A Guide to Using Myanmar Unicode

Myanmar Unicode enabled Applications

The most urgent need for Myanmar Unicode is on the Internet, where Unicode becomes essential. Unless you have exactly the right font installed, a page based on the old font encodings will render as a collection of apparently random English letters. Emails are usually sent with no font information, so it is impossible to send emails in Myanmar without resorting to HTML, but even then there are problems. With Unicode these problems should be avoided, because the browser/email client knows immediately that the data is in Myanmar language. The software does however need to be able to render Myanmar correctly to be useful.

There is also much to be gained in other applications. If Myanmar Unicode is used, then it becomes possible to translate menus with mixed English and Burmese text. Even the desktop can be translated - provided that it can be rendered correctly.

Office Applications are also an important every day use of Myanmar. Although the old fonts have been used successully for many years there are limitations in line breaking behaviour and sorting, that can be over come with Unicode.

Sadly the use of traditional glyph based encoding using the Myanmar Unicode code range has made it harder to use true Unicode 5.1 fonts. Zaw Gyi uses code points that have been allocated in Unicode 5.1 for Mon, Karen and Shan for Burmese glyph variants. The medials in ZawGyi have been encoded completely differently to those in Unicode 5.1. This means that if a ZawGyi web page is displayed with a true Unicode 5.1 font it will be unreadable and vice-versa. The potential benefits of Unicode fonts in searching and sorting in Myanmar are lost when ZawGyi is used. It is therefore strongly recommended to use true Unicode 5.1 fonts.