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Update: a newer version available here

Well, this issue is a very old one, I’ve always experienced annoying problems each time I try to render Arabic text on run-time using Flash and ActionScript 2.0, Flash doesn’t support right-to-left languages, and when it comes to Arabic, we are talking about proper characters joining and word wrapping ..

I never stopped tracking this specific issue, googling it to find any new solution has been developed somewhere, for a long time I can only find this one, the guy have it perfectly solved, he was having his solution implemented using ActionScript 2.0 at some point earlier, but he stopped publishing that and kept his latest version only, which works with ActionScript 3.0, and for old fashion guys like me he left another version to manually copy proper Arabic text using an AIR application he developed here

Recently, Adobe says that they finally supports right-to-left languages along with bi-directional and complex script ones, only using ActionScript 3.0 and it requires Flash Player 10 or above, they even have an open source framework called Text Layout Framework, it’s perfect actually, it should put an end to this issue, but ..

I have my own objections, I made my quick test to check their new technique here, Arabic text is finally rendered properly, but why we have to add so many childs to our display list from different TextLines and TextBlocks instead of a single TextField? also we have to set a max width, and I couldn’t find a way to scroll through text unless I used a custom scroller and masking the text just like any other MovieClip or DisplayObject, personally, I find this much complicated experience just to display simple string!

I do like ActionScript 2.0 a lot more anyway, not just for handling text easily, but for many other reasons, I can stop to post another article to explain why I’m saying this, right now we need to know what I’ve reached regarding to our issue ..

In a nutshell, ActionScript 2.0 used to refuse right-to-left languages, so we can’t embed fonts, wrap text properly, and when it comes to Arabic text we also see our characters splitted which is inappropriate for Arabic readers, the old solution for this was loading text encoded in UTF-8 from external text/xml files, and still no word wrapping, and on Mac machines Arabic letters still splitted, we can align text but its direction still not right-to-left ..

So, logically, I know that I have to construct my Arabic text manually, to achieve that I had to analyze Arabic rules for character joining with all it’s special cases, and then find a way to force its direction to be left-to-right, and the word wrapping part is not that hard after all, this is basically what I did actually!

My only problem was in finding a way to inject all proper Arabic characters with its unique cases, for a long time I found that very difficult, Flash doesn’t allow me to copy those from other text processing tools, and of course there’s no way to type each character a lone in different cases using keyboard ..

Finally, I found a way to do that, and it was extremely simple! I found these charts at unicode official website, and that’s it! now I can instruct ActionScript 2.0 to handle my Arabic characters properly!

You’re most welcome to use and test my parseArabic method, it supports word wrapping, right-to-left, bi-directional (inline English characters), embedded fonts and custom text formats, here is an example:


download the above example here

The above approach doesn’t support html tags yet, it’s a bit confusing, but as I said, you’re welcome to contribute, your reviews can help improving the code ..
This may help any ActionScript 2.0 loyal friend, and I think the same approach can be used for ActionScript 3.0 as well, I will post that soon ..