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Document Formats

Document Format

A document format is the combination of text encoding(D- - 8) and format codes(D- - 3) used in a document file. You most likely have experience with various English word processor document formats, and have used a conversion utility or import filter to open or import a document made on one word processor into another. This utility tries to convert the format codes used in the document into the format codes used in the word processor.

With Asian language documents, the situation is even more complex because not only are there format codes to worry about, the text encoding is variable in two specific ways: encoding method(D- - 3), and symbol set(D- - 7).

Japanese Document Formats are Easy

Taking the lead for standardization, the Japanese have developed a system specifying only two basic encoding methods: Shin JIS(D- - 7) and Shift JIS(D- - 7). These methods share one standard symbol set(D- - 7) called JIS levels(D- - 5) I, II and III. In addition, westerners have come up with two related formats, here called Escape JIS(D- - 3) and Unix Japanese(D- - 8). Proprietary format codes(D- - 3) can cause incorrect or additional characters in a document converted from a Japanese word processor, but all Japanese word processors we have tested can read and display an unformatted JIS document converted from Smart Characters.

In some cases, a document's format codes get in the way of conversion, and the result is really a new document format(7- 2), such as the Fujitsu Oasis document format. Some manufacturers have chosen to not follow a standard, making their products incompatible and their customers captive.

Smart Characters Document Format

Because Smart Characters supports multiple languages with annotations, the extra information contained in the Smart Characters document file cannot be converted to less comprehensive formats without loss. Although Smart Characters supports most symbol set(D- - 7), native Chinese standards do not support Japanese characters, and vice versa. No native format supports annotations, so they cannot be exported without losing their relationship to the text.

Chinese Use Two Main Formats

The Big Five(D- - 1) (Big-5) traditional and GuoBiao(D- - 4) (GB) simplified(4- 10) Chinese standards are widely used, but various other formats exist as well. If you run into one of these, Apropos can try to assist you in your document conversions. Contact Apropos Customer Service(F- - 1) for details.

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Last Modified: March 23, 1996

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