Chinese Character Description Language is a font technology, based on XML, co-created by Tom Bishop and Richard Cook for the Wenlin Institute, designed for describing any CJK character, but suitable for describing any glyph.
This XML-based declarative language actually defines the stroke order of each component (a la a radical), as well as assembly of previously-defined components to build up evermore complex characters. Many of these components are characters in their own right, in addition to serving as building-block components.
The background looks like a square of 128 pixels on each side. In this background:
- Each kind of stroke can be drawn in SVG (more than 50 strokes).
- A basic component is composed by calling several strokes. In this component, each stroke is described by its bottom-left and top-right corner. Transformations are possible (reduction, enlargement, etc.). There are more than 1,000 basic components.
- A character is composed by calling several components. In this character, each component is described by its bottom-left and top-right corner. In order for a component to fit into its proper portion of the Chinese character's rectangular block, a component may be transformed (e.g., horizontal or vertical reduction or enlargement) upon its use as a building-block embedded within a containing more-complex character.
Accordingly, a set of 50 strokes allow one to construct a set of 1,000 components which may in turn be embedded within tens of thousands characters' descriptions. A change in the shape of one of the 50 basic strokes is implicitly applied within each character that embeds that stroke. Likewise, a change to a component is implicitly applied within each character whose assemblage uses that component.
T. Bishop and R. Cook explain this by the words :
- "The stroke count of one character is generally related to the stroke counts of other characters. Most characters are built from components, and as long as the stroke counts of those components are defined, there is rarely any difficulty in adding them together to obtain the combined stroke count. Therefore, if a standard defines the strokes of a few thousand characters, it implicitly defines the strokes of many thousands of additional characters."
As of Spring 2003, over 50,000 Chinese characters had been described via CDL. As of 29 July 2009, 73,254 Chinese characters had been described via CDL.
Read more about this topic: Chinese Character Description Languages
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