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Making Liferay Portal 6.2 RTL friendly - The Right to Left plugin

Company Blogs May 29, 2014 By Eduardo P. Garcia Staff

Middle Eastern languages, such as Hebrew and Arabic, are written predominantly right-to-left (RTL). However, many sites written RTL also have left-to-right (LTR) content mixed in, making them bidirectional in nature. Conveniently, browsers use language and direction information of HTML tags to automatically adapt and align page content. However, sites may consist of elements that are absolutely positioned on the page by a style sheet; these elements aren't automatically aligned by the browser. Rather, you must adapt your style sheets to handle such elements. Since style sheets are usually designed for LTR languages, the typical challenge is creating alternative versions of the CSS for RTL languages. This can be an arduous task.
A few weeks ago our colleague Iliyan described on his blog how automatic adjustment to RTL will be supported out of the box in future Liferay Portal versions. In this blog we introduce the “Right to Left” plugin, a new Liferay application that automatically adapts Liferay Portal 6.2 styles for RTL languages.

Using the Right to Left plugin

To test how the Right to Left plugin works, lets create a simple site with one page and one single content translated to several languages, including LTR and RTL ones.

Before installing the Right to Left plugin, try to set your user language to Arabic or Hebrew. You’ll notice that some elements (such as paragraphs) are mirrored to match the RTL orientation. But some others (dockbar, images…) aren’t.

Now install the Right to Left plugin and reload the page. This time, every element on the page is mirrored for a full RTL experience.

Support for custom plugins

The simple test described above works fine with Liferay Portal default theme and portlets. But if you are using any custom plugins, such a theme, you will notice that its styles are not fully mirrored.

In order to provide full RTL support in custom plugins, developers have to go through a few steps described in the technical documentation of the Right to Left plugin. Then, once the plugin is redeployed its elements will be displayed mirrored for RTL languages (for LTR languages, they will be displayed as usual).

Fine style tuning for RTL languages

Through the steps described in the previous section, the styles in a custom plugin are automatically adapted so that the page elements are mirrored for RTL languages. This automatism covers most of the common scenarios. But developers can override it, so that they define how the page elements should behave for RTL languages.

For example, observe the header of our sample theme. It contains a line with hands pointing to the appropriate reading direction. But even after a developer has adapted the theme for RTL languages, the hands still point to the initial direction. Thanks to the overriding mechanism provided by the Right to Left plugin, our developer is able to set an alternative image for RTL languages only.

The same mechanism could be applied to force an element to be right or left aligned for both LTR and RTL languages, for example.

The Right to Left plugin is coming soon to our Marketplace. Enjoy it!

Did you know...?

The topic "The City  of Three Cultures" that was used for the screenshots in this blog refers to the time when Jewishs, Muslims and Christians coexisted peacefully in the city of Toledo, the ancient capital of Spain. Back then, king Alfonso X "The Wise" employed Jewish, Christian and Muslim scholars at his court, primarily for the purpose of translating books from Arabic and Hebrew into Latin and Castilian. This group of scholars formed his royal scriptorium, known as the "Escuela de Traductores de Toledo" (Toledo School of Translators). 

Threaded Replies Author Date
Thanks for that tutorial. Raffy Theiss May 29, 2014 10:11 PM
Very nice to connect this awesome plugin with... Manuel de la Peña June 3, 2014 12:39 PM
Great Arcko Duan June 5, 2014 4:40 AM

Thanks for that tutorial.
Posted on 5/29/14 10:11 PM.
Very nice to connect this awesome plugin with one of the most beautiful cities in the world!! Loved it!!!
Posted on 6/3/14 12:39 PM.
Posted on 6/5/14 4:40 AM.