Hebrew, as well as Arabic and Urdu, are written from right to left (RTL), as opposed to English and other western languages that are written from left to right (LTR). This poses a challenge for computer systems because they require a special bidirectional algorithm[i] in order to display these texts correctly. Software developers and engineers often find working with Flash to create multilingual content extremely difficult when translating into these languages, since Flash doesn’t have the capability to support RTL text flow. Most of our RTL Flash projects involve e-learning content, with the end goal of creating localized online trainings in these languages. The project flow consists in the following steps: 1. Developers place the translatable Flash files (.SWF) into .xml files, a format that is easier for the translation team to handle. 2. The translation team translate and finalize translatable text as an .xml file and, 3. Developers then place the translations back into the .SWF files or Flash environment.
The process described above is not at all challenging with LTR languages, but it quickly gets complicated with RTL languages and indeed, Hebrew has caused some headaches for our developers and engineering team. The main difficulty is that Flash “wants” to read the text as it would read the letters in a LTR language, and when this happens the characters are mirrored or their order is swapped. Imagine that you have embedded the word HOUSE as text field, and no matter how much you want to manipulate the text you keep getting ESUOH when trying to place the content into the source .SWF files.
These are some reasons our engineers often highlight as to why Hebrew takes longer than other LTR languages: (more…)