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RE: controlling digits substitution in IE/FF (Arabic/Hindi/Decimal)

From: Matitiahu Allouche <matial@il.ibm.com>
Date: Thu, 14 May 2009 14:56:36 +0300
To: "Richard Ishida" <ishida@w3.org>
Cc: daniel.goldschmidt@gmail.com, "'Richard Ishida'" <ishida@w3.org>, www-international@w3.org, www-international-request@w3.org
Message-ID: <OF38A755EB.C8C11FBD-ONC22575B6.003FF0BA-C22575B6.00419320@il.ibm.com>
   Daniel and Richard!

Displaying Arabic-Hindi digits for numbers within Arabic text is usually a 
user preference.  Or rather it is a regional preference: users in 
Arabic-speaking countries of the Middle-East mostly prefer Arabic-Hindi 
digits, but users of Arabic-speaking countries of North Africa prefer 
Arabic-European digits.  Thus, this is the kind of things which is best 
left to decide according to the locale (or Regional Options in MS-speak). 
Ideally, all numbers should be formatted according to the locale, which 
would take care of the choice of decimal point and decimal separator.

Replacing the digits in the source text (U+0030..U+0039 by U+0660..U+0669) 
will force display of Arabic-Hindi digits even to those users which prefer 
the Arabic-European digits, so it is not an optimal solution unless the 
audience is well defined and known to have this preference.

Shalom (Regards),  Mati
           Bidi Architect
           Globalization Center Of Competency - Bidirectional Scripts
           IBM Israel
           Phone: +972 2 5888802    Fax: +972 2 5870333    Mobile: +972 52 

"Richard Ishida" <ishida@w3.org> 
Sent by: www-international-request@w3.org
14/05/2009 11:03

"'Richard Ishida'" <ishida@w3.org>, <daniel.goldschmidt@gmail.com>, 

RE: controlling digits substitution in IE/FF (Arabic/Hindi/Decimal)

Btw, I assume that the change of glyphs would need to be applied to other
characters than just digits, eg. decimal separators, thousands separators.
This may introduce complications because those things may be


Richard Ishida
Internationalization Lead
W3C (World Wide Web Consortium)


> -----Original Message-----
> From: www-international-request@w3.org [mailto:www-international-
> request@w3.org] On Behalf Of Richard Ishida
> Sent: 14 May 2009 08:56
> To: daniel.goldschmidt@gmail.com; www-international@w3.org
> Subject: RE: controlling digits substitution in IE/FF
> I guess the bigger question here is "Should it be possible to represent
> European digit characters with different glyphs (that correspond to 
> Unicode characters)" ?
> One issue with relying on the operating system for such preferences is
> the displayed text is likely to look different on different platforms,
> browsers and devices.  One could argue that maps digit shapes to reflect
> user's preferences, but I'm not sure.
> Fwiw, I don't think the directionality of the page should have any 
> this at all.  The dir attribute only affects the base direction, and 
> not relevant to whether the glyphs are displayed one way or the other.
> I assume that the behaviour of IE is due to it being so closely linked
> the operating system.
> As to your last question, there is no CSS or markup that allows that
> preference that I'm aware of.  Btw, if someone copy-pastes the text 
> European digit characters are displayed as Arabic-indic glyphs, I doubt
> can guarantee that the characters will display in the form displayed.
> But if you want to control the behaviour, why not just use the relevant
> Unicode characters?
> RI
> ============
> Richard Ishida
> Internationalization Lead
> W3C (World Wide Web Consortium)
> http://www.w3.org/International/
> http://rishida.net/
> From: www-international-request@w3.org
> [mailto:www-international-request@w3.org] On Behalf Of Daniel 
> Sent: 13 May 2009 19:16
> To: www-international@w3.org
> Subject: controlling digits substitution in IE/FF (Arabic/Hindi/Decimal)
> Hey,
> In Arabic (and other language) the European Decimal digits can be
> by Hindi digit depending the context.
> On Windows platform there is a possibility to set the digits 
> behavior to as follow:
>  - Context (the default)
>  - None
>  - National
> (Control Panel -> Regional and Language Setting -> Regional Options ->
> Customize)
> I'm experiencing differences in the behavior of  Firefox, Chrome, and
> Internet Explorer, while displaying digits in pages with dir="RTL" (with
> Regional Options set to Arabic(Egypt)):
> In Firefox/Chrome the digits are not substituted (European Decimal 
> are displayed)
> In IE digits are substituted (Hindi digits are displayed)
> Questions:
> What is the reason for those behaviour of the different browsers?
> Can I control (using CSS or markups) the behaviour? (I cannot expect the
> end-user to change his/her setting in the control panel...).
> Thanks,
> Daniel
> --
> Daniel Goldschmidt
> Internationalization and Localization expert
> www.locflowtech.com
> Office: +972-72-212-2350
> Mobile: +41-78-774-6307
> Skype: dgoldschmidt
> Visit us at www.localizationworld.com
Received on Thursday, 14 May 2009 11:59:47 UTC

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