Adobe-Japan1-6 Turns 20 Years Old

The Adobe-Japan1-6 Character Collection, which has become the de facto glyph set for today’s mainstream OpenType Japanese fonts, celebrates its 20th anniversary this year. This glyph set began its life in 1992, as Adobe-Japan1-0 (Supplement 0). Given that I have been at Adobe longer than 20 years, and was involved in the development of this glyph set, I will use this opportunity to detail some of its history, at least as seen through my eyes.

Adobe-Japan1-6 began by coalescing into a single collection the glyphs used in our OCF (Original Composite Format) font. Adobe Tech Note #5031 (Kanji Glyph Collections And Glyph Sets), dated November 12, 1990, details the OCF glyph set. Note that this Adobe Tech Note, as a scanned document because the original document sources are long gone, is attached to Adobe Tech Note #5078 (The Adobe-Japan1-6 Character Collection) for historical purposes. The end result was a collection of 8,284 glyphs (CIDs 0–8283). Given that the engineers who determined the glyph ordering for Supplement 0 are no longer at Adobe, I can safely state that I still wonder what was going through their minds. The ordering of some of the glyphs, particular at the end of the glyph set, is somewhat odd. I am sure that they had their reasons. I will stop my complaining here, because doing so will not change anything. I am responsible for the glyph ordering for all subsequent Supplements, meaning 1 through 6, so at least everyone now knows who to blame.

Supplements 1 and 2 were defined at the same time, sometime during 1993, and were implemented as separate Supplements simply because it was thought that some fonts might support only the glyphs in Supplement 1 (75 additional glyphs: CIDs 8284–8358) and not those in Supplement 2 (361 additional glyphs: CIDs 8359–8719). The primary purpose of Supplement 2 was to support the IBM extensions for JIS X 0208.

Supplement 3 (634 additional glyphs: CIDs 8720–9353) was defined in September of 1998, in the very early days of OpenType. Its purpose was to add pre-rotated forms of all glyphs that were not full-width, which meant proportional and half-width glyphs, which are made accessible via the OpenType ‘vrt2‘ GSUB feature.

Supplement 4 (6,090 additional glyphs: CIDs 9354–15443), which was declared final on February 21, 2000, was the first time that one of our CJK glyph sets leaped beyond coverage of character set standards, and intended to include glyphs that are deemed important for professional and commercial publishing. Thus, Adobe-Japan1-4 fonts were the first to use the “Pro” designator in their names. It was quite an undertaking, which involved working with several key Japanese type foundries, such as Asahi Shimbun, Dainippon Screen, Fontworks, Morisawa, Motoya, and TypeBank, along with experts, such as Yasushi Naoi (直井靖). I keep a thick stack of papers and notes that detail much of the work, and from time to time I consult this stack to find answers to obscure questions. I even kept its three drafts, dated June 1, 1999, August 7, 1999, and November 5, 1999.

Supplement 5 (4,873 additional glyphs: CIDs 15444–20316) was declared final in September of 2002, and primarily involved working with Apple, to turn their APGS (Apple Publishing Glyph Set) into what would become Adobe-Japan1-5. I worked very closely with Yasuo Kida (木田泰夫) of Apple during this project. Another goal of Adobe-Japan1-5 included complete coverage of JIS X 0213:2000, which was also a goal of APGS.

Supplement 6 (2,741 glyphs: CIDs 20317–23057), which is the latest and greatest, was declared final on March 5, 2004. The two goals of Adobe-Japan1-6, besides ensuring support of JIS X 0213:2004, was to complete support for JIS X 0212-1990, which had the side effect of obsoleting, and subsequently deprecating, the Adobe-Japan2-0 character collection. Supporting the U-PRESS character set was also a goal, and naturally, almost immediately after Adobe-Japan1-6 was finalized, a small number of characters were added to U-PRESS.

Although there is no schedule at this time, I have already begun (very) preliminary work on Supplement 7, which mainly amounts to maintaining a list of glyph candidates (such as the characters that were subsequently added to U-PRESS).

Please join me in celebrating the first 20 years of Adobe-Japan1-6!

One Response to Adobe-Japan1-6 Turns 20 Years Old

  1. Philip Newton says:

    Congratulations and happy birthday, Adobe-Japan1-6!