There was a similar question a few years ago, but no real solution, so I thought I’d start a new thread. This may be beyond OpenOffice. Maybe InDesign would work, but I’m hoping to make the solution accessible to other people, in a community doesn’t have the computer resources for expensive word processors. Currently nearly everything is written by hand, which is quite frustrating to people.
I’m trying to create a font for a boustrophedon script. I think I’ve started to figure out how to design an OpenType font so the letters reverse orientation between LTR and RTL, using ltrm and rtlm (they don’t need to be upside down, as in rongorongo, though that could be done with ltra and rtla). The problem is creating flowing text in a document using that font. I thought maybe I could set up a series of linked frames–that way the text could go bottom to top as well, which is a common direction for writing. But I can’t figure out how to have the frames alternate between LTR and RTL–they all change if I change one. Also, even in RTL, Latin text still goes LTR, it’s just aligned to the right. I assume that’s because I’m typing in a script that’s defined as LTR, and that overrides my paragraph/frame settings? I was hoping to simply use ASCII code points for the font, so you could toggle a text between Roman and the local script depending on which font you chose. (Both scripts are used for the language. It’s a personal and political choice.) But to get actual RTL text in a RTL paragraph, will I need to create code points in the PUA so they’re not defined as RTL or as LTR? Would that allow them to follow the text direction defined for the paragraph/frame? (I don’t know if it’s possible to strip the LTR definition from the Latin/ASCII block.) Or would adding ltrm and rtlm definitions to the code points allow that? I’m a complete novice with creating OpenType.
I saw a hack online where you set your input language to Hebrew, and put the LTR forms of the letters in the Latin/ASCII block of the font, and the RTL (mirrored) forms in the Hebrew block. Then you can toggle between the two using the CapLock key. Ingenious, and that should work with LibreOffice frames (or really, just with paragraph breaks, since there’d be a hard break between them anyway), but of course that screws up text flow so you can’t edit your text after you set it up, and can’t do a text search, since mirrored letters will be defined as different characters, and also only half of it will toggle back to roman script.
Anyway, if anyone can think of a way to handle this, even if it’s just in LibreOffice and wouldn’t work for text messaging, we’d really appreciate it. In handwriting, people have the freedom to write the script in many directions, and it’s designed to support that. Top to bottom, bottom to top; boustrophedon is the default but sometimes just RTL or LTR. It would be a shame to force a change in the script and people’s choices because of a lack of computer support, like all the glyph variants that were lost from Indic and even Canadian scripts in pre-TT/OT days because there wasn’t room for them in manual or electric typewriters, and now there are generations of school kids that grew up without them.