This document describes and prioritises gaps for the support of languages using the Ethiopic script on the Web and in eBooks. In particular, it is concerned with text layout. It checks that needed features are supported in W3C specifications, in particular HTML and CSS and those relating to digital publications. It also checks whether the features have been implemented in browsers and ereaders. This is a preliminary analysis.

This document describes and prioritises gaps for the support of languages using the Ethiopic script on the Web and in eBooks. In particular, it is concerned with text layout. It checks that needed features are supported in W3C specifications, in particular HTML and CSS and those relating to digital publications. It also checks whether the features have been implemented in browsers and ereaders. This document complements the document Ethiopic Layout Requirements, which describes the requirements for areas where gaps appear. It is linked to from the language matrix that tracks Web support for many languages.

The editor's draft of this document is being developed by the Ethiopic Layout Task Force, part of the W3C Internationalization Interest Group. It is published by the Internationalization Working Group. The end target for this document is a Working Group Note.

Sending comments on this document

If you wish to make comments regarding this document, please raise them as github issues. Only send comments by email if you are unable to raise issues on github (see links below). All comments are welcome.

To make it easier to track comments, please raise separate issues or emails for each comment, and point to the section you are commenting on using a URL.

Introduction

The W3C needs to make sure that the text layout and typographic needs of scripts and languages around the world are built in to technologies such as HTML, CSS, SVG, etc. so that Web pages and eBooks can look and behave as people expect around the world.

This page documents issues for a given script or language in terms of support by specifications or user agents (browsers, e-readers, etc.). A summary of this report and others can be found as part of the language matrix.

This version of the document is a preliminary analysis.

Work flow

Gap analysis work usually starts with a preliminary analysis, conducted quickly by one or a small group of experts. Then a more detailed analysis is carried out, involving a wider range of experts. The detailed analysis may involve the development of tests, in order to illustrate issues and track results for browsers. The next phase is ongoing maintenance. It is expected that the resulting document will not be frozen: as gaps are fixed, this should be noted in the document. It is also possible that new gaps are noticed or arise, and they can be added to this document when that happens.

As the gap analysis develops, the requirements for features that are problematic should be described in the companion document, Ethiopic Layout Requirements. Links to the appropriate part of that document should be added to this document as the material is created. Note that the requirements document should not contain any technology-specific information: all of that belongs here.

Prioritization

This document not only describes gaps, it also attempts to prioritise them in terms of the impact on the local user. The prioritisation is indicated by colour.

Key:

It is important to note that these colours do not indicate to what extent a particular features is broken. They indicate the impact of a broken or missing feature on the content author or end user.

Basic styling is the level that would be generally accepted as sufficient for most Web pages. Advanced level support would include additional features one might expect to include in ebooks or other advanced typographic formats. There may be features of a script or language that are not supported on the Web, but that are not generally regarded as necessary (usually archaic or obscure features). In this case, the feature can be described here, but the status should be marked as OK.

The decision as to what priority level is assigned to a described gap is down to the experts doing the gap analysis. It may not always be straightforward to decide. If a given section in this document refers to more than one feature that is broken, each with different impacts on Web users, the priority for the section should be the lowest denominator.

A cell can be scored as OK if the feature in question is specified in an appropriate specification, and is supported by user agents. A specification that is in CR or later and has two implementations in 'major' browsers will count. This means that the feature may not be supported in all browsers yet. (At some point in the future we may try to distinguish, visually, whether support is available in a specification but still pending in major browsers or applications.)

Characters and phrases

Encoding considerations

Are there any character repertoire issues preventing use of this script on the Web? Do variation selectors need attention?

Fonts

Do the standard fallback fonts used in browsers (eg. serif, sans-serif, cursive, etc.) match expectations? Are special font or OpenType features needed for this script that are not available? See available information or check for currently needed data.

Font styles

Do italic fonts lean in the right direction? Is synthesised italicisation problematic? See available information or check for currently needed data.

Glyph control

Do italic fonts lean in the right direction? Is synthesised italicisation problematic? See available information or check for currently needed data.

Gemination and vowel length marks are typically at a fixed height above the tallest character in printed material, but in handwriting the marks are just above the base character, and therefore at varying heights. It's not clear, however, that a control is needed for ajusting such diacritic heights.

See an example in the layout requirements document

Cursive text

If this script is cursive (eg. Arabic, N'Ko, Syriac, etc), are there problems or needed features related to the handling of cursive text? See available information or check for currently needed data.

Transforming characters

Does your script need special text transforms that are not supported? Does your script convert letters to uppercase, capitalised and lowercase alternatives according to your typographic needs? Do you need to to convert between half-width and full-width presentation forms? See available information or check for currently needed data.

There should be a way to automatically convert word-space characters to ordinary spaces, and vice versa.

The layout requirements document has an algorithm that can be used to convert between the two.

Numbers & digits

If the script has its own set of number digits, are there any issues in how they are used? Does the script or language use special format patterns that are problematic? See available information or check for currently needed data.

Digits have lines above and below. Modern practice tends to use discreet lines associated with each characters, however older texts used a single line across the whole set of adjacent digits. See examples in the layout requirements document. This difference is likely due to technology constraints. Presumably, a continuous line could be applied using OpenType functionality, but there may be a question about whether a control should allow to switch between one style and the other.

Try the test page.

Initial results indicate that a single line is produced by Noto Sans Ethiopic and Noto Serif Ethiopic, but not by Kefa or Abyssinica SIL fonts.

There is a question as to whether this should be managed by font choice, or whether a switch should be available to users, eg. in CSS, that allows the desired approach to be applied.

In addition to the question just mentioned, I'm not able to ascertain the impact of this feature for the user, so no priority has been assigned at this point.

Text boundaries & selection

When you double- or triple-click on the text, is the expected range of characters highlighted? When you move through the text with the cursor, or backspace, etc. do you see the expected behaviour? Are there issues when applying punctuation than could be fixed by the application? See available information or check for currently needed data.

There's a question about whether double-click selection should pick up the wordspace character as well (it does in MS Word, but spaces are not picked up in Firefox for text with normal spaces between words...).

Quotations

Are there any issues when dealing with quotations marks, especially when nested? Should block quotes be indented or handled specially? See available information or check for currently needed data.

Inter-character spacing

Many scripts create emphasis or other effects by spacing out the letters or syllables in a word. We know there are questions here about how this should work in Indic and SE Asian scripts, and in Arabic-based scripts. Are there requirements for other scripts that we should add? (For justification related spacing, see below.) See available information or check for currently needed data.

Ruby annotation

The ruby spec currently specifies an initial subset of requirements for fine-tuning the typography of phonetic and semantic annotations of East Asian text, including furigana, pinyin and zhuyin fuhao systems. Is is adequate for what it sets out to do? What other controls will be needed in the future? See available information or check for currently needed data.

Text decoration

Some aspects related to the drawing of lines alongside or through text involve local typographic considerations. Do underlines need to be broken in special ways for this script? Do you need support for additional line shapes or widths? Does the distance or position of the lines relative to the text need to vary in ways that are not achievable? Are lines correctly drawn relative to vertical text? See available information or check for currently needed data.

Underlines in Ethiopic text need to be thicker than in English text. Some control is needed over the thickness of the underline. This may be an advanced issue.

When underlining a word followed by an ethiopic wordspace, the punctuation should also receive the underline. (See the relevant section in the Ethiopic Layout Requirements doc.) The CSS Text Decoration spec, Level 4 currently says that text-decoration-skip:spaces would not underline Ethiopic word spaces. This seems like a basic issue.

A test is available for this, but text-decoration-skip:spaces doesn't appear to be supported yet by browsers. The issue may arise when implementations begin to provide support for that value. 

Emphasis & highlights

Bold and italic are not always appropriate for expressing emphasis, and some scripts have their own unique ways of doing it, that are not in the Western tradition at all. Does this script require support for emphasising or highlighting text that cannot be achieved currently? See available information or check for currently needed data.

When highlightin or emphasising a word followed by an ethiopic wordspace, the punctuation should also receive the highlight. This includes underlines, for which there is currently an issue (see above).

Bidirectional text

If this script runs right-to-left, are there any issues when handling that? Is bidirectional text adequately supported? See available information or check for currently needed data.

Other inline features

Does your script have special ways of representing inline notes (such as wakiten or kumimoji in Japanese) or other inline features that need to be supported? See available information or check for currently needed data.

Lines and Paragraphs

Line breaking

Does the browser capture the rules about the way text in your script wraps when it hits the end of a line? What characters should not appear at the end or start of a line, and what should be done to prevent that? Does line-breaking wrap whole 'words' at a time, or characters, or something else (such as syllables in Tibetan)? See available information or check for currently needed data.

Need to run a test to check whether the ethiopic characters that shouldn't appear at line end/start behave as expected given the elreq rules.

And need to test whether lines break between characters. Firefox appears to allow this, but Chrome and Safari wrap whole words (with wordspace) instead. Marking this, therefore, as basic issue. Need to check what the CSS spec says.

Hyphenation

Is hyphenation used for your script, or something else? If hyphenation is used, does it work as expected? See available information or check for currently needed data.

There seems to be a question about whether hyphenation is useful.

Justification

When text in a paragraph needs to have flush lines down both sides, does it follow the rules for your script? Does the script need assistance to conform to a grid pattern? Does your script allow punctuation to hang outside the text box at the start or end of a line? Where adjustments are need to make a line flush, how is that done? Do you shrink/stretch space between words and/or letters? Are word baselines stretched, as in Arabic? See available information or check for currently needed data.

When text uses ethiopic wordspace the wordspace should expand to assist in justification. Need some tests to check whether than happens. This is a basic issue, so if tests fail, we need to change the status of this section.

However, there need to be some rules about how to position the ink within the wordspace character (with the word, or centred), and a control to allow the preferred style of positioning. I'm classifying that as an advanced control. See the requirements.

Counters, lists, etc.

The CSS Counter Styles specification describes a limited set of simple and complex styles for counters to be used in list numbering, chapter heading numbering, etc. Are the details correct? We have another document that provides over 120 templates for user-defined counter styles in over 30 scripts. Are there more? Are there other aspects related to counters and lists that need to be addressed? See available information or check for currently needed data.

Ethiopic script text uses local counter styles. While some of these are supported by some browsers, the set of symbols used and their order varies by language. Custom counter styles can be created using Firefox only. The CSS spec needs to become a Rec and more browsers need to support it.

There is also a question (which is probably an advanced issue) about whether counters should align to the left or right.

Initial letter styling

Does the browser or ereader correctly handle special styling of the initial letter of a line or paragraph, such as for drop caps or similar? See available information or check for currently needed data.

Baselines & inline alignment

Does the browser support requirements for baseline alignment between mixed scripts and in general? See available information or check for currently needed data.

Other paragraph features

In your script, is the first line of text typically indented at the start of a paragraph? Are there other features of paragraph design that are peculiar to your script? See available information or check for currently needed data.

Layout & pages

Bidirectional layout

When content can flow vertically and to the left or right, how do you specify the location of objects, text, etc. relative to the flow? For example, keywords 'left' and 'right' are likely to need to be reversed for pages written in English and page written in Arabic. See available information or check for currently needed data.

Vertical text

Are the script requirements for vertically oriented text met? What about if you mix vertical text with scripts that are normally only horizontal? Do you need a switch to use different characters in vertical vs. horizontal text? Does the browser support short runs of horizontal text in vertical lines (tate-chu-yoko in Japanese) as expected? Is the orientation of characters and the directional ordering of characters supported as needed? See available information.

Notes, footnotes, etc.

Does your script have special requirements for notes, footnotes, endnotes or other necessary annotations of this kind in the way needed for your culture? See available information or check for currently needed data.

Appears to be same as for English.

Page numbering, running headers, etc.

Are there special conventions for page numbering, or the way that running headers and the like are handled? See available information or check for currently needed data.

Assumed to be same as for English, in general. However, elreq proposes that users should be able to toggle between European and Ethiopic numerals for the page numbering.

Other page layout & pagination features

Some cultures define page areas and page progression direction very differently from those in the West (eg. kihon hanmen in Japanese). Is this an issue for you? Are widows and orphans relevant? In what order do pages progress, RTL or LTR? See available information or check for currently needed data.

Other

Culture-specific features

Sometimes a script or language does things that are not common outside of it sphere of influence. This is a loose bag of additional items that weren't previously mentioned. This section may also be relevant for observations related to locale formats (such as number, date, currency, format support).

What else?

There are many other CSS modules which may need review for script-specific requirements, not to mention the SVG, HTML, Speech, MathML and other specifications. What else is likely to cause problems for worldwide deployment of the Web, and what requirements need to be addressed to make the Web function well locally?

Acknowledgements

Special thanks to the following people who contributed to this document (contributors' names listed in in alphabetic order).

This Person, That Person, etc

Please find the latest info of the contributors at the GitHub contributors list.