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No RTL in the next version of Word for the Mac

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#1 R. Mansfield

R. Mansfield


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Posted 28 October 2005 - 06:52 PM

Today I emailed Rick Schaut who works as a software design engineer in the MacBU at Microsoft. Schaut works primarily with MS Word for the Mac and has a blog at http://blogs.msdn.com/rick_schaut/.

I described to him some of the difficulties that we've discussed here many times regarding right to left support and importing unicode Hebrew into Word for the Mac. I asked him if any of this would be resolved in the next version of Word that is supposed to be released sometime next year.

Here's his response:

At present, it doesn't look as though right-to-left text rendering will
be in the next release of Mac Office. The reasons are somewhat
complicated to explain, but they stem from differences between Windows
and the Macintosh with respect to low-level APIs that provide
context-based glyph substitution and the ability to get glyph-based (as
opposed to character-based) measurements. At present, the only way we
can do RTL in Mac Word would break the line-layout compatibility between
Mac Word and Win Word.

This is really, really disappointing. I've been using Mellel a lot more lately, but I really miss some of the features I've grown used to in Word over the years. I guess if we were holding out hope that some of the RTL issues would be fixed with the next version of Word, we can forget it. I think it's shameful that the Windows version of Word can handle RTL and the Mac version can't--especially considering the Mac version has been around longer.

Rick Mansfield

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#2 Mike Thigpen

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Posted 29 October 2005 - 05:54 PM

Although many are using Mellel, I'd encourage users to also consider Nisus Writer Express for good RTL functionality. It uses the native Mac language switching capabilities to mix RTL and LTR text very, very well. The latest version is stable and has significant feature improvements over previous versions. I've talked to several who work with RTL languages routinely like I do and they too have found it a capable replacement for Word on the Mac platform.

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