Cursor movement in Hebrew, was: Non-ascii string processing?

From: Peter Kirk (
Date: Thu Oct 09 2003 - 05:25:15 CST

On 08/10/2003 21:55, Jungshik Shin wrote:

> ...
> I've got a question about the cursor movement and
>selection in Hebrew text with such a grapheme (made up of 6 Unicode
>characters). What would be ordinary users' expectation when delete,
>backspace, and arrow keys(for cursor movement) are pressed around/in the
>middle of that DGC? Do they expect backspace/delete/arrow keys to operate
>_always_ at the DGC level or sometimes do they want them to work at the
>Unicode character level (or its equivalent in their perception of Hebrew
>'letters')? Exactly the same question can be asked of Indic scripts.
>I've asked this before (discussed the issue with Marco a couple of years
>ago), but I haven't heard back from native users of Indic scripts.
> Jungshik
I can't answer for native users of Hebrew. Maybe others can, but then
most modern Hebrew word processing is done with unpointed text where
this is not an issue. But I can speak for what has been done with
Windows fonts for pointed Hebrew for scholarly purposes.

In each of them, as far as I can remember, delete and backspace delete
only a single character, not a default grapheme cluster. This is
probably appropriate for a font used mainly for scholarly purposes,
where representations of complex grapheme clusters may need to be edited
to make them exactly correct. A different approach might be more
suitable for a font commonly used for entering long texts. In such a
case I would tend to expect backspace to cancel one keystroke - but that
may be ambiguous of course when editing text which has not just been

Cursor movement also works at the character level. In some fonts there
is no visible cursor movement when moving over a non-spacing character,
which is probably the default but can be confusing to users. At least
one font has attempted to place the cursor at different locations within
the base character e.g. in the middle when there are two characters in
the DGC, at the 1/3 and 2/3 points when there are three characters. But
this is likely to get confusing when there are 5 or 6 characters in the
DGC and their order is not entirely predictable.

Peter Kirk (personal) (work)

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