2011-08-21

Windows 7 and the Romanian language

Starting with Windows Vista, Romanian language became properly supported on Windows: two new keyboard layouts were added, and font families were updated to include S comma below and T comma below characters.

Unfortunately some older fonts have some problems with S-comma below and T-comma below characters, comma is not below the S and T letter, is part of the letter. This happens also on Windows 7.

The two characters are part of Unicode's "Latin Extended-B":

I have done a simple test, to see how many fonts (from the Latin Windows fonts) have the S and T comma below characters with actual comma below symbol.

The simple test consists in a webpage rendered Internet Explorer 8 and 9 on Windows 7 with normal font size (96dpi) and with large font size (120dpi).

The test includes besides the Romanian characters (ĂÂÎȘȚăâîșț) also the "deprecated" S and T cedilla characters (ŞŢşţ) and S and T dot below characters (ṢṬṣṭ).

Test pages and screenshots for Internet Explorer 8, 9 and Firefox 5 can be found here. The results for 96dpi are presented below:
"Franklin Gothic Medium" is the only font which does not have S and T comma below characters.
"Tahoma", "Segoe UI" and "Microsoft Sans Serif" have S and T dot below characters which have the dot separated for the 9pt and 8pt font sizes, which is not true for S and T comma below characters.

The same test pages on Windows 7 with large fonts (120dpi) displayed correctly the comma for all fonts (except Franklin Gothic Medium).

Internet Explorer 9 comes with a new font renderer (using DirectWrite and Direct2D APIs) which reveals another problem with the S and T comma below characters. The comma below from S is different from the one under T, as seen in the images below:

Tahoma has a problem with A-Breve (ă), in the bold form, breve is slightly shifted to the right:


S and T cedilla characters, even tough not correct from the Romanian language point of view, are still heavily used in many documents / web pages etc. It is important that the cedilla should be drawn the same for S and T. This is not true for all Windows 7 fonts.

Firefox starting with version 4 includes locale dependent text rendering, which means that if you have the Romanian locale set the S and T cedilla characters will be automatically rendered with S and T comma below characters. Not all the Windows 7 fonts come with this locale information. Read more about this feature on Wikipedia.

The results for S and T cedilla are illustrated below:

As you have seen there is room for improvement when it comes to Romanian language support on Windows.

5 comments:

Anonymous said...

Good post. It's great to see all these Romanian language font features summarized.

One correction: Firefox does not replace characters, it just replaces the rendering. The characters stay the same (i.e., old cedilla bellow code points) so search will not work.

It's not Firefox's fault, though. In my opinion, the OpenType locl feature should not be used to change the rendering for Romanian.

Cristian Adam said...

I've updated the article. Thank you for commenting.

The OpenType locl feature would be nice if it would be supported by all fonts and coupled with search support in Firefox (see bug report #670601)

Sorin Sbarnea said...

Nice work! I invite you to add your findings to the wiki like spreadsheet I made few months ago.

This spreadsheet is result of the work of several people and it should be/became a reference regarding support for romanian fonts across different platforms.

https://docs.google.com/spreadsheet/ccc?key=0AuAbgmBsosYRdHk3ZldBTmhrVGJHYmJNSW1uUUlhbnc&authkey=CMKesOYE&hl=en_US&authkey=CMKesOYE#gid=0

Cosmin DÎGĂ said...

Salut Cristi, o mica modificare in articol: below e cuvantul cautat, nu bellow [1]

Felicitari pentru articol, a iesit un lucru ce poate fi recomandat cu placere.


[1] http://fcmistakes.blogspot.com/2009/01/below-vs-bellow.html

Cristian Adam said...

Am actualizat articolul, mulțumesc.