It's All Backwards! How the human element makes supporting BiDi difficult (...and what to do about it)
This lecture was given in the 2019 Unicode Conference.
One of the bigger and more confusing internationalization challenges we face is that of Right-to-Left support, and even more so the support of bidirectionality: when a piece of text mixes LTR and RTL in the same sentence. While the Bidirectional Algorithm gives us a great, solid support system for such situations, it cannot analyze and understand the meaning of individual pieces of text; human beings must make sure that when they are dealing with bidirectionality, they utilize the bidirectional algorithm support intentionally and correctly. As always when depending on the human element, this leads to common mistakes and mishaps in bidirectional support. Some of those are so common, even right-to-left speakers often cannot recognize they are wrong. Some mistakes are so deeply embedded, they have impacted social behavior and even led to lawsuits.
This session will go over examples of real life misuse and mistakes that happen when the bidirectional algorithm is not applied properly, will discuss how prevalent it is in society considering the majority of people are not language or computer savvy, and will give some pieces of advice on how to tackle the more common problems.