Complex Text Layout Language Support in the Solaris Operating Environment

1.1 Introduction

Storing and displaying text has traditionally followed the basic structure of writing systems in Western languages (languages based on the Roman, Cyrillic, and Greek alphabets). Input characters are stored in the order in which they are typed, and displayed in the same order. There is no logical difference between how text is stored and how it is displayed.

Some writing systems, however, are different than those of Western languages. The direction in which characters are displayed can be different and the shape of a character or word can be modified depending on the adjoining text. Complex text layout transformations are required for display. A Complex Text Layout (CTL) language is any language which stores text differently from how it is displayed.

Particularly, many CTL languages use bidirectional script. Words and sentences are written from right to left, while some text, such as numbers and Roman-based words, are written from left to right. Arabic and Hebrew use bidirectional script. Furthermore, some CTL languages are context dependent. In Arabic, characters can be modified depending on the preceding and following characters. Written Thai uses character clusters, a collection of syllabic elements denoting consonants, vowels, and tonal values.