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Rendering Chinese Language Characters on the World-Wide Web

You are here: irt.org | Articles | World Wide Web (WWW) | Rendering Chinese Language Characters on the World-Wide Web [ previous next ]

Published on: Friday 20th November 1998 By: Pankaj Kamthan

Chinese Characters And Encoding Methods

Chinese language environment usually uses two kinds of encoding systems:

Most of the WWW-support for Chinese (either Traditional or Simplified) is in these two encoding systems. There are services available that will convert Chinese characters to image files. See, for example, Convert CJK URL to GIF at http://yumj.kek.jp/www/hz.html. Recently released Yahoo! Chinese at http://chinese.yahoo.com/ contains links to the sites that are encoded in Big5, GB, and Gif.

Viewing Chinese Language Characters

Platforms With Chinese Windows 95/NT

Microsoft does produce Chinese Windows 95/NT for both GB and Big5 versions. Please contact your local software dealers for pricing and availability.

Microsoft Internet Explorer

If you have Chinese version of Microsoft Internet Explorer installed, then all you need is to change the Fonts in the View menu to Chinese (Auto Select). (There seems to be a problem in installing English version of Microsoft Internet Explorer on Chinese Windows 95/NT.) You can obtain a copy of Microsoft Internet Explorer at http://www.microsoft.com/ie/logo.asp

Netscape Communicator

If you have Netscape Communicator (English/Chinese version) installed, it does not require any supplementary software to display Chinese characters. All you need is to change the Encoding in the View menu to Traditional Chinese (Big5) or Simplified Chinese (GB2312). You can obtain a copy of Netscape Communicator at http://home.netscape.com/comprod/products/communicator/index.html.

Even if you have a Chinese Windows 95/NT, you may still need Chinese Add-Ons (such as the Chinese Language Support from Microsoft) for help. This is because your version can only deal with one code, either GB or Big5. (So, for example, if your system has Windows GB version, you can't read a page written in Big5.) The side effect of this is that your menu titles may become unreadable if the code you selected for the add-on is different from your default system.

Platforms With Chinese Unix/X Window System

The process is similar to that of the previous section, though, we haven't used such an environment extensively.

Platforms With English Windows 95/NT

In order to view information that is encoded in Chinese, you need to install a Chinese program or font system on your platform. According to FAQ on Chinese on the WWW, (in Chinese), if you are using Windows 3.X or Windows 95, then it's best to use RichWin for internet, since it supports GB, Big5, HZ and so on. However, if you are using Windows NT, then, you can use ΅ΨΗς΄ε (EarthVillage), UnionWay, NJSTAR. You can also use RichWin for NT. However, it does not support HZ encoding.

To view Chinese on NT 4.0, you can use RichWin for NT, UnionWay, Earth Village, or NJStar.

To view HZ and Big5 encodings, you can use RichWin for internet, UnionWay, EarthVillage, or NJSTAR.

Please read carefully the License Agreement of each company before downloading the software.

Microsoft Internet Explorer

If you are on a Windows 95 platform and have the English version of Microsoft Internet Explorer, then all you need is to download and install (usually just one step) the Chinese Language Support for the browser from Microsoft. (There seems to be a problem in installing Chinese version of Microsoft Internet Explorer on English Windows 95/NT.) Then all you need is to change the Fonts in the View menu to Chinese (Auto Select).

Besides Microsoft's fonts, there are other fonts that are available: UnionWay fonts and Bitstream Cyberbit Unicode Font.

Windows NT theoretically doesn't need any add-on to display Chinese since it has build-in support for double byte characters (such as Chinese). You do need, however, to install the language package that comes with the Windows NT CD-ROM. This package, LANGPACK,  includes NT Chinese fonts (BIG5 usually, US version also has GB fonts). The set-up information file is TCHINESE.INF. For those without the NT 4.0 CD, you can download GB fonts (from IFCSS or CND) which are in a file called ie3lpkcn.exe and BIG5 fonts (from IFCSS or CND) which are in a file called ie3lpktw.exe. (The limitation of this is that it can only display one language and one encoding scheme. Thus, you will need to have a Chinese system add-on to display other language encodings. Due to the strict security restrictions in Windows NT, few programs are able to do this. RichWin has claimed to fully support Windows NT. NJStar can support only 16-bit applications running under Windows NT.) Once done, you can install the English version of Microsoft Internet Explorer and change the Fonts in the View menu to Chinese (Auto Select) to view the documents.

Netscape Communicator

Netscape Communicator's support for viewing Chinese/Japanese/Korean HTML on US Windows 95 and NT 4.0 using Bitstream Cybertbit fonts at ftp://ftp.bitstream.com/cyberbit/cyberbit.exe to view Chinese text. You can also obtain:

Then carry out the following steps:

  1. Select Preferences... item under Edit menu.

  2. Select the Fonts tab.

  3. Select the language you want to set font in the For the Encoding selection. For example, "Chinese".

  4. Select the font you installed in Variable Width Font.

  5. Repeat the same for Fixed Width Font.

  6. Click OK to close the Fonts Preferences box. You need to close the Fonts Preference box every time you set up a font for a particular language.

There is also partial support for HTML Forms:

NJWIN

A useful alternative to installing browser-specific font support on your platform, is to use NJWIN Multilingual Support System at http://www.njstar.com/. NJWIN is designed to enable any windows program to display and print Chinese characters under the English Windows 95 environment. That includes Microsoft Internet Explorer and Netscape Communicator. Most of the present Chinese coding standards are supported in NJWIN, and coding can be switched on the fly from one coding to another depending on the document being viewed.

NJWIN Interface:

A Comparison of Chinese Systems is given at http://WWW.Cathay.Net/help/ms-win.html.

Platforms With English Unix/X Window System

Microsoft Internet Explorer

Currently, Chinese language support for Microsoft Internet Explorer on UNIX systems does not exist. Also, the only UNIX platform for which Microsoft Internet Explorer is available is Sun Solaris.You can keep yourself aware of the new developments via the Internet Explorer WWW site at http://www.microsoft.com/ie/logo.asp.

Netscape Communicator

To set your Netscape Communicator (UNIX/X Window System version) to recognize Chinese characters do the following: from the menu bar on Netscape Communicator select View menu and set Encoding to Traditional Chinese (Big5) or Simplified Chinese (GB2312). If the Chinese fonts are not installed on your client, then you (or your system administrator) will have to install them. They could be downloaded from the following sites:

Then carry out the following steps:

  1. Place *.bdf files into a directory, say chinese-fonts. (You can save space by doing the following:
    bdftopcf font-file.bdf > font-file.pcf

    deleting the *.bdf files and then running mkfontdir.)

  2. In the X Window System initialization file (such as .xinitrc), add
    xset fp+ /path-to-chinese-fonts/

EMACS

GNU Emacs is one of the most powerful text-based editors in use today with ports for many operating systems including, Windows 95 and UNIX. There is also a Chinese version of Emacs, cemacs that runs inside Chinese version of xterm, cxterm. With W3 mode it can function as a WWW browser and if you also need to write Chinese (for example, to fill out a form), you can run Emacs W3 inside cemacs inside cxterm, in either Big5 or GB mode.

LYNX

Lynx is a widely-used text-based browser. One can run Lynx inside cxterm, in either Big5 or GB mode.

Creating Chinese Language Characters

If you want to be able to type Chinese, or if you want to view Chinese in programs other than browsers, there are various word processors that can create Chinese characters. For those who have Chinese Windows 95 on their system can use, for example, Microsoft Word 97 to create Chinese documents and save them as HTML files. For those with English Windows 95, there are many commercial and freely available word processors. See the list of references. For example, using NJStar Chinese WP, one can create Chinese documents and save them as HTML files.

Acknowledgements

Hsueh-Ieng Pai was very helpful with her critical reading. She also provided links to various resources.

References

Chinese Text Encoding On The WWW

Chinese/English Dictionary

Macintosh

If you use Macintosh, you can try the resources in the following links or buy the Chinese Language Kit:

Chinese Language Word Processors For English Windows 95/NT

Unix/X

Chinese WWW Sites : General

Usenet

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