Saturday, July 11, 2015

Word For Mac 2016: Still No Arabic, But Devanagari Seems To Work

The release version of Word for Mac 2016 was provided to Office 365 subscribers July 9.  My initial tests indicate there is still no support for RTL scripts like Arabic (letters are disconnected), but Devanagari seems to work if you use Apple's Kohinoor font.

A list of the Proofing Tools included can be found here.   I think its accuracy is suspect, since it includes Persian (for which input is definitely not supported) and several Indic scripts (Gujarati, Kannada, Marathi, Tamil).

For Arabic/Persian there is a kludge workaround which may meet the needs of some users  described here.

6 comments:

Mac said...

Reading Mossberg's comment that "it’s essentially a clone of the Windows desktop version of Office" (on.recode.net/1OkiW4h) left me hoping that we might finally be able to use Word in Thai on our Mac's. I shall be eager to hear comments from any who have tried with Office 2016 for Mac.

Tom Gewecke said...

Some people seem to get results they can accept for Thai by using a particular font, see

https://discussions.apple.com/thread/6485060

Mac said...

Thanks, Tom. I've not experienced the Word-to-PDF problems mentioned in the discussion you linked. Instead, using either PSL (http://www.fontpsl.com/webpage/home/index.php) or Apple's own Unicode fonts, my own frustrations with Word have been "limited" to occasionally misplaced diacritics and, far more crucially, Word 2011's inability to even intelligently guess the proper placement of line breaks in Thai.

Granted, this is especially challenging in a language written without spaces between words, but Apple's TextEdit and Pages, as well as Microsoft's own Word for Windows have no such problems. Neither did Word 5.1a (with Mac Os'es 7-9), but that was before Unicode which for most other applications made everything that much easier.

Here's hoping that Office 2016 will have finally addressed this problem.

Tom Gewecke said...

Thanks for the link to all the thai fonts. Yes, linebreaks are a big problem for apps that don't use thai linebreak dictionary built into OS X. I think that is the main reason why Word never lists Thai or similar scripts in its list of supported keyboards. Word for Mac 2016 no longer has this list in its Help.

If there some way to test thai line breaking without knowing any thai, I'd be happy to test it for you.

Mac said...

Readers: Via private emails, I sent Tom a random page of Thai text with all spaces removed. (The original had spaces between a few words, and while there are no grammar rules for this, Thai writers often do add occasional spaces for aesthetic reasons.) Tom pasted my .txt file into Word 2016, saved the result to PDF, and returned that to me, from which I was able to confirm that Word 2016 is no better at Thai linebreaks than Word 2011 or 2004.

Clearly then, even in its latest incarnation Microsoft Word for Mac remains one of the apps that does not use the Thai linebreak dictionary built into OS X.

A pity, as I much prefer Word to Pages, but for now the process remains "create in Pages, export to Word." Seems silly, especially when Thai linebreaks in Word for Windows have always worked fine.

Mac said...

Hopefully, the latest update for Word for iOS, which includes the following fix, also portends good news for Office 2016.

Microsoft Word for iPhone
Version 1.11, 324 MB
Jul 23, 2015

New in this update:

• Bi-directional and complex script languages: now supports bi-directional text editing and complex script for Arabic, Hebrew, and Thai.

• Office for iPhone now supports bidirectional text editing and complex script for Arabic, Hebrew, and Thai languages.

To test it, on my iPhone I pasted the same "Thai - no spaces.txt" file into a blank doc in Word for iOS version 1.11 and then exported that document to PDF. The resulting linebreaks are exactly as they should be, with no fractured words.

Fingers crossed that the same refinement will soon to come to Office 2016!