pidgin BiDi

Ethan Blanton elb at
Thu Jun 3 12:13:50 EDT 2010

Amr Shahin spake unto us the following wisdom:
> i was wondering if ur into supporting/enhancing BiDi support in pidgin, if
> so i will be more than happy to contribute :)

The short answer is that, yes, we would like to have better
bidirectional text support in Pidgin.  The long answer is ...
more complicated.  ;-)

There are several possible points of failure in our bidirectional text
support.  The first is in the Gtk+/Pango/etc. libraries that we use.
It is my understanding that, in later releases, these are actually
pretty good.  However, you may find some problems with our bidi
behavior which ultimately end up in these libraries, or in our
interaction with these libraries in ways that are difficult to fix.

The second, and I think the first one interesting to us, is in our own
code, in the widgets we have implemented for editing and display (such
as GtkIMHtml).  GtkIMHtml itself is slated for eventual replacement,
but it seems likely that that will be a while yet.  We know there are
some bidi text problems in these widgets, but we either a) don't know
how to fix them properly because we're not RTL users ourselves, or b)
there seems to be disagreement among RTL users, even of the same
language, as to what the "right" behavior is.

The third is in the protocols.  In some cases, protocols need hints as
to what directionality the text they are transporting is supposed to
be, and we may not always get this right.  In particular, I've seen
complaints that we don't always get it right on MSN.

If you'd like to tackle some or all of these problems, we'd love to
have your help.  None of the primary Pidgin developers use a RTL
language for computing enough to have a good feel for where things are
going wrong, or how.


The laws that forbid the carrying of arms are laws [that have no remedy
for evils].  They disarm only those who are neither inclined nor
determined to commit crimes.
		-- Cesare Beccaria, "On Crimes and Punishments", 1764
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