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Subject: Re: [office-comment] marking directionality of text inside a paragraph

2011/10/18 Patrick Durusau <patrick@durusau.net>:
> Amir,
> Thanks for the comment!

Thanks for the quick reply!

> Question:
> When you say:
>> A possible challenge in implementing this feature is that the software
>> must show the user who edits the document that a particular piece of
>> inline text has different directionality. The directionality of a
>> paragraph is usually obvious, but the different directionality of
>> inline text is less obvious (especially when it's set correctly!).
>> However, this is probably a consideration for the implementers and not
>> for the standard authors.
> Why wouldn't directionality of inline text be obvious to the author?

There are several possible examples of text formatting. A bold font or
a hyperlink are visually obvious, almost without exception. A
paragraph for which direction is defined is usually also obvious: its
alignment usually (although not necessarily) matches the direction
and, more importantly, the punctuation marks in it appear at the
correct of the line (possibly the most notorious problem of incorrect
direction handling is periods and question marks that appear at the
wrong end of the line).

It is much less obvious in the middle of the paragraph. Most Unicode
letters are automatically placed in correct order, so one or even ten
words in Hebrew will appear correctly in an English paragraph.
Problems with directionality start when numbers, punctuation marks, or
characters in different directionality enter the picture.

Let's say that OpenOffice supports this feature; Alice writes a
document in English, adds one sentence in Hebrew and marks it
correctly (for example, by selecting the text and pressing the
appropriate toolbar button). She emails the document to Bob; if Bob
will see the sentence, it will just appear to him correct and natural
and won't stand out in any way, like bold text would, so he may fail
to notice it.

It is not a major problem, but only something that should be kept in
mind. It's not too hard to solve it either: For example, a toolbar
button may change when the caret is inside text with different
directionality, or such text may be displayed with a slightly
different background color, or the caret itself may change its shape

Just for comparison: OpenOffice doesn't try to handle inline
directionality at all. Microsoft Word tries to handle it automatically
by assuming inline directionality according to the keyboard layout;
for example, when the user switches the keyboard layout from English
to Hebrew, Word adds a virtual <span dir="rtl">-like thing at that
point. Unfortunately, Word doesn't provide any way to remove this
virtual direction marker except deleting the characters surrounding
it, and it doesn't provide any way to change the directionality of
text that was already written.

Amir Elisha Aharoni · אָמִיר אֱלִישָׁע אַהֲרוֹנִי
‪“We're living in pieces,
I want to live in peace.” – T. Moore‬

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