Re: [css-text] boustrophedon in CSS?

On Mon, Nov 7, 2016 at 3:11 PM, John Hudson <> wrote:
> I'm working on an epichoric Greek font for transcription of archaic and
> early-classical inscriptions. The primary use of the font will, therefore,
> involve boustrophedon layout invoked by Unicode BiDi control characters to
> set RTL layout on alternate lines of transcribed inscription texts, i.e. the
> control characters will be manually applied by scholars to text with hard
> line-breaks. The font's <rtla> OpenType Layout feature lookups will be
> responsible for displaying flipped forms of letters in the RTL lines
> (presuming cooperation of layout engine support).
> I've been wondering, though, about boustrophedon layout within CSS as
> something that could be responsive to soft line-breaking, flex boxes, device
> orientation, etc.. I've looked online, to see if CSS already had
> boustrophedon-related properties, but have only found examples of people
> using CSS transforms to flip lines of text, rather than using a mechanism
> that will access designed RTL glyphs vis OpenType features. At least some of
> these examples seem also to rely on hard line-breaks, and are not responsive
> to changes in window width, etc.
> Has any thought been given to defining boustrophedon layout within CSS in a
> way that would make it responsive and would take advantage of font-level
> display variants?
> I realise that this is of very limited practical use, and is little more
> than a gimmick, given that significant use of boustrophedon will be with
> hard line-breaks in transcriptions of archaic Greek inscriptions.

There's definitely been thought about it: boustrophedon has long been
a joke/curse in CSS Writing Modes discussions!

That said, you're right; it's basically a gimmick on the web. Spending
browser dev time on something that no language has used in kiloyears
is not a good trade-off. ^_^  Ancient Greek, like some other
interesting writing systems, will be presented on the web via images,
not raw text.  (Ideally, SVG: you get raw text for a11y, but can
position it arbitrarily.)


Received on Monday, 7 November 2016 23:41:19 UTC