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

I guess the bigger question here is "Should it be possible to represent
European digit characters with different glyphs (that correspond to other
Unicode characters)" ?

One issue with relying on the operating system for such preferences is that
the displayed text is likely to look different on different platforms,
browsers and devices.  One could argue that maps digit shapes to reflect the
user's preferences, but I'm not sure.

Fwiw, I don't think the directionality of the page should have any effect on
this at all.  The dir attribute only affects the base direction, and that is
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 with
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 where
European digit characters are displayed as Arabic-indic glyphs, I doubt you
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?


Richard Ishida
Internationalization Lead
W3C (World Wide Web Consortium)

[] On Behalf Of Daniel Goldschmidt
Sent: 13 May 2009 19:16
Subject: controlling digits substitution in IE/FF (Arabic/Hindi/Decimal)


In Arabic (and other language) the European Decimal digits can be substitute
by Hindi digit depending the context.

On Windows platform there is a possibility to set the digits substitution
behavior to as follow:
 - Context (the default)
 - None
 - National

(Control Panel -> Regional and Language Setting -> Regional Options ->

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 digits
are displayed)
In IE digits are substituted (Hindi digits are displayed)

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...).


Daniel Goldschmidt
Internationalization and Localization expert

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Received on Thursday, 14 May 2009 07:56:39 UTC