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Re: [Groff] Issue with Groff (Right-to-left support)

From: Ted Harding
Subject: Re: [Groff] Issue with Groff (Right-to-left support)
Date: Wed, 25 Jun 2014 11:50:26 +0100 (BST)

On 25-Jun-2014 10:16:13 Russell Hyer wrote:
> Hi,
> I am writing to ask whether anyone on this list knows about any
> built in right-to-left support for Groff (without having to resort
> to hacks like using sed to reverse streams of characters)[1].
> One of the reasons I mention this, is that there was a document or
> a mini solution (perhaps?) provided on the groff mailing list a
> number of years back - but trying to search the web for modern and
> relevant information seems to be fraught with the wrong answers
> (or just bad info).
> There was, for example, one solution suggested in 2006, see:
> But it's not clear whether a) this is the only solution and
> b) if there's a coded version of this solution.
> Now I do appreciate that PDF and Postscript is, of course,
> left-to-right oriented. I mean, we have the ability in PDF to just
> write: T* (Hello World) Tj to obtain a line of text reading "Hello
> World" - of course such output won't be aligned beautifully. Part of
> the other issue is that il8n means that UTF 8 (or unicode) is now
> supported by our systems and - for example - typing in Hebrew in HTML
> (when using unicode) forces this to output automatically. (Naturally
> there can be some issues with potentially English styling like full
> stops etc.) But, so far as I can tell, whilst advances like mom for
> groff seem to make it easy to use - plus all the other drawing and
> other graphing languages that can be used together with Groff, there
> seems to be some RTL support missing. (That is to say, in HTML,
> Unicode Hebrew letters automatically face the right way (although
> certain English punctuation marks might not without coaxing)).
> Thank you for your help,
> Russell N Hyer
> Maths Student/Geek/Part time human
> [1] One semi effective way is to use the bidiv programme for Hebrew
> text (but this does kinda suggest that the current system (or my
> setup) is slightly misconfigured for RTL languages; of course in such
> a setup bidiv becomes yet another pre-processor and you also need to
> strip the additional white spacing.)

It could be interesting to see if others have knowledge of more
recent developments! Unfortunately troff/groff itself is LTR oriented
in its internal workings, and can drop the dish on the floor when
trying to serve up RTL text (especially when RTL segments are embedded
in a mainly LTR text -- e.g. you are writing in English but quoting
Arabic or Hebrew -- line breaks can be a major problem here).

Many (about 25) years ago there was a version called ffortid
(i.e. RTL "ditroff"). I did try this for a while, but did not manage
to get used to it!

Nonetheless, if you try a google search on "ffortid" you will get
several hits, some of which may be useful.

Good luck!

E-Mail: (Ted Harding) <address@hidden>
Date: 25-Jun-2014  Time: 11:50:23
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