Gurmukhi Gap Analysis

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Akshat Joshi (CDAC)
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This document describes and prioritises gaps for the support of languages using the Gurmukhi script on the Web and in eBooks. In particular, it is concerned with text layout. It checks that needed features are supported in W3C specifications, in particular HTML and CSS and those relating to digital publications. It also checks whether the features have been implemented in browsers and ereaders. This is a preliminary analysis.

Status of This Document

This section describes the status of this document at the time of its publication. Other documents may supersede this document. A list of current W3C publications and the latest revision of this technical report can be found in the W3C technical reports index at

This document describes and prioritises gaps for the support of languages using the Gurmukhi script on the Web and in eBooks. In particular, it is concerned with text layout. It checks that needed features are supported in W3C specifications, in particular HTML and CSS and those relating to digital publications. It also checks whether the features have been implemented in browsers and ereaders. This document is linked to from the language matrix that tracks Web support for many languages.

The editor's draft of this document is being developed by the India International Program Layout Task Force, part of the W3C Internationalization Interest Group. It is published by the Internationalization Working Group. The end target for this document is a Working Group Note.

This document was published by the Internationalization Working Group as a Working Draft.

GitHub Issues are preferred for discussion of this specification.

Publication as a Working Draft does not imply endorsement by the W3C Membership.

This is a draft document and may be updated, replaced or obsoleted by other documents at any time. It is inappropriate to cite this document as other than work in progress.

This document was produced by a group operating under the 1 August 2017 W3C Patent Policy. The group does not expect this document to become a W3C Recommendation. W3C maintains a public list of any patent disclosures made in connection with the deliverables of the group; that page also includes instructions for disclosing a patent. An individual who has actual knowledge of a patent which the individual believes contains Essential Claim(s) must disclose the information in accordance with section 6 of the W3C Patent Policy.

This document is governed by the 15 September 2020 W3C Process Document.

1. Introduction

The W3C needs to make sure that the needs of scripts and languages around the world are built in to technologies such as HTML, CSS, SVG, etc. so that Web pages and eBooks can look and behave as people expect around the world.

This page documents difficulties people encounter when trying to use the Punjabi language in the Gurmukhi script on the Web.

Having identified an issue, it investigates the current status with regards to web specifications and implementations by user agents (browsers, e-readers, etc.), and attempts to prioritise the severity of the issue for web users.

A summary of this report and others can be found as part of the language matrix.

For a description of the Gurmukhi script and its use for the Punjabi language see the (non-W3C) page Gurmukhi/Punjabi, which summarises aspects of the orthography and typographic features, including relevant Unicode characters and their use.

1.1 Work flow

This version of the document is a preliminary analysis

Gap analysis work usually starts with a preliminary analysis, conducted quickly by one or a small group of experts. Then a more detailed analysis is carried out, involving a wider range of experts. The detailed analysis may involve the development of tests, in order to illustrate issues and track results for browsers. The next phase is ongoing maintenance. It is expected that the resulting document will not be frozen: as gaps are fixed, this should be noted in the document. It is also possible that new gaps are noticed or arise, and they can be added to this document when that happens.

1.2 Prioritization

This document not only describes gaps, it also attempts to prioritise them in terms of the impact on the local user. The prioritisation is indicated by colour.


It is important to note that these colours do not indicate to what extent a particular features is broken. They indicate the impact of a broken or missing feature on the content author or end user.

Basic styling is the level that would be generally accepted as sufficient for most Web pages. Advanced level support would include additional features one might expect to include in ebooks or other advanced typographic formats. There may be features of a script or language that are not supported on the Web, but that are not generally regarded as necessary (usually archaic or obscure features). In this case, the feature can be described here, but the status should be marked as OK.

The decision as to what priority level is assigned to a described gap is down to the experts doing the gap analysis. It may not always be straightforward to decide. If a given section in this document refers to more than one feature that is broken, each with different impacts on Web users, the priority for the section should be the lowest denominator.

A cell can be scored as OK if the feature in question is specified in an appropriate specification, and is supported by user agents. A specification that is in CR or later and has two implementations in 'major' browsers will count. This means that the feature may not be supported in all browsers yet. (At some point in the future we may try to distinguish, visually, whether support is available in a specification but still pending in major browsers or applications.)

2. Text direction

See also General page layout & progression for features such as column layout, page turning direction, etc. that are affected by text direction.

2.1 Vertical text

Are the script requirements for vertically oriented text met? What about if you mix vertical text with scripts that are normally only horizontal? Do you need a switch to use different characters in vertical vs. horizontal text? Does the browser support short runs of horizontal text in vertical lines (tate-chu-yoko in Japanese) as expected? Is the orientation of characters and the directional ordering of characters supported as needed? See available information or check for currently needed data.

2.2 Bidirectional text

If this script runs right-to-left, are there any issues when handling that? Is bidirectional text adequately supported? What about numbers and expressions? Do the Unicode bidi controls and HTML markup provide the support needed? Is isolation of directional runs problematic? See available information or check for currently needed data.

3. Characters and phrases

3.1 Characters & encoding

Are there any character repertoire issues preventing use of this script on the Web? Do variation selectors need attention? Are there any other encoding-related issues? See available information or check for currently needed data.

#95 Independent vowels are confusing

Gurmukhi is unique from other Indic scripts in that it has independent vowels, namely, ੳ U+0A73, ਅ U+0A05 and ੲ U+0A72. ੳ U+0A73 and ੲ U+0A72 have no inherent sound and require attaching to a dependent vowel (ex: ੁ U+0A41).

For compatibility with other Indic scripts, ਉ U+0A09 exists as a single code point in Unicode. i.e. ਉ U+0A09 occupies the same spot in the Gurmukhi plane as उ U+0909 in the Devanagari (which does not have independent vowels) plane.

This causes great confusion for Punjabi / Gurmukhi users who would expect ਉ U+0A09 and the combinations of ੳ U+0A73 with ੁ U+0A41 to be equivalent—but they are not. We should get some sort of compatibility equivalence for these characters or at least treat them as equivalent for the purposes of sorting, search, collation, etc.

  1. ਉ U+0A09 = ੳ U+0A73 + ੁ U+0A41
  2. ਊ U+0A0A = ੳ U+0A73 + ੂ U+0A42
  3. ਓ U+0A13 = ੳ U+0A73 + ੋ U+0A4B
  4. ਆ U+0A06 = ਅ U+0A05 + ਾ U+0A3E
  5. ਐ U+0A10 = ਅ U+0A05 + ੈ U+0A48
  6. ਔ U+0A14 = ਅ U+0A05 + ੌ U+0A4C
  7. ਇ U+0A07 = ੲ U+0A72 + ਿ U+0A3F
  8. ਈ U+0A08 = ੲ U+0A72 + ੀ U+0A40
  9. ਏ U+0A0F = ੲ U+0A72 + ੇ U+0A47

There seems to be a decent amount of data generated using the incorrect sequence. ex: Searching ਅਾਲੂ returns 2450 results on Google, while searching ਆਲੂ returns 131,000 results (~2%)

3.2 Fonts

Do the standard fallback fonts used in browsers (eg. serif, sans-serif, cursive, etc.) match expectations? Are special font or OpenType features needed for this script that are not available? See available information or check for currently needed data.

3.3 Font styles, weight, etc

This covers ways of modifying the glyphs, such as for italicisation, bolding, oblique, etc. Do italic fonts lean in the right direction? Is synthesised italicisation problematic? Are there other problems relating to bolding or italicisation - perhaps relating to generalised assumptions of applicability? See available information or check for currently needed data.

3.4 Glyph shaping and positioning

Does the script in question require additional user control features to support alterations to the position or shape of glyphs, for example adjusting the distance between the base text and diacritics, or changing the glyphs used in a systematic way? Do you need to be able to compose/decompose conjuncts, or show characters that are otherwise hidden, etc? See available information or check for currently needed data.

3.5 Cursive text

If this script is cursive (eg. Arabic, N’Ko, Syriac, etc), are there problems or needed features related to the handling of cursive text? Do cursive links break if parts of a word are marked up or styled? Do Unicode joiner and non-joiner characters behave as expected? See available information or check for currently needed data.

3.6 Baselines, line-height, etc

Does the browser support requirements for baseline alignment between mixed scripts and in general? See available information or check for currently needed data.

#96 Differences in physical size for fonts affects baseline alignment

This issue is especially applicable to northern Indic scripts with a head line.

By and large, Indian scripts in browsers are rendered with default fonts provided by back-end Operating Systems. If there are major differences in physical size for a particular font size, which most of the times are, it shows the mixed-script text in an un-organized way. This obviously affects all the base-line attributes.

Generally, Indian scripts that have joining line use the joining line as the baseline. Ideally, if a document contains both Devanagari and Gurmukhi text (such as Mahan Khosh), the text should be aligned at the joining line regardless of the script or font.

3.7 Transforming characters

Does your script need special text transforms that are not supported? Does your script convert letters to uppercase, capitalised and lowercase alternatives according to your typographic needs? Do you need to to convert between half-width and full-width presentation forms? See available information or check for currently needed data.

3.8 Grapheme/word segmentation & selection

This is about how text is divided into graphemes, words, sentences, etc., and behaviour associated with that. Do Unicode grapheme clusters appropriately segment character units for your script? When you double- or triple-click on the text, is the expected range of characters highlighted? When you move through the text with the cursor, or backspace, etc. do you see the expected behaviour? (Some of the answers to these questions may be picker up in other sections, such as line-breaking, or initial-letter styling.) See available information or check for currently needed data.

#98 Space toggle switch may be useful for Gurmukhi

Certain older Gurmukhi texts do not contain space characters. This form is known as _Larivaar_ and some website allow you to toggle it as a setting. It might make sense for this to be a transform property on the text, so that way we can preserve the words for line-breaking.

#97 Inconsistent deletion behaviour

This behavior varies even between different applications within macOS. Apple Pages seems to delete / select / cursor by Vowel+Consonant cluster. TextEdit seems to delete by code point, but cursor / select is by Vowel + Consonant cluster. In general, the TextEdit behavior seems favorable.

Gurmukhi has only three commonly used half/subjoined consonants for ਹ ਵ and ਰ. Most Gurmukhi readers are not familiar with the concept of Halant / Virama and thus deleting behavior should delete the full half-character.

3.9 Inline features & punctuation

Are there specific problems related to punctuation or the interaction of the text with punctuation (for example separation of punctuation from previous text, but allowing no line break between)? Are there issues related to handling of abbreviation, ellipsis, or iteration? Are there problems related to bracketing information or demarcating things such as proper nouns, etc? See available information or check for currently needed data.

3.10 Text decoration

This is about ways of marking text (see also specific sections dedicated to quotations and inline notes/annotations). Is it possible to express emphasis or highlight content as expected? Bold, italic and under-/over-lines are not always appropriate, and some scripts have their own unique ways of doing things, that are not in the Western tradition at all. Text delimiters mark certain items or sections off from the main text, such as book names in Chinese, quotations, head markers in Tibetan, etc, and often involve the use of punctuation. Is there any behaviour that isn't well supported, such as overlines for numeric digits in Syriac? Are there issues about the positioning or use of underlines? Some aspects related to the drawing of lines alongside or through text involve local typographic considerations. Do underlines need to be broken in special ways for this script? Do you need support for additional line shapes or widths? Does the distance or position of the lines relative to the text need to vary in ways that are not achievable? Are lines correctly drawn relative to vertical text? See available information or check for currently needed data.

#90 Underline and overline need to clear glyph ascenders and descenders

Indian language text has some signs called as Matras which sometimes join above the shirorekha or below the normal baseline.

Applications should ensure that the underline and overline when getting rendered, should adaquetly be taken into consideration. Chrome browser seemed to be perfectly rendering the underline and overline feature by breaking the same where a matra occurs. Internet Explorer also handles it a bit differently by appropriately lowering or heightening the respective lines.

3.11 Quotations

Are there any issues when dealing with quotations marks, especially when nested? Should block quotes be indented or handled specially? See available information or check for currently needed data.

3.12 Inline notes & annotations

The ruby spec currently specifies an initial subset of requirements for fine-tuning the typography of phonetic and semantic annotations of East Asian text, including furigana, pinyin and zhuyin fuhao systems. Is is adequate for what it sets out to do? What other controls will be needed in the future? What about other types of inline annotation, such as warichu? (For referent-type notes such as footnotes, see below.) See available information or check for currently needed data.

3.13 Data formats & numbers

If the script has its own set of number digits, are there any issues in how they are used? Does the script or language use special format patterns that are problematic (eg. 12,34,000 in India)? What about date/time formats and selection - and are non-Gregorian calendars needed? Do percent signs and other symbols associated with number work correctly, and do numbers need special decorations, (like in Ethiopic or Syriac)? How about the management of personal names, addresses, etc. in web pages: are there issues? See available information or check for currently needed data.

#100 Gurmukhi numeral switch needed

Generally Latin Numerals are acceptable in Gurmukhi text. Most of the user community identifies with them. However, there could be cases where certain web-pages would prefer to have numerals in Gurmukhi to cater to mono-lingual (mono-script rather) readers. This is particularly required for input types number and date. It would be useful if the input type values are augmented with the script mnemonics e.g. number_guru or date_guru instead of changing it for entire page through some locale setting. There could be cases where a user may require both kinds of numbering in the same web-page.

4. Lines and Paragraphs

4.1 Line breaking

Does the browser capture the rules about the way text in your script wraps when it hits the end of a line? Does line-breaking wrap whole 'words' at a time, or characters, or something else (such as syllables in Tibetan and Javanese)? What characters should not appear at the end or start of a line, and what should be done to prevent that? See available information or check for currently needed data.

See also hyphenation below.

4.2 Hyphenation

Is hyphenation used for your script, or something else? If hyphenation is used, does it work as expected? (Note, this is about line-end hyphenation when text is wrapped, rather than use of the hyphen and related characters as punctuation marks.) See available information or check for currently needed data.

4.3 Text alignment & justification

When text in a paragraph needs to have flush lines down both sides, does it follow the rules for your script? Does the script need assistance to conform to a grid pattern? Does your script allow punctuation to hang outside the text box at the start or end of a line? Where adjustments are need to make a line flush, how is that done? Do you shrink/stretch space between words and/or letters? Are word baselines stretched, as in Arabic? What about paragraph indents, or the need for logical alignment keywords, such as start/end, rather than left/right? See available information or check for currently needed data.

4.4 Letter spacing

Some scripts create emphasis or other effects by spacing out the words, letters or syllables in a word. Are there requirements for this script/language that are unsupported? (For justification related spacing, see below.) See available information or check for currently needed data.

#118 Browsers apply extraneous spaces when letter-spacing

This issue applies to all languages that use letter-spacing.

Currently browsers that apply letter-spacing do so by adding a space after every letter in the text that is tracked. This results in a superfluous space at the end of the range, which creates an inappropriate gap before the following text. Letter spacing at the end of a line makes the line look misaligned in justified or right-justified text. It also has implications for text that has other styling, such as an outline or a coloured background, at the same time as being stretched.

This issue is described in more detail and tracked here.

4.5 Lists, counters, etc.

The CSS Counter Styles specification describes a limited set of simple and complex styles for counters to be used in list numbering, chapter heading numbering, etc.The rules plus more counter styles (totalling around 120 for over 30 scripts) are listed in the document Ready-made Counter Styles. Do these cover your needs? Are the details correct? Are there other aspects related to counters and lists that need to be addressed? See available information or check for currently needed data.

#114 Counter-styles

A gurmukhi (numeric) counter style is supported by the 3 main browser engines, so there appear to be no issues here.

4.6 Styling initials

Does the browser or ereader correctly handle special styling of the initial letter of a line or paragraph, such as for drop caps or similar? How about the size relationship between the large letter and the lines alongide? where does the large letter anchor relative to the lines alongside? is it normal to include initial quote marks in the large letter? is the large letter really a syllable? etc. Are all of these things working as expected? See available information or check for currently needed data.

#84 initial-letter positioning is not widely available

Having selected the correct text for highlighting, it is important to ensure proper alignment of the baseline and height of the initial letter highlight relative to the other lines of text. This doesn't work well without help from the dedicated CSS properties, initial-letters and the initial-letters-align. Unfortunately, only Safari supports the first property, and it requires the -webkit prefix, so this is still an immature feature.

Safari aligns the alphabetic baseline of the highlighted text with that on the specified number of lines. The relationship between the highlighted letters and the first line of the paragraph appears to be based on cap height, but is not clear. The requirements for that relationship are not yet really clear, despite the information in Indian Layout Requirements.

The impact here is advanced, since it is mainly needed for advanced layouts.

5. Page & book layout

5.1 General page layout & progression

How are the main text area and ancilliary areas positioned and defined? Are there any special requirements here, such as dimensions in characters for the Japanese kihon hanmen? The book cover for scripts that are read right-to-left scripts is on the right of the spine, rather than the left. Is that provided for? When content can flow vertically and to the left or right, how do you specify the location of objects, text, etc. relative to the flow? For example, keywords 'left' and 'right' are likely to need to be reversed for pages written in English and page written in Arabic. Do tables and grid layouts work as expected? How do columns work in vertical text? Can you mix block of vertical and horizontal text correctly? Does text scroll in the expected direction? Other topics that belong here include any local requirements for things such as printer marks, tables of contents and indexes. See available information or check for currently needed data.

5.2 Footnotes, endnotes, etc.

Does your script have special requirements for footnotes, endnotes or other necessary annotations of this kind in the way needed for your culture? (There is a section above for purely inline annotations, such as ruby or warichu. This section is more about annotation systems that separate the reference marks and the content of the notes.) See available information or check for currently needed data.

Western-style footnotes seems to be accepted as common. Harvard University Press’s Sufi Lyrics — Bulleh Shah makes use of them with Gurmukhi numerals

5.3 Page headers, footers, etc.

Are there special conventions for page numbering, or the way that running headers and the like are handled? See available information or check for currently needed data.

5.4 Forms & user interaction

Are vertical form controls well supported? In right-to-left scripts, is it possible to set the base direction for a form field? Is the scroll bar on the correct side? etc. See available information or check for currently needed data.

6. Other

6.1 Culture-specific features

Sometimes a script or language does things that are not common outside of its sphere of influence. This is a loose bag of additional items that weren't previously mentioned. This section may also be relevant for observations related to locale formats (such as number, date, currency, format support).

6.2 What else?

There are many other CSS modules which may need review for script-specific requirements, not to mention the SVG, HTML, Speech, MathML and other specifications. What else is likely to cause problems for worldwide deployment of the Web, and what requirements need to be addressed to make the Web function well locally?

Show summary

A. Acknowledgements

Special thanks to the following people who contributed to this document (contributors' names listed in in alphabetic order).

Kulpreet Chilana

Please find the latest info of the contributors at the GitHub contributors list.