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Asia and Pacific Region Forum

Wading into deep water
Please test my first Chinese page

 12:51 am on Dec 3, 2001 (gmt 0)

I run a non-commercial academic website, and have been trying to develop a set of introductory pages in various languages. The main site will remain in English, but I am trying to have other-language pages that will let people know what is available in the English-language sections of the site (and am grateful for much help from everyone here already).

Today I have waded into really deep water and put up a page in Chinese. The translation was done by a colleague who is a native speaker, so I'm sure the language is good (though there may have been a special term or two that were hard). But this is my first foray into non-Roman character sets, and I don't have the best support on my own machines, so I would be *very* grateful to any of you who could check this page (Simplified Chinese GB encoding) and tell me how it looks:

Introduction to the Collegiate Way Website in Chinese [collegiateway.org]

I have tested it in a limited way; I think some of the things that weren't displaying correctly for me were problems with my configuration, not with the page itself. For example, a copyright symbol at the bottom left was wrong (I think that was my display problem), and with iCab the page often froze when loading the counter script at the end of the page - that may be a serious problem, and if that happens to anyone please let me know.

Many thanks to anyone with Asian script support (and especially Chinese speakers) who can take a moment to look at the page. If you wish to look at the English original you may also do so (http://collegiateway.org/temptrans.html). I leave that link dead here because it will soon disappear.

Thanks! -Bob O'Hara



 2:57 am on Dec 3, 2001 (gmt 0)

I can't read Chinese, so I'm not going to be able to proof anything for you, but as far as page display goes I didn't have any problems with the version 6 browsers...IE 6.02, Netscape 6.2, Opera 6. However, I didn't have much luck with older versions of Netscape 4.x and 3.x. I couldn't get the pages to display properly in those browsers.

Other than the older browser problem, the page looks fine. I viewed this on an English Win2K workstation with Asian script enabled.


 2:59 am on Dec 3, 2001 (gmt 0)

Hi Bob,

I have Chinese support on my browser and your page comes up fine, although I have no idea what it says. But then that is a user error rather than machine error. The copyright symbol also comes up fine. Let us know how sucessful it is.

Um, if you don't have Chinese on your machine, how did you construct the html???


Boy!, you've got to be quick to beat Bill...


 7:03 am on Dec 3, 2001 (gmt 0)

>>Um, if you don't have Chinese on your machine, how did you construct the html???

I patched together various utilities to get it to work. I work on an old Mac running system 8.5. I understand that all the Asian script work is really easy with OS X, but...

I found two free/shareware utilities that will do the work, in case anyone else wants to give it a try with this kind of equipment. PanALE/UniText is a simple CJK text editor that works quite well. My foreign language pages are all built around the same HTML template, so I just copied it into PanALE/UniText. My Chinese colleague typed the translation on his own Chinese word processor (some Wintel thing) and emailed a "text only" version to me as an attachment. PanALE/UniText could open this right up, and then it was just a matter of cutting and pasting the markup in the right places.

Being able to view it in my old browser (I'm still one of those people using Netscape 4.x) was also possible, but not at the same time. There's a nice utility called Elixir that will let you easily view CJK webpages in Mac Netscape 4 (doesn't seem to work with Mac IE 5). The problem I discovered was that PanALE and Elixir conflict somehow, so I had to get the HTML all finished in PanALE, ftp it to the website, turn PanALE off, restart the machine, and then view the result with Elixir.

I don't think anybody really wanted to know all that. ;-) But it does show what is possible with an old configuration. Someday I'll have an honest job and a new computer.


 7:33 am on Dec 3, 2001 (gmt 0)

Phew! Makes me tired just trying to figure it all out. My hat goes off to you sir.

BTW, I was/am using Win98/IE5.01



 1:27 pm on Dec 3, 2001 (gmt 0)

"I don't think anybody really wanted to know all that. ;-)"

I did...I've got Bengali and Hindi coming up in the near future...and I'm always looking for new ways of dealing with non-western languages


 7:03 am on Dec 4, 2001 (gmt 0)

I'm always looking for new ways of dealing with non-western languages

I started a thread about this here [webmasterworld.com].


 8:15 am on Dec 4, 2001 (gmt 0)

Based on some comments I have gotten from various quarters I've made a tweak or two to my Chinese page. One person was having trouble and thought it had to do with the css linked to the page, so I've made a special css file for this Chinese page, listing what I understand to be the most common GB fonts and increasing the leading. I want more control over the Roman text embedded in the Chinese, but that may have to wait for Unicode some day. The revised page is at:


If interested parties would compare that with /index2-zh.html (the original one, now renamed) and let me know if they see a difference I'd be grateful. Hopefully the revised one has slightly better appearance.

Also, the blockquote at the beginning of the page is set in smaller type, as would be common in English. Would that be common practice in Chinese? And my translator put quotation marks around it; in English one would not do that if it is set off in small type as a blockquote. Anyone know the Chinese convention for this?



 8:54 am on Dec 4, 2001 (gmt 0)

um...index2-zh.html brings me to a Page Not Found...you might want to try index-zh2.html instead.

most common GB fonts
Care to share? I used to have a copy of Chinese Windows 95, but someone who actually spoke and read Chinese needed it, so I had to give it up. All I have to rely on now are the Chinese fonts Microsoft gave me in Win2K...and I doubt they're the same ones used in China

Unfortunately, due to this, I can't discern much difference between the two pages you linked to. The Chinese fonts look the same to me. I'm sure a native OS with more than one font installed will produce dramatically better results :) index-zh2.html does render the English fonts better.


 9:04 am on Dec 4, 2001 (gmt 0)

Seems like I am following Bill again....

Bob, the new page renders fine on my machine aswell. In fact either look fine, the newer one renders the quotation as little smaller and condensed but otherwise no problems.

I think Chinese quotation marks are little circles like this but you might want to check with your translator. I don't see that as a major challenge though as I am sure your readers will understand.

>most common GB fonts
I can't remember but will try to find out. I do remember seeing the same font names on this system as the Chinese one but will check top make sure. I would imagine they are all the same as that would be the logical thing to do. Yeah, I know, being logical doens't mean it applies...



 9:18 am on Dec 4, 2001 (gmt 0)

One extra point...
index-zh.html renders for me in Netscape 4.75...the old one index-zh2.html comes up as a bunch of boxes...so the work you did on the css was worth it!


 9:20 am on Dec 4, 2001 (gmt 0)

>> index2-zh.html brings me to a Page Not Found...you might want to try index-zh2.html instead.

Oops, my typo. I duplicated another one and named it /index2-zh.html, so now the old version is available two places. The revised one to compare to these older versions is still:


Bill, are you saying the Roman type looks better on the old version that the new? :(

Re: fonts. I just searched Google and read a bunch of pages, and it seems that the most common Chinese Simplified (GB) fonts are named "MS Song" "MS Hei" and "Simsun". (And you can guess what MS stands for.) My reading is that these are the GB Chinese counterparts to, say, Georgia, Palatino, etc.; ones you can count on to be pretty much universal. MS Hei is supposed to be a black-style gothic face, whatever that might mean in Chinese (a broader brush, perhaps). But I don't have them on my machine as far as I know, so can't say. But when I added the new style sheet it did seem to sharpen things a bit and improve the spacing; I'm not sure why. Need more machines here to experiment on, alas.


 9:28 am on Dec 4, 2001 (gmt 0)

Bill, are you saying the Roman type looks better on the old version that the new?
Unfortunately, yes. The old page looks to me like the English used in the body is Times New Roman, while the English in the newer page seems to be in the Chinese font. Oddly enough, the text at the top of the page looks like it retained the Verdana-ish font in both versions. I doubt this will be an issue for your Chinese viewers though. ;)

Yippieeee I'm a Senior Member now!


 9:39 am on Dec 4, 2001 (gmt 0)

Yes, non Chinese languages always look better in fonts you would normally use on an English machine than in the Chiese fonts as they seem to have a very poor version of Courier as the default English font. So you might want to do a bit of tweaking there Bob for the English.

As to fonts, those Fonts are certainly the ones installed on the Chinese OS. Also, when I upgraded IE5.0 to IE5.01 SP2 I installed all the Asian fonts so they are on my machine as well. This would tend to support my "common font" theory.

Bill, congrats. I'll talk to Brett about your pension plan...


 1:25 pm on Dec 4, 2001 (gmt 0)

Woz tell Brett I'm partial to tropical Asian beachfront property...:) does this mean I won't have to work anymore?

I like Woz's description of that font..."a poor version of Courier"...It just doesn't look right. Maybe you could specify a sans-serif font family within the CSS to get a more Arial look to the English?

Woz you said you installed the Asian fonts...are you just referring to the IE default installed fonts, or did you add a separate package?

Win2K installs Asian fonts off the CD, not Windows Update, so I'm wondering if we have the same font sets.


 1:44 pm on Dec 4, 2001 (gmt 0)

>Woz you said you installed the Asian fonts

My laptop is stuck at Win98 until I source the Win2k drivers which is on the "get 'round 2it" pile. Office 2k can install Asian fonts but I didn't at that stage. When you upgrade IE to 5.01SP2 you have the option to install Asian fonts, and I just ticked them all.

As IE5.01 is fairly recent in the scheme of things, I can only assume they would be the same as Win2k and onwards.


Asian beachfront property - join the queue!


 1:00 am on Dec 5, 2001 (gmt 0)

Final tweaks:

OK, thanks to all your help, I'm farily satisfied with how this first attempt at a page in Chinese has turned out. I have made some last tweaks that you can check: the page now has its own stylesheet that increases the leading a bit throughout, the English text in the small navigation bar at top should be something like Verdana (sans), and the English phrases elsewhere should be a decent serif font (maybe Palatino, but something else may be substituted). If your browser displays link titles as a "tool tip", put your mouse over each of the links on the page and you should get the title of the link in English (IE5 will do that). Current and near-final version of the page:


Old version with poorer leading and other problems under the old stylesheet is now /index2-zh.html

Last questions:

1. Do the Chinese characters in the small top navbar get muddy when scaled down this way?

2. I've added two typographic niceties to the English text that may not display correctly: there should be an em-dash in front of Benjamin Jowett's name (common practice for an epigraph in English); and in the English name "St. John's" and in my own punctuated name at the bottom I put in a true curved apostrophe, rather than an ugly typewriter ' mark. I bet the em-dash and the apostrophe don't display and/or space correctly, yes?


 6:08 am on Dec 5, 2001 (gmt 0)

Gave up on the curved apostrophes for now. They seem to render as double-width Chinese characters, and so leave a very odd-looking space in the English text. Also gave up on the English em-dash, but found a Chinese dash character that seems to display well, so stuck that in instead.


 1:37 am on Dec 6, 2001 (gmt 0)

Bob, I think you've done a good job smoothing out the rough spots...want to do my Chinese sites for me?;)

The English fonts render nicely, and the spacing on the Chinese looks fine.

One thing you might want to check though is in the CSS I see you have used "MS Song", "MS Hei", "Simsun" for font declaration. That works fine for me, but have you tested this with someone who has a real Chinese OS? When I work on a Japanese OS I know that all of the font names are in Japanese. The fonts added by the Microsoft Global IME for Japanese are always in roman letters. It would be interesting to see if a Chinese OS would display these fonts or just end up presenting the user with a default font. Since you've gone to so much trouble tweaking the page I thought you'd probably be interested to look into this as well.


 6:49 am on Dec 6, 2001 (gmt 0)

>>Bob, I think you've done a good job smoothing out the rough spots...want to do my Chinese sites for me?

I have no doubt it would pay better than my day job. :) But remember, I can't read a word of it; I'm just the markup guy in this case.

>>One thing you might want to check though is in the CSS I see you have used "MS Song", "MS Hei", "Simsun" for font declaration. That works fine for me, but have you tested this with someone who has a real Chinese OS?

No, and that is something I want to do. I found those names as common ones, and in poking through some real Chinese sites I did find some font names listed in Chinese characters; have no idea what they might look like. I need to see a (gif) table of all these things. I'm going to try asking over in c.i.w.a.s., unless anyone here happens to be an expert in Chinese css.


 10:07 pm on Dec 6, 2001 (gmt 0)

Although I am better with Hong Kong slang, the page looks clean and clear with the bulleted description. I like the way how you refer to the English web site, and still present all the links and description in Chinese.


 3:14 am on Dec 7, 2001 (gmt 0)

I'm a native Chinese speaker and I'm using WinME Chinese Simplified with IE 5.5. I can't see any problem in the page display.


 4:12 am on Dec 7, 2001 (gmt 0)

maoley welcome to WebmasterWorld!

Could you tell us what some of the popular default fonts are on Chinese Windows? Could you post the Chinese names of these fonts?

We really appreciate your input on this!


 4:34 am on Dec 7, 2001 (gmt 0)

>>Could you tell us what some of the popular default fonts are on Chinese Windows? Could you post the Chinese names of these fonts?

I would also be very interested in this information. I've heard conflicing opinions on whether css font specification makes sense at all in Chinese, although when I explore some Chinese pages I do find fonts specified; a main question is whether a fallback category like "serif" or "sans-serif" has any meaning or exists at all (and what happens if you do or don't include it). If you look at the css file I made for my page:


you can seen the English names of the fonts I specified, and above them I just added in a comment line some Chinese font names I have found on other sites; I have no idea what they look like, however.

Many thanks for checking the page, and I'm very encouraged to hear that it displays well.


 4:06 am on Dec 8, 2001 (gmt 0)

Following up my own last question, if you look at the css for the Yahoo China page:


You will see three GB fonts specified: MS Song, Beijing, and a name in Chinese. MS Song I have since learned is the Microsoft standard "book face" that you get if you visit the page and it tells you you need to download a Chinese (GB) font. Beijing is the Apple equivalent that comes with Apple's Language Kit for GB encoding. I don't know what the one with the Chinese name is, but presumably it's a common one also. So I imagine if you specify those three (as Yahoo does) you will cover most users and browsers.


 4:18 am on Dec 8, 2001 (gmt 0)

Good find Bob, thanks for sharing.



 7:35 am on Dec 12, 2001 (gmt 0)


I am a chinese.
And i think your html page is good enough..


 7:56 am on Dec 12, 2001 (gmt 0)

Hi Yabbi and Welcome to Webmasterworld.

The page looked OK on my screen but I am afraid I cannot read Chinese. I am glad we have now had a number of Chinese speakers compliment Bob's page.

Bob, it looks is if you have cracked this one and have laid a precendent for others to write Chinese pages. Thanks for bringing the subject up.

And once again Yabbi, Xie Xie!



 5:25 am on Dec 15, 2001 (gmt 0)

Interesting discussion here - wish I had not been travelling during this time.

<snipped by Woz - no URLs please>

.... the notes gathered here will certainly be put to good use!

(edited by: Woz at 11:29 pm (gmt) on Dec. 15, 2001)

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