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Unicode Demystified by Richard Gillam

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The Unicode Bidirectional Layout Algorithm

The Unicode bidirectional text layout algorithm (or “bi-di algorithm,” as it is most commonly called) is possibly the most complicated and difficult-to-understand aspect of the Unicode standard, but it's also a vital one. The idea is that with Unicode giving one the ability to represent text in multiple languages as simply as one can represent text in a single language, you'll see more mixed-language text. You therefore have to make sure that any sequence of characters is interpreted in the same way (and has the same appearance, ignoring differences in things like font design) in all systems that claim to implement the standard. If the Unicode standard didn't specify exactly what order the characters ...

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