Re: OT (Kind of): Determining whether Locales are left-to-right or

Date: Fri Dec 08 2000 - 03:54:42 EST

Hi David,

I sense a subtle (and not uncommon) disconnect in your last response.

The application isn't "english", it's "an application". Properly done, it
should be internationalized and thus able to be an "Arabic
application" when serving Arabic pages and English when serving English
pages. You might have instances where an "English application" is
*showing* some Arabic data, in which case you have some Arabic data on an
English formatted page.

Now: the data locale, page (user) locale, and server locale are three
separate, independent things and each has a certain validity under certain
circumstances. Just because you're showing the date stamp for some event
in Riyadh (sp?) doesn't mean you should use an Arabic date format (if the
user's locale is English). Similarly, the date stamp for an event in
London *would* be in an Arabic format for an Arabic user, no?

Trying to rely on the range of characters or some heuristic to determine
what the data locale is implies a hole in your database schema. The page
layout will vary by *user* locale, but data presented in it may be
formatted for its own locale (for example, an Arabic piece of text, say a
customer's name, will be presented RTL *within* a generally LTR page).

So, in short, you need to negotiate a locale with the user in your
application and use that to determine the overall page layout. *Within*
that page there will be specific instances (or not) of the data locale
being used to format content.

An "Arabic application" run from your server will have directionality tags
in the HTML (at least for modern browsers) which will greatly assist the
"relayout", plus it will load explicitly RTL page elements (such as
graphics, etc.) and use an Arabic locale for formatting non-String

Good luck,


Addison P. Phillips Principal Consultant
Inter-Locale LLC
Los Gatos, CA, USA

+1 408.210.3569 (mobile) +1 408.904.4762 (fax)
Globalization Engineering & Consulting Services

On Wed, 6 Dec 2000, David Tooke wrote:

> > I think it would be very weird to render an English-language application
> with
> > labels on the right of their fields, just because the user also
> understands
> > Arabic.
> The application is a database application where the majority of fields are
> from a Unicode database and user-entered. Their text is likely to be in
> Arabic. Therefore, as far as I am concerned, the *content* of the page is
> in Arabic not English despite it being an English application. So the page
> should be formatted as if it an Arabic page with some English text.
> As it is a Unicode database; I do not want to try to determine what
> language/script *exactly* is being used. That would involve scanning the
> Unicode characters and a lot more giggery pokery than I need.

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