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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 12:09:16 +0100 (BST)

[Follow-up: see at end]

On 25-Jun-2014 10:50:26 Ted Harding wrote:
> 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!
> Ted.

A search for "ffortid" in the groff archives came up with the
following (which may or may not help):


E-Mail: (Ted Harding) <address@hidden>
Date: 25-Jun-2014  Time: 12:09:14
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