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Re: [css-text] boustrophedon in CSS?

From: Daniel Glazman <daniel.glazman@disruptive-innovations.com>
Date: Tue, 8 Nov 2016 12:24:47 +0100
To: www-style@w3.org
Message-ID: <6f2a915c-5762-2676-0a5d-d3360cf6a3f8@disruptive-innovations.com>
On 08/11/2016 00:40, Tab Atkins Jr. wrote:

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

Since I am the one who originally listed boustrophedon as an existing
use case in this WG, I can unfortunately confirm that. But it's not
only a CSS WG private joke, it's also a hole in the Web. A very tiny
one, but still.

> 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.)

You're diving into one of my favorite areas here and I can tell this is
less and less the case. First of all, Unicode has blocks for most
ancient scripts, from Arcadocypriot to Linear A or Elamite Cuneiform.
Even the totally undeciphered Indus Valley Script (Harappan) is
proposed, although in limbos since '99 if I recall correctly.
Being able to share documents in ancient scripts using text and not
images as in the 90's is a major matter to scholars and students.
Most linguists and archeologists around me share text-based documents
in ancient scripts and even share emails written with ancient scripts
when Unicode allows it. The ones dealing with Aegean scripts do regret
we don't have boustrophedon on the Web.

Secondly and more importantly, boustrophedon is currently used in a
live writing system, the Avoiuli script, even if ltr and rtl are also
used. Small number of users, certainly; but live.

I'd also like to point out we spent eons on CSS Counter Styles to make
sure we match all existing cases in the world, including ancient ones
like numbering in Mkhedruli or Asomtavruli scripts. And I'm not even
mentioning Ogham in writing modes.

Florian said:

> See css-overflow-4 for the continue and max-lines properties, and the ::nth-fragment pseudo

Right. Any solution of that kind is a solution. Ones involving extra
markup to switch direction on each line are only a lesser evil.

I'm not discussing the cost of implementation here, I agree it could be
(but is it really?) expensive for a very small number of users. But
those users are here to study, share and preserve our world heritage,
and I'm sure we will consider boustrophedon for implementation some day.
Call me an eternal optimist here but I think it's a matter of
completeness of the Web and preservation of the Culture of the World.
It's been only 18 years since my first proposal after all (was it during
the Clamart face-to-face?), things can still change...

</Daniel>
Received on Tuesday, 8 November 2016 11:25:18 UTC

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