astronomical Union (IAU) has standard conventions for naming objects both within and outside of the solar system. Objects orbiting the Sun outside the orbit of Neptune are named after mythological figures, particularly those associated with creation. But the subset that orbit in a two-to-three resonance with Neptune — the so-called “plutinos”, such as Pluto and Orcus — are named after figures associated with the underworld. In this case, the five TNOs, ordered by distance from the sun, are named:
  • Orcus: the Etruscan and Roman god of the underworld.
  • Haumea: the Hawaiian goddess of fertility; the telescope used to discover this object is located on Hawaiʻi.
  • Quaoar: an important mythological figure of the Tongva, the indigenous people who originally occupied the land where CalTech is located.
  • Makemake: the creator god of the Rapanui of Easter Island.
  • Gonggong: a destructive Chinese water god.
What information is there on the actual symbols that will be available?

All five symbols were designed by Denis Moskowitz, a software engineer in Massachusetts who had previously designed the Unicode symbol for Sedna. He drew inspiration from existing symbols and the “native name or culture” of the objects’ namesakes [2] to create the characters.

[TNO glyphs image]

Denis explains his inspiration for each symbol below:
  • Orcus: The symbol for Orcus is a combination of the Latin letters “O” and “R”, stylized to resemble a skull and an orca’s grin.
  • Haumea: The symbol created for Haumea was a combination and simplification of Hawaiian petroglyphs for “childbirth” and “woman”.
  • Quaoar: The symbol is the Latin letter “Q” with the tail fashioned into the shape of a canoe. The angular shape is intended to reflect Tongva rock art.
  • Makemake: The Makemake symbol is a traditional petroglyph of the face of the creator god Makemake, stylized to suggest an “M”. The design was a collaboration with John T. Whelan.
  • Gonggong: Gonggong’s symbol was based on the first Chinese character in the god’s name, 共 gòng, with a snaky tail replacing the lower section.
What else should we know?

The five symbols supplement a set of other characters for planetary objects that were published in 2018 (Unicode 11.0) and earlier. Two of the newly approved characters appear in a NASA poster. Other people have used the symbols in various media, including tattoos and art. Ultimately, these five new characters will join the 149,180 other characters in the Unicode Standard Version 15.0 and be accessible to anyone, anywhere in the world, who is using a computer or mobile device.

Where can I learn more?

Special thanks to Sarah Rivera and Kirk Miller for their contributions to this blog.

Over 144,000 characters are available for adoption to help the Unicode Consortium’s work on digitally disadvantaged languages