In the languages of the Western world based on the Latin, Cyrillic, and, Greek scripts, there is no difference between how text is stored for data processing and how it is presented on a display device or a printer. The text is read on horizontal lines from left to right, the lines progress from top to bottom and the characters are stored in a manner identical to how they are processed. However, not all the languages of the world have these characteristics. Especially Middle East and South East Asian languages like Arabic, Hebrew, Thai, Hindi, and so on, are such exceptions that require special processing of character/text data before actual rendering of the characters/text due to following characteristics in their text layout:

- Bidirectionality. Unlike Latin scripts, usually characters are written from right to left.
- Context-sensitive shaping: Usually a character changes its shape and location within a rendering area of the character(s) depend on the location and/or surrounding characters.

Among above two characteristics, the "context-sensitive shaping" rule is inherently specific to each and every individual scripts. Because of the characteristic, the context-sensitive shaping before actual rendering has been done with a software component, i.e., layout engine, for a particular language/script that is dedicated to the language/script.

In this presentation, we will try to present a single, universal context-sensitive shaping mechanism for all scripts by using a finite state machine algorithm with user supplied shaping rules that will be added into the next release of Solaris operating environment.

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24 January 1999, Webmaster