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© 1997 – 2003 Patrick Hassel Zein

This page was last updated 30.12.2003

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General information about GB/BIG5

When you surf the net you will find that a lot of the interesting information from China is coded in GB or BIG5 (a kind of 2-byte coding) since it would be too slow and unpractical to send all characters as bitmaps – especially all the way from China to Europe.

Usually European computers aren't equipped with programs to interpret BIG5 as the corresponding Chinese characters. Maybe the problem would be less troublesome if something like unicode became the international standard for all computers... But here's a short instruction as to how the problem may be solved *today* on a regular PC:

Chinese System Download

The routine above will make it possible to read Chinese texts and web pages, but if you want to write Chinese, then you will need a Chinese system running on top of Windows 3.1, Windows 95 or Windows NT together with your Internet explorer or other programs. And of course there are similar programs for Macintosh as well, but personally I haven't tested any of them.

Here are four suggestions of Chinese Internet Viewers that can be downloaded from the Web for free. All are trial versions and/or sharewares.

TwinBridge and Chinese Star are probably the most well known names on the market. I prefer to work with TwinBridge. Both these systems are very complete with many different ways of input, different fonts, wordbooks and so on. The size of the systems will of course demand a lot of disk space. If you only need a small and simple system to be able to surf on the Web then I can recommend alternative number three instead, Nánjí Star, a small, swift and fully functional system. The problem with Nánjí Star is that you can't write your own texts and there are only bitmap-fonts available. I haven't had time to personally test RichWin, but you can find several of their products to download from the Net, and I've heard they're really quite good.


Chinese Star

Nánjí Star