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It's All Backwards!

It's All Backwards!

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.

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Moriel Schottlender

October 17, 2019
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Transcript

  1. It’s all Backwards How the human element makes supporting BiDi

    difficult (...and what to do about it)
  2. Senior Software Engineer @ The Wikimedia Foundation Right-to-Left support enthusiast

    @mooeypoo http://rtl.wtf and http://rtl.works Moriel Schottlender http://moriel.smarterthanthat.com https://wikimediafoundation.org Who am I
  3. Unicode’s BiDi A really quick primer

  4. .תירבעב םויסו in English םילימ םע ,תירבעב טפשמ Unicode’s BiDi

    Helps define directionality contexts
  5. Unicode’s BiDi Helps define directionality contexts .תירבעב םויסו in English

    םילימ םע ,תירבעב טפשמ RTL context LTR internal context
  6. Unicode’s BiDi Mental model RTL context LTR context

  7. Unicode’s BiDi Mental model RTL context LTR context BEGINNING BEGINNING

  8. Unicode’s BiDi Mental model RTL context LTR context BEGINNING BEGINNING

    Content direction dir=”rtl” Bidirectional isolation <bdi>...</bdi> Control characters &rlm; &lrm; Multidirectional typing ...
  9. Unicode’s BiDi Whole document in one direction (No problems) Mixed

    directions in one document (Algorithm needed)
  10. Unicode’s BiDi Whole document in one direction (No problems) Mixed

    directions in one document (Algorithm needed) - Numbers are LTR in most RTL languages - People chat / post in more than one language online More info: http://unicode.org/reports/tr9/ or http://rtl.wtf
  11. Unicode’s BiDi Solves a lot of problems Typing RTL in

    LTR context Typing LTR into an RTL sentence Dealing with numbers Dealing with punctuation Standardizing complex behavior
  12. Unicode’s BiDi Solves a lot of problems BUT BiDi is

    also really really hard for humans
  13. BiDi is also really really hard for humans

  14. BiDi is also really really hard for humans RTL LTR

  15. None
  16. BiDi is also really really hard for humans If BiDi

    has so many problems in Real Life How can we even begin to create products that work for Right to Left users!?
  17. Try to understand common behavior Do our best to find

    best solution Be ready to iterate Some things don’t have a clear cut answer Avoid too many assumptions Be consistent
  18. How real life BiDi ruins everything

  19. Misaligned print-outs are not uncommon Please leave toilet bowl clean

    after use .Thanks
  20. Can you sing...

  21. Standard direction for reading musical notes Can you sing...

  22. Standard direction for reading musical notes backwards? Can you sing...

  23. Standard direction for reading musical notes backwards? Can you sing...

    music reaches into the heart rt ___hea the to in ches ___rea sic mu
  24. Standard direction for reading musical notes backwards? Can you sing...

    music reaches into the heart rt ___h th t n ch’s ___r s’c m (Also, Hebrew doesn’t show the vowels)
  25. When English Speakers do RTL

  26. The Blacklist, Season 2, Episode 19 Credit: “Screen Shot Thought”

    https://screenshotthought.wordpress.com/2016/07/31/the-blacklist-season-2-ep-19-backwards-hebrew/
  27. The Blacklist, Season 2, Episode 19 Credit: “Screen Shot Thought”

    https://screenshotthought.wordpress.com/2016/07/31/the-blacklist-season-2-ep-19-backwards-hebrew/ Backwards Hebrew
  28. Gas station in New York Credit: “The Lansey Brother’s’ Blog”

    http://lanseybrothers.blogspot.com/2013/12/backwards-hebrew-sign.html Backwards Hebrew
  29. Credit: @aharoni https://twitter.com/i/web/status/1142807699895324674

  30. Spotify gets <3 wrong Credit: @aharoni https://twitter.com/i/web/status/1142807699895324674

  31. “Tradition”

  32. תרוסמ تﻧﺳ “noitidarT”

  33. دﯾﻠﻘﺗﻟا “noitidarT”

  34. Tattoos stay !reveroF Credit: “The Aramaic New Testament: Bad Hebrew/Aramaic

    Tattoos” http://aramaicnt.org/2007/03/27/bad-hebrewaramaic-tattoos/
  35. Tattoos stay !reveroF Credit: “The Aramaic New Testament: Bad Hebrew/Aramaic

    Tattoos” http://aramaicnt.org/2007/03/27/bad-hebrewaramaic-tattoos/ Backwards אני לדודי ודודי לי
  36. Tattoos stay !reveroF I am my beloved's, and my beloved

    is mine יל ידודו ידודל ינא Credit: “The Aramaic New Testament: Bad Hebrew/Aramaic Tattoos” http://aramaicnt.org/2007/03/27/bad-hebrewaramaic-tattoos/ Backwards אני לדודי ודודי לי Unfortunately, this happens fairly often And usually has to do with the way it’s printed...
  37. When RTL Speakers fail at RTL

  38. Everyone get :D wrong

  39. Everyone gets :D wrong Chat apps have varying level of

    ease-of-use for emoji This mishap is not uncommon
  40. Ranges are supposed to be Right to Left But the

    computer writes them Left to Right
  41. Ranges are supposed to be Right to Left But the

    computer writes them Left to Right Which leads to inconsistencies in how people read (and write) them
  42. PRINTED ABROAD PRINTED IN ISRAEL

  43. Night and day snacks

  44. Night and day snacks

  45. Night and day snacks NIGHT? DAY?

  46. Night and day snacks NIGHT? DAY? But actually it doesn’t

    matter, Because they are the same price
  47. Parking is forbidden Between the hours 06:00 - 23:00

  48. Parking is forbidden Between the hours 06:00 - 23:00 Night

    parking? Day parking?
  49. Authorized Parking Sun-Thur 8:00 to 20:00 Fri & holidays 8:00

    to 14:00
  50. What about Calendars

  51. Credit: “Afeka Tel Aviv, Engineering Department” https://www.afeka.ac.il/media/1187475/calendar_afeka_2019sx.pdf

  52. Credit: “Afeka Tel Aviv, Engineering Department” https://www.afeka.ac.il/media/1187475/calendar_afeka_2019sx.pdf September January February

    May
  53. Credit: “Afeka Tel Aviv, Engineering Department” https://www.afeka.ac.il/media/1187475/calendar_afeka_2019sx.pdf

  54. Credit: “Afeka Tel Aviv, Engineering Department” https://www.afeka.ac.il/media/1187475/calendar_afeka_2019sx.pdf

  55. Credit: “Palphot” https://www.palphot.com/producth/2808/?lang=he#!

  56. Credit: “Palphot” https://www.palphot.com/producth/2808/?lang=he#!

  57. Credit: “عآﺪﺑﻹا رﻮﻘﺻ” https://www.sqorebda3.com/vb/threads/50275/

  58. Credit: “عآﺪﺑﻹا رﻮﻘﺻ” https://www.sqorebda3.com/vb/threads/50275/

  59. Credit: “123RF” https://www.123rf.com/photo_86917712_stock-vector-calendar-2018-hijri-1439-islamic-arabic-english-dates-horizontal-design-with-bottom-contact-template.html

  60. Credit: “123RF” https://www.123rf.com/photo_86917712_stock-vector-calendar-2018-hijri-1439-islamic-arabic-english-dates-horizontal-design-with-bottom-contact-template.html

  61. What about Graphs

  62. Math Credit: “קותמ יתמ” https://isrageo.blogspot.com/2014/07/3-2014-2.html

  63. Math still goes Left to Right Credit: “קותמ יתמ” https://isrageo.blogspot.com/2014/07/3-2014-2.html

    Hours vs. Distance
  64. Math still goes Left to Right Credit: “Charts when you

    read right-to-left” https://medium.com/@mapmeld/charts-when-you-read-right-to-left-614f0a2cf54d Hours vs. Distance Right to Left
  65. Months Credit: “ynet.co.il” https://www.ynet.co.il

  66. Credit: “ynet.co.il” https://www.ynet.co.il Months in Hebrew are Right to Left

  67. Credit: “Boris Gorelik” https://gorelik.net/2019/05/21/%D7%9B%D7%95%D7%95%D7%9F-%D7%94%D7%A6%D7%99%D7%A8-%D7%94%D7%90%D7%A4%D7%A7%D7%99-%D7%91%D7%9E%D7%A1%D 7%9E%D7%9B%D7%99%D7%9D-%D7%94%D7%A0%D7%9B%D7%AA%D7%91%D7%99%D7%9D-%D7%9E%D7%99%D7%9E%D7%99%D7%9F/ Months in Hebrew are Right

    to Left Left to Right
  68. Years in numbers are Left to Right Credit: “םידומיל תוינכת

    חותיפו ןונכתל ףגאה” http://cms.education.gov.il/EducationCMS/Units/Tochniyot_Limudim/Portal/Haashara/MadaKadurHide/TMashber.htm
  69. Sequential segments Credit: “Etsem Ha’inyan ןיינעה םצע” http://etzemhainyan.com/6-%D7%92%D7%A8%D7%A4%D7%99%D7%9D-%D7%A2%D7%9C-%D7%91%D7%A8%D7%99%D7%90%D7%95%D7%AA-%D7%9B%D7%95%D7%A9% D7%A8-%D7%95%D7%9E%D7%A9%D7%A7%D7%9C/

  70. Sequential segments are sometimes Right to Left Credit: “Etsem Ha’inyan

    ןיינעה םצע” http://etzemhainyan.com/6-%D7%92%D7%A8%D7%A4%D7%99%D7%9D-%D7%A2%D7%9C-%D7%91%D7%A8%D7%99%D7%90%D7%95%D7%AA-%D7%9B%D7%95%D7%A9% D7%A8-%D7%95%D7%9E%D7%A9%D7%A7%D7%9C/
  71. Arabic numerals

  72. Arabic numerals

  73. Arabic numerals

  74. Arabic numerals Credit: “קותמ יתמ” https://isrageo.blogspot.com/2014/07/3-2014-2.html

  75. Arabic numerals Credit: “קותמ יתמ” https://isrageo.blogspot.com/2014/07/3-2014-2.html

  76. Arabic numerals Credit: “קותמ יתמ” https://isrageo.blogspot.com/2014/07/3-2014-2.html

  77. Arabic bar graph Credit: “Al Jazeera” https://www.aljazeera.net/specialfiles/pages/7165406c-2ce7-4c5b-81a1-19ec7bdd95da

  78. So... What’s the correct behavior?

  79. So... What’s the correct behavior?

  80. to flip or not to flip?

  81. to flip or not to flip? Browser icon Calendar icon

    Article icon Quotes icon
  82. to flip or not to flip? YES! Browser icon Calendar

    icon Article icon Quotes icon
  83. to flip or not to flip? YES! Browser icon Calendar

    icon Article icon Quotes icon Probably not.
  84. to flip or not to flip? YES! Browser icon Calendar

    icon Article icon Quotes icon Probably not. YES!
  85. to flip or not to flip? YES! Browser icon Calendar

    icon Article icon Quotes icon Probably not. YES! YES!
  86. to flip or not to flip? YES! Browser icon Calendar

    icon Article icon Quotes icon History icon Checkmark icon Probably not. YES! YES!
  87. to flip or not to flip? YES! Browser icon Calendar

    icon Article icon Quotes icon History icon Checkmark icon Probably not. YES! YES! Not if it’s a clock...
  88. to flip or not to flip? YES! Browser icon Calendar

    icon Article icon Quotes icon History icon Checkmark icon Probably not. YES! YES! Not if it’s a clock... Yes if it’s undo/redo
  89. to flip or not to flip? YES! Browser icon Calendar

    icon Article icon Quotes icon History icon Checkmark icon Probably not. YES! YES! Not if it’s a clock... Not unless you’re left handed Yes if it’s undo/redo
  90. Flip if it represents the beginning of the sentence Sometimes

    it depends on how they work with the visual flow
  91. snoisulcnoC

  92. Computers affect real life much more than we realize 90%

    of the time, users aren’t sure what “the correct behavior” even is Right to Left users grew to expect that everything is broken … so broken became the new normal... Which brings us back to...
  93. Try to understand common behavior Do our best to find

    best solution Be ready to iterate Some things don’t have a clear cut answer Avoid too many assumptions Be consistent
  94. ?Questions!