Unicode support in Data Master 2003

Plans for support of Far Eastern languages (Chinese, Japanese, Korean etc) in the future versions of DM2003.

Like many other popular technical graphics applications, at present Data Master 2003 can not properly handle text in Far Eastern languages that require Unicode support. Unicode is a new standard specification for encoding all of the characters and symbols of all of the worlds written languages for storage, retrieval, and display by digital computers. Unlike older standards like ASCII, it can unambiguously encode any existing symbols in any language without character mapping mechanism known as code pages. However, Unicode requires more bits for symbol representation - it depends on so-called Unicode Transformation Format. As a result, binary implementation of basic Char and String types must be changed, and migration of the large existing code base may take significant efforts.

First tests of Unicode-enabled DM2003 versions give very optimistic results: the application may be compiled with a few minor changes, and now it is possible to enter text in the data windows and Notes using any combination of any alphabets. This may be a valuable feature for those people who would like to use their native language, for example, to make a graphs for presentations, or just to describe their data in a more natural and convenient manner. You can see results on the screenshot below (sorry if the text seems to be inappropriate - for testing purposes I just copy and paste random characters from xinhuanet.com home page).

Data Master 2003 with Unicode support

However, migration to the new Unicode-enabled versions of the development environment and system libraries (which is, in fact, much more challenging than the Unicode support itself) will take some time and I'd like to know whether it is really important for DM2003 users. If so, please let me know your opinion by email or via web form interface.

Update 10.05.2011

Now you can test Unicode-enabled DM2003.EXE in action! This is however not a regular setup, so you should first install ANSI version and then apply this patch. Just overwrite DM2003.EXE in the installation folder with a file from this archive (probably you will decide to make a backup copy of the original file). Please keep in mind that Unicode-enabled version introduces new signatures for UI configuration file (config.bin) and desktop files, so that it is impossible to run both versions in parallel. Also, new Unicode desktops cannot be loaded into ANSI version. Notice that Unicode version requires Windows XP OS or newer. If you already have installed previous versions of DM2003 (e.g., you are not required to update.

By default, the application uses Tahoma font that should be Unicode-enabled on some localized versions of Windows. If you want to test Unicode features while in your installation Tahoma is not Unicode-compatible, it is possible to override font name for almost all DM2003 UI. Make a registry key as shown below:

"UnicodeFont"="Arial Unicode MS"

In this example, Arial Unicode MS is a name of Unicode-enabled font widely used in different versions of Windows and other Microsoft products, and you can use any other suitable font available on your computer.

In future, MetaBase, Script Editor and scripter.dll are scheduled for migration, while mathematical units and DMForms.OCX probably will remain ANSI-compatible. All these plans will strongly depend on the feedback from users.