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New Hebrew Computer Resources: keyboards and type tips

heb/eng sample from my Tu B'Shvat 'toolkit'I have added two new webpages to support the workshops I will be giving at KlezKanada.

If you haven't added Hebrew resources to your computer and you are running Windows NT or later; MacOS, or Unix, then take a look at my Hebrew Keyboard Layouts page. So far, this is most useful to Windows users, but there are resources for most platforms. Let me know if they are helpful, if you find errors, improvements, etc.

In as succinct and short manner as I was able, I have outlined a few very basic type tips: things you absolutely need to pay attention to if you are doing songsheets, CD notes, or whatever. These rules are going to be new to a lot of people, and they will result in texts that look "funny". That's because usability is generally ignored, and most of the multilingual materials being distributed are dreck—that's a technical term that means "opposite of usable". Still, this stuff is very simple. It follows rules that have been used for thousands of years. We're going to have a short workshop, I think, and that's fine. I like to teach the way O'Reilly used to do books: only for as long as it takes to cover a simple subject.

Quark blows it, again


Or, in my caustic way, I guess I could just say, "Quark blows, again." This isn't even a Hebrew issue.

Working on a new Siddur (prayerbook) project, I decided to create some quick samples of the proposed cover using Quark 4.whatever on my Mac, where most of my fonts reside. I have created a special Hebrew layout for many Hebrew fonts so that, by typing backwards and kerning the vowels into place, I can use them with XPress. What I forgot was that the program doesn't know how to handle OpenType fonts, so when I went to create a PDF to send to the client, I got printing errors. I mention this only because at the recent MacWorld I made a point of stopping by the Quark book and asking if this has been incorporated into the current version. No such luck.

But, I did have a demo of InDesign 2 on the Mac (usually I now use InDesign CS on my Windows machine) which I reinstalled and used to import the Quark file, then to create the desired PDF. Piece of cake.

I wish Quark would do something to make me regret moving on to InDesign and investing in the MiddleEast (i.e., knows how to handle Hebrew) version of same. Actually, maybe I don't wish that, except that I have loved to hate Quark for so many years that it is hard simply moving on with my life and not hassling with the same old issues any more.

New Hebrew Type Blog sponsor

FontWorld logoBack about 15 years ago, the genesis of this weblog was the E-HUG electronic mail newsletter. Originally sent out from my account on the WELL, E-HUG was offered a home at Dartmouth and about 20 issues were sent out around 1990. One of my favorite vendors at the time was FontWorld, run by Mark Seldowitz, who marketed the fonts created by his brother, Israel, who had studied in Israel, the country, with the creator of Hadassah, Henry Friedländer.

FontWorld still sells fonts for just about every world alphabet (including both Hebrew and Arabic fonts). They are also the US source for the Middle Eastern versions of Adobe software (e.g., that version of InDesign that knows from Hebrew and vowels). It is with great pleasure that I announce that they have agreed to sponsor these pages. Their sponsorship gives me an excuse to renew an old friendship, and helps me draw attention to their good work.

Many thanks.

Hebrew using Windows

It can't be type type type, although I wish it could be. At some point I had to spend some time working on tools. Tonight, for instance, I decided to figure out what I did wrong when I moved over to an old Windows2000 box a few months ago.

Hebrew on the Web

I've been researching Hebrew on the web for several months. A friend of mine at Hebrew College asked me to look at several URLs and figure out what he could do to put things online that would be equally accessible under Hebrew-enabled Macs or PCs (or, for that matter, Linux, Unix, whatever). As folks who have done this for years know, this is messy. There are two general standards, the Windows way (charset=Windows-1255), and the supposedly standard way, (charset=iso-8859-8). If you are encoding your pages straight UTF-8, you also take advantage of Unicode. Last year I did some tests with my friend Jack Woehr and we discovered that if you really write Unicode, Hebrew displays fine on Mac and PC using utf-8. This year I got a quick project to get some Hebrew up on the web for "we are the future" and jumped in to see if I could find something simple. The results mostly work on PC, but there are some issues on the Mac, under OS X, using Safari.

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