This document covers the following topics:
Some languages, for example Arabic and Hebrew, are written from right-to-left (RTL), whereas the majority of the languages, for example English and German, are written from left-to-right (LTR). Text which contains both left-to-right and right-to-left characters is called bidirectional text.
Support for bidirectional languages is not activated
automatically; the user always has to specify all required parameters (for
PM=I) as described below.
The profile parameter
DO (Display Order) is
additionally used to support applications that have been originally written for
terminals which support inverse (right-to-left) print mode, but no
bidirectional data. These applications create the display order of
bidirectional data in the application code. With the parameter
DO, these applications are enabled to run compatibly
also with I/O devices that support bidirectional data. This is for instance the
case if an application runs in a browser with the Natural Web I/O
The profile parameter
PM defines the default
screen direction. When
PM is set to
(reset), the default screen direction is left-to-right. When
PM is set to
I (inverse), the default
screen direction is right-to-left. All non-alphanumeric fields, system variables and PF key lines are automatically inverted
by Natural so
that they are displayed correctly from right-to-left if the screen direction is
The terminal command
%V can be used to change
the screen direction. If the screen direction is right-to-left, the layout of
the current window is mirrored, which means that the origin of all window
components or fields is the upper right corner. The screen direction is changed
to right-to-left using
%VON and is reverted to
The session parameter
PM reverses the direction
of a field. The effect of "reversing the direction of a field"
depends on the statement in which the
PM parameter is
used and the platform. If the
PM parameter is used in a
MOVE statement, the content of the field is simply reversed (that
is, the first character will become the last character, and so on); the result
does not depend on the characters of the field. Trailing blanks are removed
before the field is reversed.
For example, the following program
DEFINE DATA LOCAL 1 TEST1 (A10) 1 TEST2 (A10) END-DEFINE TEST1 := 'program' MOVE TEST1 (PM=I) TO TEST2 INPUT TEST1 (AD=O) TEST2 (AD=O) END
produces the following output:
TEST1 program TEST2 margorp
where "margorp" is the reversed version of "program".
PM parameter is used for IO statements
DISPLAY, its effect is even more
complex. In this case, the field direction is based on the screen direction:
If the screen direction is left-to-right and
applied to a field, the field direction changes to right-to-left.
If the screen direction is right-to-left and
applied to a field, the field direction changes to left-to-right.
On browser terminals (Natural Web I/O Interface), "reversing the field direction" does not mean that the characters of the field are simply reversed. Instead, the complex bidirectional algorithm is applied. On character-oriented terminals, however, the characters of a field are not resorted; they are simply reversed.
In the following example, the characters assigned to the variable
TEST have been entered in the following sequence:
If the characters are entered in the sequence as described above, the program is displayed in the following way, because the characters are simply displayed in the keying sequence.
DEFINE DATA LOCAL 1 TEST (A20) END-DEFINE TEST := 'abc 123' SET CONTROL 'voff' INPUT TEST (AD=O) / TEST (AD=O PM=I) SET CONTROL 'von' INPUT TEST (AD=O) / TEST (AD=O PM=I) END
This program produces two identical screens because the statements
SET CONTROL 'voff' and
SET CONTROL 'von' do not apply
to alphanumeric fields. Both screens look as follows:
TEST abc 123 TEST 321 cba
In Arabic text, all characters of a string are normally connected with each other. For this reason, Arabic characters have up to 4 presentation forms: the isolated, the final, the initial and the medial form. The form that will be used depends on the position of the character in the string. For example, the Arabic character "MEEM" has the following forms in Unicode:
|U+0645||ARABIC LETTER MEEM|
|U+FEE1||ARABIC LETTER MEEM ISOLATED FORM|
|U+FEE2||ARABIC LETTER MEEM FINAL FORM|
|U+FEE3||ARABIC LETTER MEEM INITIAL FORM|
|U+FEE4||ARABIC LETTER MEEM MEDIAL FORM|
Moreover, some characters are combined to a new form if they appear consecutively in a string. This is called a "ligature". For example, the characters
|U+0644||ARABIC LETTER LAM|
|U+0627||ARABIC LETTER ALEF|
have the following combined form:
|U+FEFB||ARABIC LIGATURE LAM WITH ALEF ISOLATED FORM|
Unicode strings should include only the Arabic characters in the Arabic block (U+0600 through U+06FF) or the Arabic Supplement block (U+0750 through U+077F); it is not recommended to use the presentation forms in regular Arabic text. It is up to the user interface to display the correct shapes of the characters.
"Shaped" means that every Arabic base character is converted to the appropriate Arabic presentation form. The string may contain each of the four presentation forms of a character. For example, if U+0645 (ARABIC LETTER MEEM) is used as the last character of a string, it is converted to U+FEE2 (ARABIC LETTER MEEM FINAL FORM).
"Unshaped" means that each character is represented only by its basic form. For example, instead of U+FEE2 (ARABIC LETTER MEEM FINAL FORM), U+0645 (ARABIC LETTER MEEM) is used. The conversion to the correct presentation form is performed by the rendering engine of the output device.
Natural strings are internally represented as unshaped alpha or Unicode
strings. If strings are displayed with a browser using the Natural Web I/O
Interface client or the
PROCESS PAGE statement, no transformation
is required since the rendering engine of the browser takes care of the correct
presentation. Incoming strings from such devices are already unshaped and can
be directly passed to Natural. If a string is displayed on a terminal such as
3279 or a terminal emulator such as IBM Personal Communications, it must be
converted into the shaped form since the terminal itself does not take care of
the correct presentation. Accordingly, incoming strings are in the shaped form
and must be transformed into the unshaped form to be processed correctly by
Natural. The most popular code page for Arabic terminals on the mainframe is
IBM420. Compared to Unicode, the number of characters is reduced and not each
form of a character is contained. The conversion of strings into IBM420
substitutes unavailable forms of a character by a similar presentation form.
For example, the medial form of the Arabic letter MEEM (U+FEE4) is substituted
by the initial form (U+FEE3) of the character.
In the Arabic EBCDIC code page IBM420, the Arabic character "MEEM" is represented by the following presentation forms:
|H’BA’||ARABIC LETTER MEEM|
|H’BB’||ARABIC LETTER MEEM INITIAL FORM|
The Arabic characters SEEN (U+0633), SHEEN (U+0634), SAD (U+0635) and
DAD (U+0636) (seen-family) are displayed on terminals as two bytes if they
appear in the final form. Code page IBM420 contains a so-called
"Arabic tail fragment" that completes the final form
of a seen-family character on terminals or terminal emulators. Of course, the
Arabic tail fragment needs an additional position on the screen. The Arabic
tail fragment is not required by the browsers. If a string with the final form
of a seen-family character is entered in a browser (Natural Web I/O Interface
PROCESS PAGE statement) and subsequently displayed on a
terminal, the Arabic tail fragment is appended to the string with the
consequence that the length of the string increases. If a string with the final
form of a seen-family character is entered via a terminal or terminal emulator
and subsequently displayed in a browser, the Arabic tail fragment is removed
from the string.