Using Right-to-Left, Complex Text Layout, and Vertical Text

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NeoOffice has strong support for languages that use non-Roman scripts, including those scripts which use bidirectional input and complex text layout, as well as support for the native Mac OS X input methods used by many of these languages. This means NeoOffice can be used to input Arabic, Hebrew, Thai, Hindi, Chinese and Japanese, among many others.


Right-to-Left and bidirectional text

The steps required to enable NeoOffice to enter text in right-to-left (RTL) languages such as Arabic or Hebrew, or bidirectionally with both RTL and LTR languages, are fairly simple.

  1. Enable the Right-to-Left and Left-to-Right toolbar buttons, if necessary
    • If you have installed a language pack for an RTL language, the Right-to-Left and Left-to-Right toolbar buttons are enabled automatically in Writer
    • If you have not installed an RTL language pack, enable the buttons manually:
      1. Choose Preferences… from the NeoOffice menu
      2. Expand the Language Settings section in the right-hand pane and click on Languages
      3. In the Enhanced language support section, click Enabled for complex text layout (CTL) checkbox; this will enable the Right-to-Left and Left-to-Right toolbar buttons
  2. To begin writing, first click the Right-to-Left button on the toolbar
  3. Use the Input Method (aka "Flag") menu to change the Mac OS X keyboard layout or input method, if necessary
  4. Begin typing
    • To insert a section of LTR text, change to the appropriate LTR keyboard layout and type; to return to RTL, simply switch back to the RTL layout

Complex text layout

Entering text in languages and scripts which require complex text layout features such as ligatures or glyph reordering, like Arabic and Indic languages, is also supported in NeoOffice. There are, however, a few issues due to bugs or limitations in Apple's AAT, ATSUI, and Java implementations.

  • ligatures and glyph reordering
  • Java 1.4.2 is buggy; sends wrong glyph codes to Neo in certain cases [jp period, matras]
    • Mac OS X bug, nothing we can do; file bug reports with Apple
  • Requires AAT fonts for Arabic, Indic languages; see the Alternative Fonts page for additional fonts beyond those which ship with Mac OS X

Vertical text

Vertical text, used in classical Chinese and Japanese (as well as in Mongolian, which may not be supported) is somewhat non-intuitive to enter. The following are the steps Patrick Luby uses when testing vertical Japanese text input in Writer:

You can insert vertical text, but it is not intuitive. Here are the steps that I use when I test Japanese vertical input in Writer:

  1. From the View menu, select the Toolbars submenu and then the Drawing menu item so that the Drawing toolbar appears at the bottom of the screen.
  2. Click on the "T" icon that is rotated 90 degrees (i.e. the "fallen over" T icon).
  3. Click an area in the document and drag the mouse to create a box.
  4. Type your Japanese text in this box.

I don't really like this "text box" approach, but it is how (which NeoOffice is based on) handles vertical text.


Related External Links

Writing Vertical Text

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