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Sunday, 3 April 2016

RTL on Office 2016 Mac –Finally, Third-party RTL Keyboards and Syriac Fonts Now Work! But… the fix is not from Microsoft

Third-party RTL Keyboards
I reported on 10 March 2016 that third-party or ‘custom’ (non-Apple) RTL keyboards, like Syriac, Hebrew TH and Biblical Hebrew Sil, are not recognised as RTL in Office 2016 Mac. They are treated as ‘English’ in the language bar, and type Left to Right. They also will not activate the RTL/LTR buttons.

I found, actually tripped over, a solution. Apple keyboards are in a folder with a file extension called ‘.bundle’, while third-party keyboards have the file extension ‘.keylayout’. Apple keyboards also have a language associated with them. Guess what? Third-party keyboards work if you link the keyboard with a language, and save it as ‘.bundle’. 

I have no idea why Office 2016 Mac is looking only for .bundle and not .keylayout, and whether they may change it in the future. And let me reiterate, all these keyboards work just fine in Mellel and LibreOffice.

So how do you do this link a language to a keyboard and change it with file extension 'bundle'? With an application (free) called ‘Ukelele’ (yes, that’s the spelling and yes, it’s not the correct way to spell the instrument). By the way, there are no shortcuts. You can't change the extension in Finder and hope. And you MUST associate the keyboard with a language. 

Here are the instructions. They may seem complicated, but they aren't really, I've just included a lot of pictures.

1.     Download and install the Ukelele app here: http://scripts.sil.org/cms/scripts/page.php?site_id=nrsi&id=ukelele

The download looks like this.

Ukelele is a Unicode Keyboard Layout Editor (free) for Mac OS X. It’s very safe, and widely used to create custom keyboards.

2.     Make sure you have your third-party keyboard in the Input Source menu, by clicking the Flag in the upper right of your screen. If your keyboard is there, go to #3 below.

For example, let’s change the Syriac keyboard layout. Right now, it’s not one of the Input Sources under the Flag.

Go to System Preferences/Keyboards/Input Sources. Click the ‘+’.

The Syriac keyboard, like most third-party keyboards that aren’t working, will be in ‘Others’. Highlight Syriac JChill and click ‘Add’.

3.     Go to the Input Source menu at the top of your screen (the Flag), and click on the Syriac keyboard.

4.     In the Applications menu, open Ukelele.app

5.     In Ukelele, go to File/New From Current Input Source

6.     In the popup menu, you will see the name of your keyboard. Notice that there is no language associated with the keyboard. Click on the button called ‘Language’.

7.     In the first section, ‘Language (required)’ find the language you want to associate with your keyboard. In this case, Syriac. Click ‘OK’.

8.     The keyboard will now have a language associated with it. Click on the red button button in the upper left corner of the popup to exit.  

9.     Give your keyboard a title in ‘Save As:’. Store it in a temporary area like Desktop. ***And this is the most important. In File Format make sure it is set to ‘Keyboard Layout Bundle, and NOT Keyboard Layout. Click ‘Save’. You will see that your Syriac keyboard now has the file extension ‘.bundle’.

10.  Open Finder and go to Go to Macintosh HD/Library/Keyboard Layouts. Drag and Drop or Copy and Paste the keyboard.bundle into this file.

11.  Now, go to the Flag and click Open Keyboard Preferences. Remove your third-party keyboard by clicking the ‘-‘. Then click the ‘+’. You will see that there is a new menu item called ‘Syriac’. If your keyboard.bundle was Hebrew, it will be in the Hebrew menu. Click on Syriac, find your keyboard and click ‘Add’.

Now try your keyboard, and you will see that it works just fine! And now the third-party keyboards activate the LTR/RTL buttons!

Syriac Fonts in Office 2016 Mac Version 15.20

I suggested in the last post (29/3/2016) that if you want to use Syriac in Office 2016 Mac, don’t upgrade to Version 15.20, but stay with 15.19.1.  This is still a good idea and the above fix for third-party keyboards works in this version as well.  

But another accidental discovery that I made allows you to work with Syriac fonts in Version 15.20. The secret? Save your Word Document as extension .doc and NOT .docx. The fonts work perfectly.  Warning: you must save it to a .doc file when you first use the Syriac fonts, and every time after. Otherwise, Word will revert to Estrangelo Edessa. 

And another warning: this is not a long-term solution. .doc and .docx are very different animals and you will be inviting a rash of compatibility issues. Microsoft Word experts everywhere are cringing at the thought. But .doc does the trick!

Have a great week!


Tuesday, 29 March 2016

RTL on Office 2016 Mac – Syriac Users Don’t Upgrade to Version 15.20

Yes, there is another issue with Office 2016 Mac. But there is hope! Microsoft has responded to my queries in their forum, and are very interested in making RTL work properly on Office 2016 Mac. Thanks to MVP John McGhie for getting things rolling. Fingers crossed.

To save you going through the detail, here is the bottom line: if you intend to include Syriac in your documents using a font OTHER than Estrangelo Edessa, then I recommend that you DO NOT update to Version 15.20 of Office 2016 Mac. The Meltho fonts do not display or save properly. If you have already updated, then reinstall Office 2016 from a backup. As of last evening, uninstalling and reinstalling Office 2016 Mac also works; it is still Version 15.19.1. Complete uninstall instructions are here: https://support.office.com/en-gb/article/Uninstall-Office-2016-for-Mac-eefa1199-5b58-43af-8a3d-b73dc1a8cae3

Why? – And now for the details
When you use the Syriac fonts I listed from Meltho (e.g. Serto Batnan), then save and reopen the document with an RTL language activated (the LTR/RTL buttons show), the original fonts will not be displayed, but appear as Estrangelo Edessa. No doubt the reason is that Estrangelo Edessa, although one of the Meltho fonts, is also in the Apple Bundle.

Here is what happens in screenshots.

When you first type in one of the Syriac fonts with RTL activated, all is well. Here is an example Serto Batnan font. I have set it as a Character Style. One red arrow points to the text using the font, one shows the activated Character Style, and one to the Font identification in the ribbon. The font is displaying correctly and is correctly identified as Serto Batnan. The blue arrow shows that the LTR/RTL buttons are showing, which means RTL is activated.

If I save the document and reopen it with an RTL language activated, i.e. with the buttons showing, this is what is displayed.

The Serto Batnan font is now displayed and identified as Estrangelo Edessa! For whatever reason, Word cannot ‘see’ the Serto Batnan font and is defaulting to something it can. Estrangelo Edessa, though one of the Meltho fonts, is also a font in the Apple Bundle, so Word 2016 Mac seems to default to it.  

The ‘Current Style’ now reads Serto Batnan + (Complex) Estrangelo (Red Arrows) in Current Style. The Font is identified as Estrangelo Edessa in the Ribbon (Red Arrow). The Estrangelo Edessa font as noted above, is in the Apple bundle, which no doubt explains why it defaults to this display. The blue arrow shows that RTL is activated.

Now, if I deactivate (no buttons, blue arrow) all Apple RTL languages (Language & Regions) and all Apple RTL Keyboards (Input Sources), the Serto Batnan font, ironically enough, displays correctly and is correctly identified as Serto Batnan (Red arrow).

 Syriac Font Saving
Saving the document with Syriac fonts is a bit tricky. You can save the reopened document with the ‘wrong’ Estrangelo Edessa font displayed as long as you save it to the same named file. When you reopen with RTL deactivated, it will be correct. However, you cannot save it to a file with a different name, or to one with another extension, like a pdf.

Font Workaround
The best workaround is to revert to 15.19.1. Even though there are no buttons, RTL works correctly. The Syriac fonts display correctly even with an RTL file activated, and can be saved as another file name or a pdf.

Miscellaneous Benefit
Reverting to 15.19.1 allows you to use a Macro to directly set a font with the font window rather than styles.

I’ll let you know as soon as Microsoft corrects the issues and fingers crossed that they do, and it is soon.