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Informal Query: what is the Status of Unicode Implementation in Viet Nam?

I would like to thank everyone who responded to this informal
question to elists. I do not intend it to be anything more
than a simple check of progress.

The study indicates that while more people seem to be using
Unicode, progress is slow both in Government and private use.
Unicode is most common among people using the Internet.


Informal Request for Information: what is the Status of Unicode Implementation in Viet Nam?

Vern Weitzel, UNDP
14 July 2003

In January 2003, a unified standard TCVN 6909:2001 (Unicode) came into effect as the National character coding system for the
exchange electronic documents and information in Government. Six months later, it is appropriate to ask about the progress of
Unicode Implementation.

On 17 and 18 June 2003, I sent an email request to a number of discussion groups to request answers to two simple questions (See
Annex 1):

1. What is your office?
2. What font system do you use for Office documents (ABC, VNI, Unicode)?

I made the request as simple as possible, on the assumption that this would help elicit a greater number of responses, rather than
seeking detailed responses from a poorly defined sample. James Do suggested I add information about the Operation System, since
Windows versions prior to Win 2000 do not handle Unicode well. The OS being used is evident in some responses.

I received a total if 23 responses, all of them from within Viet Nam, to which I can add our own experience for a total of 24 (We
use ABC and VietKey but also have Unicode fonts). I received two responses each from the Ministry of Science and Technology (MOST)
and Agence universitaire de la Francophonie, which I combine in the statistics. All respondents used Windows-based computers,
though one office also used and commented upon Unicode in Linux.


Of twenty-two counted responses, only one did not know about Unicode. Of the total, 16 respondents (73%) had Unicode fonts on
their systems.

With respect to the main character encoding system used by the respondents, 12 responses (55%) said they use ABC fonts, 2 VNI (9%)
4 Unicode (18%) with the remainder using a combination of fonts. ABC was by far the most common system used.

Combining all responses that indicate keeping or using Unicide, the pattern is as follows: ABC 12 responses (55%), VNI 2 responses
(9%), Unicode (among others) 7 responses (32%), ABC/VNI 1 response (4%). Here, Unicode is present in some way in about one-third
of of the offices in the poll.

This indicates that, at least in this sample, Unicode is relatively common, and often used in conjunction with other character
encoding systems in organisations which interact with many different organisations using differnt standards. Similarly,
organisations which work both in southern and northern Viet Nam use both ABC and VNI fonts, to which now in some cases is added
Unicode. In the view of some, the necessity for still another fonts system seems unnecessary.

Several writers indicated a slow pace of introduction of Unicode in Government. By contrast, organisations which have some
relationship with the Internet appear to have a greater acceptance of Unicode as a common language.

Several respondents said they had some problems with Unicode, some of which may be the result of the operating system and others
appear to be configuration problems with newer operating systems.

Annex 1: Question


Sent: Wednesday, June 18, 2003 5:02 AM
To: [ksd-vn discussion group]; [vnit-l discussion group]; J Do; Lee
Collins; [devel-vn discussion group]; [governance-vn discussion list];; WG-Website ISOC Vietnam
Subject: [ksd-vn] the use of Unicode for Vietnamese language content in

Dear all,

Some colleagues and I have been discussing the use of
Unicode in Government in Viet Nam. UNDP has a number of
projects with the Government and it seems that none of
them are using Unicode. We only get information in ABC
fonts - sometimes VNI in the South. Our Standards people
at MOST use Unicode and Open Source but aside from that,
it would be very useful to know who else is using Unicode
for daily office work.

It appears that Unicode is common on the Internet but the important
question for the expansison of Unicode into the
Government and the general community.

I would like to direct a general question to anyone who
can respond, if briefly on two questions:

What is your office? and
What font system do you use for Office documents
(ABC, VNI, Unicode)?

Please respond to me at <> and I will summarise the

Annex 2: Response Messages

Message 1:

Date: Wed, 18 Jun 2003 08:35:00 +0700
From: "Director" <>

Hi Vern

We are using ABC for Word documents at the Resource Centre. I'd be very
keen to move to one unified system in future, particularly as we start
updating our website regularly, presumably using UNICODE.


VUFO-NGO Resource Centre
218 Doi Can (La Thanh Hotel), Hanoi, Vietnam
Tel.: (0084 4) 832 85 70 A0Fax: (0084 4) 832 86 11
E-mail A0:
Web site:
UNDP is the UN's global development network

Message 2:

From: "Bui Anh Tuan" <>
Date: Thu, 19 Jun 2003 10:05:51 +0700

BlankHi Vern,

We are a Vietnamese Tours Operator in Hanoi. Almost office documents use
ABC fonts. Only my director and I is using Unicode.


Bui Anh Tuan
IT Department
Buffalo Tours Vietnam and Cambodia
Tel: 84 4 828 0702
Fax: 84 4 826 9370

Message 3:

From: "Shane Wall" <>
Date: Tue, 1 Jul 2003 17:01:56 +0700

Dear Vern,
I just read your posting of 18 June on the devel-vn mailing list re
use of Unicode, and I thought you may be interested in what we are
experiencing the language services (translation, localization,
internationalization, etc.) industry. While I speak only for our
operation here at Trans Lingual Express, I have no reason to believe it
is any different elsewhere.

While we have not "run the numbers", anecdotal evidence
overwhelmingly shows that client demand is clearly segregated: VN
clients (almost all here in the south) demand VNI; in-country foreign
clients are about 50/50 VNI/Unicode and overseas clients usually are
unaware of the hodge-podge of IME's, so we use Unicode.

Since we work across many different language combinations, increasing
the use of Unicode is a real business necessity for us. We suspect that
with the release of the Vietnamized Windows XP, calls for the uniform
adoption of the standard can be strengthened.

I do hope you get sufficient replies so we all may be able to see the
situation more clearly and hopefully arrive at some course of action
with may result in greater adoption of Unicode by all.

Warm regards,

Shane Wall
Managing Director,
Trans Lingual Express

#301 Me Linh Point Tower, 2 Ngo Duc Ke St.,
District 1, Ho Chi Minh City, Viet Nam <>;

Tel: +84 8 825 8310
Fax: +84 8 825 8311
Mbl: +84 090 822 5997

Message 4:

From: "Thai Hoa" <>
Date: Wed, 18 Jun 2003 10:13:57 +0700

We are Vietnam Australia Primary Health Care Project Office in Hochiminh
City. We've been using Unicode with Vietkey 2000 since last August.
Some problems at the beginning due to printer's incompatability. That
was fixed with supports from HP Vietnam. Please don't hesitate to
contact if you have any question.
Thai Hoa
Office Manager

Message 5:

From: "Nguyen Trung Quynh" <>
Cc: "Loc Do Van" <>,
"Chuong Luu Tran" <>
Date: Tue, 24 Jun 2003 09:40:52 +0700

Dear Mr. Vern Weitzel
Thank you very much for your concerned to the use of Unicode in Vietnam.
I am Nguyen Trung Quynh (Mr.), Information Technology Office, Ministry of
Science and Technology and its responsibility to push the use of Unicode in
May be you awared that, the Government of Vietnam has issued the Decision No
72/2002/QD-TTg dated June 10, 2002 on using the VN unified standard TCVN
6909:2001 (Unicode)for exchange electronic documents and information in
government sector since in January, 2003.
In principle, all government agencies have to use the Unicode for daily
office work. MOST had a guideline, organized training workshops and
delivered a common software (Unicode supported) for all government agencies
to use the Unicode for their daily office work. But the transforming
progress, it will be take time and step by step, so I hope UNDP projects
should be start with Unicode because it is principle of Vietnam Government.
If you have any questions, please feel free to contact us.
Thank you very much for your consideration and cooperation,
With best regards,

Nguyen Trung Quynh
IT Office, MOST
39 Tran Hung Dao Str. Hanoi, Vietnam
Tel. 04 9438418;
Fax: 04 9439736.

Message 6:

From: "MARGRIT" <>
Date: Thu, 26 Jun 2003 13:31:53 +0700

Dear Vern,
I am told by my Vietnamese colleague who is more knowledgeable than me
that our office is using VNI, but that we also have UNICODE fonts in
some of our computers.
Hoping that this is useful and that you are doing fine, I send you my
friendliest regards.
Schlosser Margrit, Ph.D.
Delegate Terre des hommes Foundation - Lausanne
11/1 Dang Van Ngu, Phu Nhuan
Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam
Tel.: (0084 8) 842 27 73
Fax: (0084 8) 846 28 91
E-mail office:
E-mail private:

Message 7:

From: Vu Do Quynh <>
Date: Wed, 18 Jun 2003 09:16:45 +0700


Quoting your question :
What is your office? and
What font system do you use for Office documents
(ABC, VNI, Unicode)?

My office is with the AUF (see below) and I am currently using UNICODE.
Of course most of our documents are in french. But we do have some
exchanges with official vietnamese institutions, mainly from the
Ministry of education and formation of Vietnam. I checked with some
colleagues which font they were using, although they were aware of
Unicode and had keyboard drivers supporting typing Vietnamese to Unicode

fonts, practically all documents in Vietnamese going out from our office

are usually written with ABC fonts. Documents coming in are either with
ABC (North) or with VNI (South).

For myself, when I have to type in Vietnamese, I usually use Unicode,
for at least one year.


Vu Do Quynh
Agence universitaire de la Francophonie, Bureau Asie Pacifique
Responsable, Centre d'AccE8s E0 l'Information scientifique et technique

(CAI) de Hanoi
08 rue Tran Hung Dao, Hanoi, Vietnam
TE9l: +84-4-9331070 ; TE9lE9copie: +84-4-8247383
Sites de toile:

Message 8:

From: <>
Date: Tue, 17 Jun 2003 20:43:26 -0400

Dear Vern
1. Representative Office of Agrifood Consulting International
2. We use ABC fonts through Vietkey
Dominic Smith

Message 9:

From: ?iso-8859-1?Q?NguyEA~n_Hu~u_Nghi~a? <>
Subject: Re: [devel-vn] the use of Unicode for Vietnamese language content in Government
Date: Wed, 18 Jun 2003 10:13:00 +0700

It is not easy for people to change their habit that is using ABC font in
the North of Vietnam. In my office I tried to promote the adventages of
using unicode to the colleagues but seem not very successful. I feel so sad
When assess to UNDP website it made me the same feeling, why a so big
organization website still use that kind of fonts?
Thank you
New Page 2NGUYEN HUU NGHIA VIE/97/030 Project - Research Institute for
Aquaculture No1 Dinh Bang - Tu Son - Bac Ninh - Vietnam Tel: 04-8785748 or
03-8951343 Mobile: 0913055531 Email:

Message 10:

From: "urbanforum" <>
Date: Wed, 18 Jun 2003 08:04:05 +0700

Dear Vern,
We use ABC at the Support to Urban Forum.

Message 11:

From: "DFID NMPRP TA" <>
Subject: Re: [devel-vn] the use of Unicode for Vietnamese language content in Government
Date: Wed, 18 Jun 2003 10:10:32 +0700

At our project office we use a mixture of ABC and Unicode.
No one really understands the difference, it would be great if you could
point us in the direction of a simple explanation between them,
compatability issues and what works with various versions of the common

We recently purchased new computers with Win XP and also Office XP, but we
had to mostly go back to Office 2000 as our suppliers could never answer or
solve issues with compatability between fonts. Problems included:
Displaying folder / file names in Windows explorers that have been written
in ABC, do not display correctly.
Text in powerpoint written in ABC, would not display in Powerpoint XP.
How to set the default Windows System font to one which accepts VN type.
Text in Access database forms and reports which use the system default font.
Any way to convert automatically ABC to Unicode, is it necessary to do this?
Migration strategies.

I'm sure this knowledge exists, but where is it simply explained in both
English and Vietnamese?

Ian Attfield
Central Project Management Unit TA
65 Van Mieu
Dong Da, Hanoi
Tel + 84 4 747 2104
Fax+ 84 4 747 2101

Message 12:

From: "Anette" <>
Date: Wed, 18 Jun 2003 15:19:36 +0700

Dear Vern,

In the North we use ABC for office docoments.
In the South we use VNI for office documents.

:-) Yes.

But we also have Unicode in the office in the North, so the staff say
they do not have any problems. Somehow they can also convert from VNI to
ABC it seems.

Best regards,

Anette Cramer
DRC Representative
15 Thien Quang Street
Hai Ba Trung
Hanoi - Vietnam

Tel.: 84 4 9422 948/9
Fax: 84 4 9422 950

Message 13:

From: "koenhuyen" <>
Date: Wed, 18 Jun 2003 12:38:09 +0700

Hi Vern,

I am working at a company called Hanoi Organics (producing and selling
organic vegetables and tea). We use ABC which seems the most common in all
offices (NGO and other) with whom we work with. Until I recently received a
document in Unicode which at first I could not read and then I could not
print, I had never heard of Unicode. (Pardon my computer ignorance.)

But having worked with an NGO before who had different systems in their
Hanoi and HCM City offices, I would highly support any move that would lead
to one system for the whole country.

Have a nice day.
Koen den Braber

Message 14:

From: "Truong Hao Quang" <>
Date: Thu, 19 Jun 2003 08:31:35 +0700

Dear Vern Weitzel,

Regarding your concern, may I refer to the Decision No.
72/2002/QC490-TTg by the Prime Minister of 10/6/2002. The use of
Unicode was stipulated on the said Decision. The fact of implementation
is however, still limited, even among government offices.

We (an INGO) are now gradually switching to the use of Unicode in the
office. At present, we use Unicode (newly introduced), ABC (Hanoi
office), and VNI (HCMC office) in our daily work. The transition needs
time really!

If you need any further information, donE28099t hesitate to contact

Best regards,

Truong Hao Quang

CIDSE Vietnam

95 Bui Thi Xuan, Hanoi

Phone: 9436678

Fax: 9436449

Message 15:

From: "NQTrang" <>
Date: Thu, 19 Jun 2003 09:54:33 +0700

Dear Vern,

Thank you for asking this question. I have been struggling with it myself.

I had used only ABC until two months ago when I went to an office which I
did some work for. I sat down on a computer but it could not read my file.
That computer had been set up for unicode. At the same time other computers
in the same office still had ABC and some did not have the Vietkey program
which is needed for typing in unicode.

Since then I have had documents sent to me in unicode from another office.
Another office I know uses ABC for most of their work, except their website,
for which they use unicode.

Then the other day I had to work on a ppt with someone from the south. I
thought it would be best to use unicode because then my southern colleague
would be able to read it. My powerpoint would not let me type in unicode,
but would take it if I type in word and paste it in... but that's such a
pain. (Maybe it's just powerpoint 97 that does this, I don't know about
powerpoint 2000. I also know that my outlook express 97 does not support
reading unicode messages.) And yes, my colleague did her part of the
presentation in VNI.

I wonder whether we gradually switching to unicode, how many NGOs and donor
organizations are using unicode, and if government organizations are moving
in that direction? Or is this just another fancy thing to add to the

I also wonder if unicode will be revised at any point soon. It uses the
same line spacing as when you type English. But because Vietnamese have the
pieces on top of the letters, tonal signs and what people call "hats",
sometimes they do not all show fully on the screen (though they come out in
a printout). For example the word "C??©m" (with a hoi tone) does not always
show as it is. You often see it show as "C??•m" (with a sac tone). I also
know that some people have had problems printing unicode, which I don't know

Sorry this has not been brief, and goes beyond the questions you asked.
Thanks a lot for raising the issue.

Best regards,

Nguyen Quynh Trang

Message 16:

From: "Jim Delaney" <>
Date: Sun, 22 Jun 2003 12:51:46 +0700

Hi Vern:

As you know, I work with the Coordinating Center for Poverty Reduction
of the National Center for Social Sciences and Humanities. In our own
office, we use ABC, though we use Vietkey as an interface rather than
the ABC software. This is because we work with a network of partners
from North to South, some of whom use VNI. There is a good deal of
conversion that occurs.

As you are aware, in many government offices, the technical systems are
set up by the individuals on the ground rather than by standards. The
choice of Vietkey software with ABC fonts was made by the office


Jim Delaney

PS: I am now increasingly using Unicode at home.

Message 17:

Date: Wed, 18 Jun 2003 09:32:49 +0700

Dear Vern,

I'm with the World Bank and we use Unicode here.


Ha Diep Nguyen
Knowledge Management Officer
The World Bank
63 Ly Thai To, Hanoi, Vietnam
Tel: +844-934-6600 - ext 317
Fax: +844-9346597
Cell: (0)-90-348-1166

Message 18:

From: "Tran Anh Thien" <>
Date: Wed, 18 Jun 2003 09:07:53 +0700

hi Vern,
We at the School of Industrial management, University of Technology, HCMC
use mostly VNI for our documents. The reason why we donot want to use
Unicode is the font incompatibility with all the existing documents of any
where else.

Tran Anh Thien. Lecturer.
School of Industrial Management,
HoChiMinh City University of Technology
National University of HoChiMinh City
Tel: 84-8-8650460; Fax:84-8-8635058.

Message 19:

From: "Vu Manh Thang" <>
Date: Wed, 18 Jun 2003 11:18:02 +0700

Hi Vern,

My office is VietSoftware and we are using Unicode
daily at work in documents and email exchanges, it's a must in our
works. We also use Unicode for our products such as web development,


Message 20:

From: "Paul Insua-Cao" <>
Date: Wed, 18 Jun 2003 15:59:56 +0700

Getting to the nitty gritty.

This office is UBIK Architects. They used ABC fonts and take some convincing
that folks in HCM city should be able to read unicode Arial.


Message 21:

From: "LE NHU XUAN" <>
Date: Fri, 20 Jun 2003 03:14:16 -0500

Vern oi,
How are you?Because the UNICODE that offer by the old IT committee can't using in fact, so even that the VN GOV ( with
documentation prepere by this IT group) has decide to using in all of country the UNICODE but, it is not accept by ministries and
business, now VnCES would like to have one project support by UNDP for the new version UNICODE can using in database for goood
national transition or metdata. Please, have you and Lars have some idea for that?
Best regards

Message 22:

Date: Wed, 18 Jun 2003 10:22:30 +0700
From: Jean Christophe ?iso-8859-1?Q?ANDRC9? <>

Hi Vern,

> What is your office?

AuF, French Speaking Universities Agency, in 48 countries,
address is in my signature.

We (I and some collegues) are enforcing the use of Unicode by our collegues,
even if the vietnamese ones sometimes hesitate to follow on this... ;)

> and What font system do you use for Office documents (ABC, VNI, Unicode)?

We use .vn* (ABC), VNI* (VNI) and standards Microsoft TrueType's (Unicode
version of Times New Roman, Arial, and Courier New, that default with Office
2000, and may be even Office 97).

Using Linux, we use some free font like Unifont, Cyberbit, the standard
XFree86 misc fonts and even Microsoft TrueType's fonts. Using Linux, it's a
bit difficult to input and print data. I have found a solution for printing
vietnamese from Mozilla, but still not tried printing from OpenOffice.

For input, we (especialy I) don't like Vietkey so we use Unikey. Under
Linux, I rewrote an Xwindow keymap to be able to input vietnamese using
standard composition (hook accent "?" on "a" gives "??£"). This way, it's a
bit slow to input vietnamese (but I don't type vietnamese so often), but I
don't need any external software and it works in any application supporting
composition (mostly all). This way that I can type vietnamese and french
using a standard US keyboard.

If you need some technical hints about Unicode, I use it everyday on my
notebook (using Linux with UTF-8 environment) and I'm also developper so
I know it a bit. :)

Cheers, J.C.
Jean Christophe ANDR*? <>
Coordonnateur technique r*©gional / Associ*© technologie projet Reflets
Agence universitaire de la Francophonie (AuF) / Bureau Asie-Pacifique (BAP)
Adresse postale : AUF, 21 L*™ Th*°nh T*?ng, T.T. Ho*Ưn Ki???m, H*Ư N???i, Vi???t Nam
T*©l. : +84 4 9331108 Fax : +84 4 8247383 Mobile : +84 91 3248747
/ Note personnelle : merci d'*©viter de m'envoyer des fichiers PowerPoint ou \
\ Word ; voir ici : /

Date: Wed, 18 Jun 2003 10:55:20 GMT
From: "phanmanhdan" <>

What is your office? : Hanoi University of Technology
What font system do you use for Office documents: Mixed ABC and Unicode.

Message 23:

Date: Wed, 18 Jun 2003 10:55:20 GMT
From: "phanmanhdan" <>

What is your office? : Hanoi University of Technology
What font system do you use for Office documents: Mixed ABC and Unicode.

Message 24:

>From Vern Weitzel <>

UNDP Viet Nam mainly uses ABC fonts on a Windows 2000 platform. Vietkey is now used in most workstations. Uniucode is also
installed. Most problems with Unicode have been resolved. We intend to upgrade our website to Unicode soon. Most documents coming
from our projects in Government are still in ABC or sometimes VNI. We have seen almost no material in Unicode from our counterparts.


Vern Weitzel (Mr.), Webmanager
<> or <>
United Nations Development Programme
address: 25-29 Phan Boi Chau; Ha Noi, Viet Nam
postal address:
UNDP Viet Nam One UN Plaza New York, NY 10017 USA
UNDP Viet Nam Palais des Nations 1211 Geneva Switzerland
UNDP Viet Nam GPO Box 618 Bangkok, 10501 Thailand
tel: +84-4 942-1495 (ext 135) fax: +84-4 942-2267 and
home address: Apartment 504-505, Block A4 Giang Vo
[opposite UN Int. School] tel: +84-4 846-1751
UNDP is the UN's global development network

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