Re: GTK internationalization, right-to-left languages

On Thu, May 07, 1998 at 08:03:38PM -0600, Tom Tromey wrote:

> Devanagari seems to have its own set of rules for ligatures.  From
> skimming this section I can't tell if these are required (in Arabic
> some ligatures are required) or not.  The same apparently holds for
> Tamil.  Whee.

I assume dealing with those languages written top to bottom, bottom to top
or aligned on a vector 23 degrees above the x axis is not an issue, right?

[switching using interface on the fly]

> I wonder if this is really all that useful.  I don't have a real
> feeling for it.  My guess would be that most people will set up their
> preferences once and then never touch them.  It's hard to see how
> magically switching would be useful (aside from the high gee-whiz
> value).

No, it isn't really useful. It is fun, however.

On the other hand, switching a user interface should certainly not require
recompilation. At worst, it should require running the application with a
different command line switch.

> My personal view is that hot switching isn't required.  But what do I
> know?  I only speak English.

I've never used an interface that can do hot switching, so I can't tell
either. I have used an interface that can do switching that requires a
restart of the application (in MS Word and Excel) - I've used this ability
when I had to read non-Hebrew data files which simply look wrong in a
right-to-left interface. It is an important feature.

> I think the basic idea is to have each layout object know whether
> l-to-r or r-to-l is in use.  Ordinarily this flag would switch with
> the locale.  However, it would also be possible to set the flag one
> way or the other for those cases which warrant absolute
> (locale-independent) handling.
> I think this requires the minimal number of changes to applications.
> Basically it amounts to finding all locale-independent displays and
> arranging to set the flag.  All other windows and dialogs, which I
> believe to be the largest class, could remain unchanged.

How many of gtk's widgets use absolute positioning, if at all? Assuming most
widgets (and also applications) use relative positioning using boxes and
tables, only these two should be changed in this respect. It appears as if
changing the hbox is very simple. I don't know too much about gtktable,

> Nimrod> 5. Language files.
> The message database problem is already solved in the free software
> world.  Take a look at GNU gettext.
> It uses a different model than the one you propose.  I believe the
> gettext model is superior, but I won't go into the reasons why here.

I've taken a look into gettext. It looks very useful. It does have an
overhead because it uses text strings as pointers to the database, but I
assume it is tolerable.

As mentioned in my mail, gettext alone is not enough because Unicode support
should somehow be incorporated into it.


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