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Re: Proposal for new direction attribute

From: Amir E. Aharoni <amir.aharoni@mail.huji.ac.il>
Date: Thu, 21 Feb 2013 00:07:50 +0530
Message-ID: <CACtNa8sLKwCr_B8vdDervBMOR5SCqPGKhQts8JaHwwB53EfAew@mail.gmail.com>
To: "Phillips, Addison" <addison@lab126.com>
Cc: Richard Ishida <ishida@w3.org>, www International <www-international@w3.org>, "public-i18n-bidi@w3.org" <public-i18n-bidi@w3.org>
i2013/2/20 Phillips, Addison <addison@lab126.com>:
> Hello Amir,
> In my opinion, using the @lang attribute to set direction is a bad idea. The
> language tag is not an explicit indicator of the direction of content. It
> may, of course, imply the direction. But it is a poor indicator compared to
> either explicit direction or to first strong (auto direction).

Contrariwise: first-strong is just a poor heuristic when no other
information about direction is available.

dir="rtl/ltr" is what's used in practice today, of course, and it's
OK, but how is it used? How does the developer decide that something
should be ltr or rtl? According to the language, of course. At least
that's what happens in major CMSs, like WordPress and MediaWiki. I am
a developer of the latter; it applies dir server-side (and sometimes
client-side) according the language whenever it is known. We currently
maintain our list of languages, with a direction specified for each
language, and we are gradually moving to using the CLDR for providing
information about the writing system, and hence the direction, of each
language. I cannot imagine web developers doing anything else. And
since that's what's happening in practice, it should be done by the

There are edge cases, the most famous examples being Punjabi and
Azeri, but as I explain in
https://www.w3.org/Bugs/Public/show_bug.cgi?id=19888 , using correct
language codes solves this problem. Developers should use a correct
lang attribute anyway. This also means that "few people use the lang
attribute" is a weak argument.

What I am proposing is to apply a *default* direction according to the
specified language, and to make it possible to override with an
explicit dir (or direction) attribute.

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

> Having @lang start a new isolate might be worthwhile, though, since one
> language embedded in another might very well have different directional
> characteristics and there is no reason to require users to input both
> attributes if the content does not inherently require more complex markup.
> Addison Phillips
> Globalization Architect (Lab126)
> Chair (W3C I18N WG)
> Sent from my Kindle Fire HD
> "Amir E. Aharoni" <amir.aharoni@mail.huji.ac.il> wrote:
> The direction/dir transition plan is nice.
> It's a bit disappointing, though, that neither of the following
> suggestions was considered:
> 1. Make any element with an explicit lang or dir attribute
> bidi-isolated by default
> https://www.w3.org/Bugs/Public/show_bug.cgi?id=18490
> 2. Apply the direction according to language
> https://www.w3.org/Bugs/Public/show_bug.cgi?id=19888
> Is there, maybe, a plan to consider this in the future?
> --
> Amir Elisha Aharoni · אָמִיר אֱלִישָׁע אַהֲרוֹנִי
> http://aharoni.wordpress.com
> ‪“We're living in pieces,
> I want to live in peace.” – T. Moore‬
> 2013/2/20 Richard Ishida <ishida@w3.org>:
>> Unicode 6.3 will shortly be released, and will contain new control codes
>> (RLI, LRI, FSI, PDI) to enable authors to express isolation at the same
>> time
>> as direction in inline bidirectional text. The Unicode Consortium
>> recommends
>> that isolation be used as the default for all future inline bidirectional
>> text embeddings.
>> The i18n WG has been discussing how to ensure that HTML5 encourages and
>> enables content authors to adopt and apply isolation *as the default*
>> whenever they set direction on inline content, and discourage future use
>> of
>> dir=rtl or dir=ltr (which does not produce isolation).
>> The proposal of the WG, with rationales, can be found at
>> http://www.w3.org/International/wiki/Html-bidi-isolation
>> i18n WG folks, please let me know asap if you think this needs changing in
>> some way.
>> RI
>> --
>> Richard Ishida
>> W3C
>> http://rishida.net/
Received on Wednesday, 20 February 2013 18:38:41 UTC

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