[sword-devel] Unicode Bible program

Paul Gear sword-devel@crosswire.org
Fri, 25 Feb 2000 06:25:18 +1000

Joel Mawhorter wrote:

> Hello everyone,
> As I've mentioned before on this list, I'm interested in a Bible program that
> can used with languages that are not Latin based (i.e. don't use ASCII or
> ISO-8895 encodings). I have the following options and I would appreciate
> comments on them.
> 1. Find free Bible software that supports Unicode.
> 2. Modify SWORD to support Unicode.
> 3. Create a new Bible program that is focused on Unicode support.

My vote goes to 2: we can make the most impact by combining efforts.  Collaboration
is to be valued more highly than individual effort in this area.

> I've looked for free Bible software that supports Unicode and I haven't been
> able to find any. (If anyone here knows of a program that I've missed, please
> let me know).

There is an effort called JBible.  I don't remember any more about it than that.
Try a search on Google and you'll probably find them.

> Since SWORD is written in C++, Unicode support would have to be done with a third
> party library. Using a library would allow processing of Unicode text but there
> isn't any consistent way to render Unicode text across platforms. I'm not really
> familiar with the SWORD code; would anyone care to comment on how easy it would
> be to subclass SWText to create a Unicode text class? Does anything in the
> parent classes assume 8 bit chars?

I'll leave this to Troy for comment.

> Creating a new program has some potential. Java would be the obvious choice for
> a language since Unicode support is native and it has a standard
> cross-platform way to render Unicode text. Also, new software wouldn't burden
> SWORD with a lot of code that would only be used for Unicode texts. Troy, would
> it be possible to include new software like this under the SWORD umbrella?

Java is cool.  Java is neat.  Java is slow.  I wrote my first prototype frontend in
Java and it killed the machine.  I'd be interested to see how it performs in the new
GCC 2.95 compiler suite.  They have a Java compiler called gcj.  I've downloaded it,
but haven't played around yet.

> I am curious what people think about this. Clearly there is a need for free
> Bible software that handles non-European languages/scripts.

I couldn't agree more.  We need to make this happen so that Christian missions and
non-English-speaking churches can have resources at their disposal without having to
pay through the nose for products that they have no say about.

> What is the best
> way to make it happen?

Find someone to pay you to work on it full time.  ;-)

"He must become greater; i must become less." - John 3:30

P.S.  If people haven't heard, i've shut down my OpenBible project, which was to be
a GNOME frontend for Sword.  See <http://gear.apana.org.au/OpenBible> for details.