Emulating the character set of the ZX80 and ZX81

Emulator and emulator development specific topics
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kkkllleee
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Emulating the character set of the ZX80 and ZX81

Post by kkkllleee » Wed Jun 14, 2017 6:42 pm

Hi, my name is Eduardo and I'm not a software developer, but what I have to say may impact the way emulators for these computers work.
I like making character proposals to the Unicode Consortium, they regulate what goes into the Universal Character set, to support text processing of all languages in the world in a single platform as well as allowing corruption free conversions. They also include several technical symbols including these bad boys: http://unicode.org/charts/PDF/U2580.pdf, you would recognize many of them from the character set of the computers, however there are some missing: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/ZX80_character_set characters 10, 11, 139 and 138 are not in the standard.
I could just propose them as they are but in order to be approved I need to show a need from the user community.

So my questions to all of you:
  • Will you benefit of having dedicated characters for these block elements?
  • Do you regularly use those characters in your text documents made on the computer or emulator?
  • How do emulators handle the absence of the characters?
  • Do you have text documents with the aforementioned characters that you would like to share on other platforms?
With your answers my proposal is more likely to be accepted.

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Paul
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Re: Emulating the character set of the ZX80 and ZX81

Post by Paul » Wed Jun 14, 2017 8:09 pm

Emulators normally use Graphics instead of charactersets for Zeddy screens.
But we could very urgently need these missing characters.
We have PC-Programs like the ZX-IDE that make use of these charactersets and are missing these. So if you enter Zeddy code with Zeddy graphic characters these are missing and cannot be used. Its a framework for Basic and machinecode development for the ZX80 and ZX81.
Also we use programs that convert zeddy output to text, again these characters don't work.
And more important we also have Text2P.exe which converts PC text into working Zeddy Programs again with these characters missing.
So anytime we want to access these we have additional manual work to do to correct the missing charcters (if possible).

Thats why these characters would be very helpful to keep out ZX80 and ZX81 community active for even longer.

Kind regards
Paul
In theory, there is no difference between theory and practice. But, in practice, there is.

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1024MAK
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Re: Emulating the character set of the ZX80 and ZX81

Post by 1024MAK » Wed Jun 14, 2017 9:44 pm

That's a very helpful and good reply Paul. So much so, I not sure that I can think of anything else to add.

I agree that not having the full ZX81 character set means we have to use workarounds. If the missing characters were added, it would make displaying source BASIC listings and screen output much more straightforward. Plus exchange of listings (or extracts) would then be possible via email and via web sites. As well as on forums that support Unicode.

Mark

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PokeMon
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Re: Emulating the character set of the ZX80 and ZX81

Post by PokeMon » Thu Jun 15, 2017 4:26 pm

Paul wrote:
Wed Jun 14, 2017 8:09 pm
We have PC-Programs like the ZX-IDE that make use of these charactersets and are missing these. So if you enter Zeddy code with Zeddy graphic characters these are missing and cannot be used. Its a framework for Basic and machinecode development for the ZX80 and ZX81.
I do not agree in this point.
Graphic characters can be used while simply pressing ALT-9 (Graphics like on ZX81) from the top line.
Graphic mode is automatically activated if a BASIC or assembly file already contains graphic chars (non-ascii). ;)
Bildschirmfoto 2017-06-15 um 17.28.34.png
Bildschirmfoto 2017-06-15 um 17.28.34.png (76.39 KiB) Viewed 243 times

kkkllleee
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Re: Emulating the character set of the ZX80 and ZX81

Post by kkkllleee » Thu Jun 15, 2017 8:12 pm

PokeMon wrote:
Thu Jun 15, 2017 4:26 pm
Paul wrote:
Wed Jun 14, 2017 8:09 pm
We have PC-Programs like the ZX-IDE that make use of these charactersets and are missing these. So if you enter Zeddy code with Zeddy graphic characters these are missing and cannot be used. Its a framework for Basic and machinecode development for the ZX80 and ZX81.
I do not agree in this point.
Graphic characters can be used while simply pressing ALT-9 (Graphics like on ZX81) from the top line.
Graphic mode is automatically activated if a BASIC or assembly file already contains graphic chars (non-ascii). ;)

Bildschirmfoto 2017-06-15 um 17.28.34.png
But is it an elegant solution? Encoding those characters would mean you wouldn't need to ever switch to graphic mode, is that not desirable?

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PokeMon
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Re: Emulating the character set of the ZX80 and ZX81

Post by PokeMon » Thu Jun 15, 2017 10:28 pm

Well - maybe not elegant but it is a solution.
I do switch only once to graphic mode when I need those characters.
If a file contains these characters, it is switched automatically on.
On the other hand one could switch this always on - this was just a matter of choice.

Having those characters in the UTF charset is only half the battle.
You need font files containing these and other characters.
And last but not least, how would you enter those characters in an elegant way if not printed on the keyboard ?
A help file or maybe a selection bar at the top or bottom of a page like my solution ? 8-)

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XavSnap
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Re: Emulating the character set of the ZX80 and ZX81

Post by XavSnap » Fri Jun 16, 2017 12:30 am

:?

Regards the Zx81 police, Vb81 is designed to run text files, using a special char table.

We .... Windows users ... had to install the ZX81's police and use it on the note-pad.
To create a listing, just copy and paste the right character from a char text example file.
Save"myprogram.txt" in the emulator will generate a text file easily editable.
:mrgreen:

I was alone to use it!

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