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Old 01-28-2011, 11:43 AM   #1
Doitsu
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Question Problems with RTL texts (Arabic, Hebrew)

I converted a small Arabic test file to both ePUB and MOBI files. The ePUB version displays fine, but the MOBI version doesn't.

Even though I added an RTL attribute to the HTML tag, it seems to be ignored both by KindleGen and Mobipocket Creator.

For example it should display: هذا كتاب جميل
But it displays: جميل كتاب هذا
I.e. the last word is displayed first and the first one last.

Can someone confirm that the PC and IPhone Kindle apps (and probably the actual Kindle) cannot render Arabic .MOBI files correctly?
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Old 01-28-2011, 12:05 PM   #2
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But each word is rendered correctly? How strange.

I wouldn't be surprised if the Kindle doesn't support right-to-left text, in fact, as far as I know, the Mobipocket format doesn't.

Last time I checked, ADE didn't support it either, where did you try the ePUB?
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Old 01-29-2011, 12:43 PM   #3
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No RTL support in ADE either :-(

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jellby View Post
I wouldn't be surprised if the Kindle doesn't support right-to-left text, in fact, as far as I know, the Mobipocket format doesn't.
I was afraid you'd say that. It's a pity that they're excluding a huge potential marked by not providing RTL support. Too me that's a real bummer. I found a nice free Arabic-English word list that I thought about converting to the MOBI format, because so far the Kindle apps are the only apps that offer integrated dictionary lookups. But without a way of easily converting Arabic etexts to MOBI files it's pretty much pointless.

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Originally Posted by Jellby View Post
Last time I checked, ADE didn't support it either, where did you try the ePUB?
You're right again. I only tested my ePUB with the Firefox ePUB Reader plug-in, which displays it exactly as it should be, but neither ADE nor ADE-based ebook Readers display the Arabic characters, and even if they did, they'd probably have the same problem as the Kindle apps, because I could tell from the length of the individual words, that they also do not support RTL text.

I do hope that RTL support will be added to the next version of ePUB standard and MOBI file spec.

P.S.: Since there's always the possibility that I incorrectly encoded the Arabic text, I attached a .zip file containing the epub and mobi files, the mobi sources and a pdf of what the output should like.
Attached Files
File Type: zip RTL Test.zip (48.8 KB, 296 views)
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Old 01-29-2011, 01:03 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Doitsu View Post
You're right again. I only tested my ePUB with the Firefox ePUB Reader plug-in, which displays it exactly as it should be, but neither ADE nor ADE-based ebook Readers display the Arabic characters, and even if they did, they'd probably have the same problem as the Kindle apps, because I could tell from the length of the individual words, that they also do not support RTL text.
It does not display the characters because the default font has a rather narrow character covering. If you embed a font, or use a reader that lets you select a custom font, it will happily show the Arabic characters... in left-to-right order.

Note that the display order of the characters is something more complex than it seems. When I tried to have some Hebrew text inserted in a Latin-alphabet text, I concluded that one is expected to code the characters in the natural order of each language (reading order), and let the reading software handle the direction, don't use CSS or XHTML properties to specify the direction of a piece of text, unless you want to override the natural direction.

Quote:
I do hope that RTL support will be added to the next version of ePUB standard and MOBI file spec.
As far as I can see, the ePUB spec already requires right-to-left, it's just Adobe who does not support it, and that's one of the reasons why having Adobe dominate (practically monopolize) the ePUB readers is a bad thing.

As for the Mobipocket format, if there is any spec, it's secret, because it's a closed, proprietary format. I wouldn't count on it being updated any time soon.

Last edited by Jellby; 01-29-2011 at 01:08 PM.
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Old 01-29-2011, 01:23 PM   #5
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For a detailed comparison see eReader for the Hebrew reader. The list of Arabic compatible devices isn't necessarily exactly the same as for Hebrew, but it should be close. What I get from this thread is: a) Linux-based readers that include FBReader support RTL languages and this includes PocketBook and probably Kindles with FBreader & fbKindle, b) Android-based readers with Aldiko or Moon+ (but not FBReaderJ) support RTL languages, and c) Apple iThing. I have not seen anything one way or the other about the latest version of Aldiko (version 2.0), which includes Adobe Digital Editions and so might have dropped RTL support. If Aldiko 2.0 does work, it will be the first app for DRMed Adobe ePubs that supports RTL languages.

Finally, PDFs with embedded fonts that are formatted for a 6" screen (say) are the most widely applicable way to read RTL on ebook readers. Calibre can convert from MOBI or ePub to PDF, see Hebrew pdf output for kindle - newbie.
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Old 01-29-2011, 01:37 PM   #6
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(X)HTML has sufficient RTL support

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jellby View Post
Note that the display order of the characters is something more complex than it seems. When I tried to have some Hebrew text inserted in a Latin-alphabet text, I concluded that one is expected to code the characters in the natural order of each language (reading order), and let the reading software handle the direction, don't use CSS or XHTML properties to specify the direction of a piece of text, unless you want to override the natural direction.
Since the (X)HMTL standard, which the ePUB and MOBI formats are partially based on, already has sufficient RTL support tags for every conceivable scenario, I don't think that ebook authors should be forced to use workarounds, just because Adobe forgot to correctly implement RTL support in ADE.

Quote:
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As far as I can see, the ePUB spec already requires right-to-left, it's just Adobe who does not support it, and that's one of the reasons why having Adobe dominate (practically monopolize) the ePUB readers is a bad thing.
I totally agree with you on that. Too bad that there's no fully ePUB compliant Open Source ePUB reader software for mobile devices.
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Old 01-29-2011, 02:10 PM   #7
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Reader with RTL support

Quote:
Originally Posted by wallcraft View Post
For a detailed comparison see eReader for the Hebrew reader.
Thanks a lot for your very informative post and the links in it.

Quote:
Originally Posted by wallcraft View Post
Finally, PDFs with embedded fonts that are formatted for a 6" screen (say) are the most widely applicable way to read RTL on ebook readers.
Creating PDFs for a smaller screen is a good idea, but the Kindle IPhone and PC apps don't support .pdf files, and I'm mostly interested in an ebook reader with integrated dictionary lookup for language learning purposes, and AFAIK, so far only the Kindle apps offer this feature.
I'll check out the other RTL compliant apps mentioned in the RTL support topic. Maybe another app will fit the bill.
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Old 02-03-2011, 08:13 PM   #8
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Last time I checked the actual Kindle hardware devices still do not support any RTL languages nor glyphs. But it is now supporting CJK (Chinese Japanese Korean)

Check out this site for a bunch of test mobis you can used to see which glyphs a Kindle device actually displays vs. which it displays the [?] "Huh?" glyph for.

http://freekindlebooks.org/Unicode/unicode.html

None of the Kindle emulator software seems to accurately represent what glyphs are actually on the devices.
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Old 02-04-2011, 05:18 PM   #9
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I put up a new-and-improved test file for Kindle at:

http://freekindlebooks.org/Unicode/unicode.html

which starts by displaying common code pages, and then at the end displays a list of "all" Unicode code points so that you can see if a particular Kindle hardware device actually display that code point or not. Pretty obvious that Kindle still doesn't have code points for Arabic or Hebrew, but does support CJK among many other languages. I would have though that Kindle would at least want to support Hebrew LTR for example.
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Old 07-11-2012, 09:26 PM   #10
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The newest firmware for Kindle 4NT allows for the correct display of a book in at least one RTL language: Yiddish. I am currently reading a book that I scanned into HTML and then converted using Calibre (with the Calibre plug-in for KF8).
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