The SignPuddle Standard for SignWriting Text

Document Type Replaced Internet-Draft (individual)
Author Stephen Slevinski 
Last updated 2016-05-09
Replaced by draft-slevinski-formal-signwriting
Stream (None)
Intended RFC status Informational
Expired & archived
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Stream Stream state (No stream defined)
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IESG IESG state Replaced by draft-slevinski-formal-signwriting
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This Internet-Draft is no longer active. A copy of the expired Internet-Draft can be found at


For concreteness, because the universal character set is not yet universal, and because an international standard for the internet community should be documented and stable, this I-D has been released with the intention of producing an RFC to document the character use and naming conventions of the SignWriting community on the Internet. The SignWriting Script is an international standard for writing sign languages by hand or with computers. From education to research, from entertainment to religion, SignWriting has proven useful because people are using it to write signed languages. The SignWriting Script has two major families: Block Printing for the reader and Handwriting for the writer. Formal SignWriting uses ASCII strings to name logographic signs. The mathematical names are explained with tokens and regular expression patterns. Symbol keys reference the symbols of the International SignWriting Alphabet 2010. Coordinates define X and Y number values for 2-dimensional placement. Signs are written in a spatial SignBox, where each symbol is positioned with a 2-dimension coordinate. For sorting, each sign can have an optional temporal sequence of symbols that is outside of the SignBox and the visible text. To create sentences, completed signs are written sequentially, interspersed with punctuation symbols. The query language of Formal SignWriting uses a lite markup, similar to FSW, to define a variety of searching possibilities. The spatial SignBox can be searched for symbols or ranges of symbols. For each symbol or range, the search can specify if the symbol only needs to be found somewhere in the SignBox, or if the symbol needs to be found near certain coordinates. The temporal sequence can be searched for starting symbols, written as a sequential list of symbols and ranges of symbols. When searching the temporal sequence, the search results will be limited to signs that start with a matching temporal sequence. Each query string is transformed into one or more regular expressions. The regular expressions are used to quickly search large amounts of data. The styling string of Formal SignWriting uses a lite markup to define a variety of styling options. The entire sign can be customized for padding, coloring, and size. Individual symbols within a sign can be customized for coloring and size. SignWriting 2010 is the modern implementation and international specification of the SignWriting Script for the internet community that includes TrueType Fonts and a compact JavaScript library. SignMaker is a standards based editor, utilizing HTML, CSS, JavaScript, SVG, TrueType Fonts, and PNG images. SignMaker can be used to create a private dictionary or to view dozens of sign language dictionaries derived from SignPuddle Online. For Unicode, there are several encodings possibilities. Formal SignWriting is UTF-8. The plane 15 encoding is isomorphic with Formal SignWriting strings, using 3 characters for each symbol, along with structural marker characters and number characters. The plane 16 encoding is focused on the symbols only, using 1 character for each symbol. The Unicode 8 specification uses 1 to 3 characters on plane 1 to name each symbol of the International SignWriting Alphabet 2010. Three appendices discuss additional topics to the standard. The first discusses the Modern SignWriting theory and example document, stable since January 12, 2012. The second discusses the symbol encoding of the International SignWriting Alphabet 2010. The third discusses the SignPuddle Standards: licences, infrastructure, and compatibility. This memo concretely defines a conceptual character encoding map for the Internet community. It is published for reference, examination, implementation, and evaluation. Distribution of this memo is unlimited.


Stephen Slevinski (

(Note: The e-mail addresses provided for the authors of this Internet-Draft may no longer be valid.)