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Subject: [office] My confusion regarding properties and writing modes

I wanted to cite the issues that came to my mind regarding how I came to 
the conclusion that the file format was weighted to Western European 
left-to-right writing modes.

I'm reading the "OpenOffice.org XML File Format 1.0 Technical Reference 
Manual Version 2 December 2002".

I only made it a short way into the document before I found in "2.3.1 Page 
Master" pages 54-55 in the sections "Border", "Border Line Width" and 
"Padding" that the absolute properties of top, bottom, left and right are 
used, and not the writing mode dependent properties before, after, start 
and end.

Note that page margins are always top, bottom, left and right in XSL-FO 
because they are from the physical orientation and not the writing mode.

I was uncomfortable to hear in the conference call that the intention of 
supporting right-to-left and other writing modes in the context of Open 
Office is to document how the semantics of properties change in certain cases.

I think this approach is wrong and fraught with problems.  The "Border" and 
"Padding" properties explicitly use the XSL-FO vocabulary as indicated by 
the use of the namespace.  An "fo:padding-left" specification will always 
be on the left side of the box model because it is absolute.  Choosing, 
rather, the "fo:padding-start" property will instead be based on the 
writing mode.  What would be on the left side for left-to-right Western 
European writing will properly be on the right side for right-to-left 
Arabic/Hebrew writing when using "fo:padding-start".

I'm not sure why custom border line width properties are used instead of 
XSL-FO properties, but for the same reasons any new properties in the style 
namespace or namespaces for other properties should consider 
writing-mode-independent property names and semantics instead of absolute ones.

Consider that I might write a stylesheet for Western European text ... when 
I diligently use before, after, start and end semantics for the formatting 
properties, my stylesheet can be used *without change* for other writing 
modes and have those semantics properly reflected.

Please let me know if you have any questions.

I hope this helps.

....................... Ken

Upcoming hands-on in-depth XSLT/XPath and/or XSL-FO:
-                             North America:  Feb 3 - Feb 7,2003

G. Ken Holman                mailto:gkholman@CraneSoftwrights.com
Crane Softwrights Ltd.         http://www.CraneSoftwrights.com/o/
Box 266, Kars, Ontario CANADA K0A-2E0   +1(613)489-0999 (F:-0995)
ISBN 0-13-065196-6                      Definitive XSLT and XPath
ISBN 0-13-140374-5                              Definitive XSL-FO
ISBN 1-894049-08-X  Practical Transformation Using XSLT and XPath
ISBN 1-894049-10-1              Practical Formatting Using XSL-FO
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