Strange Loop

Wait, it does ??tahW: How supporting Right-to-Left can expose your bad UX decisions

When you are forced to reconsider your product's UX to account for the needs of some languages, you are better suited to confront the underlying issues that hurt your interface for all.

As the popularity and reach of Open Source grows, so does the need to support more languages, scripts, and directions. One of the most challenging problems in language support is dealing with languages that are Right-to-Left, where the effects are not just limited to translations, scripts and fonts, but also require a complete change of thinking about how and where to place almost every single element of your product on the screen.

Right-to-Left support helps the creators of a product — developers, designers, product managers, etc — expose usability concerns that could be fixed to make the lives of your users better, regardless of what language (and direction) they speak.

This lecture will focus on the common challenges involved in supporting i18n in general and Right-to-Left in particular when building user interfaces. It will showcase examples of how, by working towards supporting solutions for these challenges, we can uncover underlying problems with the interface in general, and how we can fix them. Fixing those issues doesn't just mean supporting the important goal of making your software reachable and inclusive - it also means making your code stronger, and your user experience smoother.

Moriel Schottlender

Moriel Schottlender

Wikimedia Foundation

Moriel is a physicist turned Software Engineer who speaks and thinks right-to-left. In 2013, she joined the Wikimedia Foundation as a Google Summer of Code intern, focusing on developing tools that enable right-to-left language support in their visual editor. She stayed, and is currently working in Wikimedia's Collaboration team, creating great Web interfaces that make right-to-left speakers happy. Moriel has been speaking about right to left and open source since 2013. She has presented "BiDi in the Wild: Challenges of the Unicode BiDi algorithm" ( at the 2016 Unicode Conference, a lecture "Wait, ?tahW: The Twisted Road to Right-to-Left Language Support"( at 2015, as well as a similar Tech Talk at the Wikimedia Foundation ( and a talk about Open Source initiatives and the Wikimedia Foundation projects at "She Codes" at the Google campus in Tel Aviv.