Friday, July 19, 2013

iWork for iCloud Beta: No RTL or Indic Support

Apple has released the public beta of its new iWork for iCloud, which provides a web version of Pages and other iWork apps.   My initial tests with Pages indicate that support for Arabic/Hebrew and Indic scripts is totally broken, though I haven't found any mention of that in the support documentation.

I'm not aware of any other Apple product which so completely fails to serve those language communities of about 1 billion people.  Hopefully it will be fixed in future upgrades (though that is not on the list in the "coming soon" features.)


Magnus Lewan said...

Did you try in different browsers. They hinted that Safari would work "best", but it is possible that text rendering is done in different ways in Chrome, Firefox or IE.

Tom Gewecke said...

Firefox is a little better than Safari but still totally broken. Chrome I think is same as Safari. Don't know about IE.

HandyMac said...

As you've noted before, this only repeats the same lacks in the other versions of iWork. It also continues a tradition from the classic Mac OS, where Apple's Hebrew, Arabic and Indic Language Kits worked fine with SimpleText, but not with AppleWorks. TextEdit has superior text handling to Pages in other ways also. I guess they made Pages look pretty and that was enough; no time to bother with details.

Tom Gewecke said...

@HandyMac OS X and iOS iWork has beautiful support for Indic scripts and just buggy support for RTL. iWork for iCloud beta is much, much worse for both of these, an embarrassment I think.

HandyMac said...

Oops, I stand corrected. iWork does support Indic scripts, but only for Apple-coded AAT fonts, not widely-available (and excellent) OpenType fonts like Sanskrit2003 and Tibetan Machine Uni.

Hadn't actually tried it myself, just remembered from a discussion on Tony Duff's Yahoo list (now defunct) a couple years ago, where I learned that support for OpenType features must be built into not only the OS but also individual applications. I was claiming that now that such support was included in OS X, fonts like Tibetan Machine Uni would work in any Mac application, such as Pages. I was corrected on this.

Fortunately most of the Tibetan fonts available come in both plain OpenType and AAT-encoded versions (including Jomolhari's special ID version); but Sanskrit2003 probably never will.

I haven't used Pages much, but as I said have found annoying bugs which should have been fixed long ago, such as Replace All not working, and text string selection more awkward than in TextEdit. Be nice if they could just finish the thing before they go expanding into *exciting*new*directions*.