Unicode: Carbon Emacs 22 vs Emacs 23

By Xah Lee. Date:

Emacs 23 has just been released last month. One major news is that emacs now uses Unicode utf-8 as its char representation internally (as opposed to a hacked up internal encoding used previously). This is a major improvement in Unicode support. Also, Carbon has been deprecated in emacs CVS, supplanted by the Cocoa branch.

However, on my old Mac, it seems the Carbon Emacs is quite superior from common user perception.

Carbon emacs 22 unicode NeXTStep emacs 23 unicode
Unicode in Carbon Emacs 22 (left), in Emacs 23 (right), on the Mac.

The left is “GNU Emacs 22.2.1 (powerpc-apple-darwin8.11.0, Carbon Version 1.6.0) of 2008-04-05 on g5.tokyo.stp.isas.jaxa.jp”.

The right is: “GNU Emacs 23.1.1 (powerpc-apple-darwin8.11.0, NS apple-appkit-824.48) of 2009-08-04 on xahg5.local”.

My Mac is 1.9 GHz PowerPC G5, running Mac OS X 10.4.11. The machine is about 4 years old, it is the last Mac with PowerPC. The OS is also one major version old.

There are no customization for emacs 23 above. It is using a Mac OS's font “Manaco”, size 14.

The Carbon Emacs is using the following setup picked up from years before:

; make available extra CJK-font for carbon emacs in the menu
(if (eq window-system 'mac) (require 'carbon-font))
; about carbon emacs fonts, see:
; /Applications/Emacs.app/Contents/Resources/site-lisp/mac/carbon-font.el
(if (featurep 'carbon-emacs-package)

You can download the above file here:unicode.txt. (content may not be exactly the same as shown in the screenshot)


I'm not sure what to conclude from this. Apparently, my old Carbon Emacs is superior as far as rendering Unicode at user level. I wonder it's because i haven't done research to pick the right font for emacs 23, or perhaps i need to define a emacs's concept of fontset, or, is this actually due to a tech immaturity of the Cocoa engine or emacs implementation in Cocoa? Because i've heard complains on the net that ditching Carbon in emacs CVS is a mistake.

PS Since my mac and OS is few years old, both Carbon Emacs and Aquamacs Emacs has dropped support for about over a year, so i haven't tested their latest. Is current version Carbon Emacs or Aquamacs actually run on cocoa code base from emacs 23?

Could anyone download this file unicode.txt and show screenshot in their current Carbon/Aquamacs Emacs?

Several people has wrote to me. It appears, that current Carbon Emacs on 10.5 shows all the chars, and GNU EMACS 23 on 10.5 also does. I'm pretty sure Aquamacs Emacs do as well.