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An interesting thing that we have discovered (despite relentless searching for 'director ime' on google and macromedia with no hint of the setting) is that Director has a setting in the preferences for 'inlineIMEEnabled'. Now with this set to true, as you type the characters in the IME, they appear as question marks. Whereas with this set to false (as by default), the characters appear correctly as you type but then enter incorrectly into the textfield.
This is a hint to us that we must be doing something wrong but for the life of us, can't figure it out. Another point to note is that although this option can be ticked in the general preferences, if we tick it, click ok and then go back, the box has unchecked itself. The way we tested it was to put the code _player.inlineIMEEnabled = true at the first frame of our projector. Hopefully this may give a few more hints.
Hmm well we have discovered probably two things of note. The first is that this problem does not exist when published on the mac as it would appear director for mac supports unicode.
Secondly, we found that this works without issue if the system has been fully set to japanese (requires restart). So finding this out, our fears have been alayed for this project - we are now able to display and enter any language and save down etc - pretty cool.
It would still be nice however, to be able to enter text via the ime without needing to configure the entire system to the same language as the field is capable of displaying the characters fine. To take a guess, we think this must be due to director using some kind of ascii mapping from the ime's result, to pass to flash and that this works when the system is in japanese because this sets some kind of system font mapping for ascii japanese.
This is all guesswork and anybody that actually knows hows this stuff, please shed some light =)
Hope this helps anyone experiencing similar frustrations.