5 Replies Latest reply: Jul 18, 2012 1:17 PM by Joel Cherney RSS

    How many scripts (as in writing systems) are supported by InDesign?

    pwillies

      I am trying to find a definitive list of scripts (as in writing systems) supported by InDesign. Is that available somewhere? These are the scripts I am interested in:

       

      Arabic

      Armenian

      Bengali

      Braille

      Canadian Syllabics

      Chinese

      Cherokee

      Cyrillic

      Devanagari

      Ethiopic

      Georgian

      Greek

      Gujarati

      Gurmukhi

      Hebrew

      Japanese

      Kannada

      Khmer

      Korean

      Lao

      Latin

      Malayalam

      Mongolian

      Myanmar

      Oriya

      Sinhala

      Tamil

      Telugu

      Thai

      Tibetan

        • 1. Re: How many scripts (as in writing systems) are supported by InDesign?
          Joel Cherney MVP

          Some parts of your question are quite vague - "Ethiopic" covers a lot of ground,you know. But at one point or another, I've typeset pretty much every one of those languages in InDesign. (Okay, okay, I've never done any Kannada or Oriya- and the Monglolian was in boring Cyrillic, not the cool old-fashioned vertical script.)

           

          However, it would have been nigh impossible without plugins like World Tools from in-tools.com, specialized Javascripts, templates saved out of CJK InDesign, and so on. ID's complex script support was hidden, unsupported, and only exposable via scripting until CS6 - and most of the tools to manipulate type in non-Latin scripts still require hidden functionality, hence the plugins and templates and et cetera. There is no "master list of supported scripts," so far as I've seen.  And some of these languages, like Khmer and Lao, have either funky Unicode requirements (zero-width spaces) or a long tradition offunky quasi-Unicode workaround requirements (duct-taped hacks to fake up zero-width spaces).

           

          It's deeper than it looks. Try searching Google for "World-Ready Composer" -  that will get you started.

          • 2. Re: How many scripts (as in writing systems) are supported by InDesign?
            pwillies Community Member

            Just to clarify: My question relates to scripts, not languages, so by Ethiopic I refer to the script specified in the Unicode range 1200 to 137F (http://unicode.org/charts/PDF/U1200.pdf), which is used to write multiple languages, such as Amharic and Tigrinya and other languages in the same region. The same would apply to all the other scripts in the list - Latin refers to the script used to write English, not the language.

             

            I'm trying to ascertain how many of these scripts work out the box with InDesign. This would include the ability to compose the text with all its "funky Unicode requirements." I wish we had such a list. Perhaps I'm looking for a language list where I find one language representing each of the scripts I'm interested in.

             

            In the mean time, your answer is helpful as it indicates that at the very least at this stage I would need to use some third party plugins and some hidden functionality. I will also see what else I can find on the World-Ready Composer.

            • 3. Re: How many scripts (as in writing systems) are supported by InDesign?
              Joel Cherney MVP

              Yeah, I do understand that Ge'ez/Ethiopic script covers many languages - but quite a few East African minority languages written in Ge'ez that are not Amharic or Tigrinya use forms/"houses"/etc. not in the Unicode spec. The same is true of minority languages in Myanmar - don't assume you can typeset Karen once you have "Myanmar" in your list of supported languages!

               

              When you say "out of the box" do you really mean that? Most of the languages in that list that will work without plugins etc. require specialized fonts. The glyph coverage of the fonts that Adobe gives away with ID or the Creative Suite is extensive, but won't include most of your required languges. But, assuming you already have the fonts, and assuming that you know where to find the World-Ready Composer, then anything in that list that is not right-to-left (or vertical) should at least render correctly in ID. Mind you, "render correctly" doesn't help you if your Burmese translator doesn't key in zero-width spaces, for example.

               

              I think that this may well be why there is no Adobe master-list of supported languages that is easy to find; it's because It Is A Very Complicated Issue. I've been doing typesetting in a list of languages much like yours for the last decade, and even if Adobe's type rendering engine handles fonts-built-according-to-Unicode-spec (e.g. Lao), there is significant variation in font development techniques, font modification by people writing in minority languages, keying order, and personal translator keying preferences. But if you find that list, post it! I will be surprised, but not shocked, if it exists somewhere.

              • 4. Re: How many scripts (as in writing systems) are supported by InDesign?
                pwillies Community Member

                ...don't assume you can typeset Karen once you have "Myanmar" in your list of supported languages!

                Great example - you are reading my mind. I guess I am assuming that if I can do Myanmar, I can do Karen. There are extensions to the Myanmar script added in later Unicode versions to support the various Karen languages, and if "Adobe's type rendering engine handles fonts-built-according-to-Unicode-spec", then this should work fine - even if the InDesign UI is all English. If Unicode is missing some characters, then of course the situation is different. Maybe this is a flawed assumption, but it has worked using Microsoft Word for many years.

                When you say "out of the box" do you really mean that?

                100% correct - this is not really out of the box - we will need to add fonts. Either we need to use what we already have or purchase new ones or a combination.

                Mind you, "render correctly" doesn't help you if your Burmese translator doesn't key in zero-width spaces, for example. 

                I think the Burmese translator will have to key in the zero-width spaces or whatever is necessary to make their text read correctly before it goes for composition. Mostly they work in Word, and then the text goes for the serious composition. The question would be whether the text stream needed for InDesign to render correctly differs from what Word requires.

                • 5. Re: How many scripts (as in writing systems) are supported by InDesign?
                  Joel Cherney MVP

                  The question would be whether the text stream needed for InDesign to render correctly differs from what Word requires.

                   

                  If I wasn't recovering from repetitive stress injuries, I'd write you an essay.   As it is, all I can do in my doctor-prescribed limited keyboarding time today is this: Word uses Windows to render Unicode as do most Windows apps. InDesign does not. Behaviors may differ on combining accents, decomposition, et cetera. Most dirty hacky fonts for minority languages have hacks which cater to the infamous USP10.dll - in other words, they cater to Word, and the idiosyncracies of Windows Unicode rendering. Many fonts for minority languages take advantage of these idiosyncracies to make using these fonts easier in Word; they'll make your life harder as you work around them.

                   

                  It's Deeper Than It Looks.