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The icon used for italics font in Persian is not italicized
Closed, ResolvedPublicBUG REPORT

Description

At some point in the last few months, the icon used for "italics" font in Visual Editor and source editor both was changed to what is shown below, which itself is not written in italicized font.

image.png (62×58 px, 5 KB)

The previous icon, shown below (the one on the left) was italicized and therefore easier to interpret.

image.png (76×154 px, 7 KB)

Also, pasting the new icon again along with the "bold" icon that appears next to it, you will notice that the new italics icon is larger and therefore looks even bolder than the bold icon, which is counterintuitive. The old version were more distinctive in that regard.

image.png (58×136 px, 6 KB)

Analysis

I understand that the file behind the new icon is located at themes/wikimediaui/images/icons/italic-arab-keheh-jeem.svg and is rendered into the CSS as inline PNG. I also understand that two other versions are located at themes/wikimediaui/images/icons/italic-arab-keheh-jeem-invert.svg and themes/wikimediaui/images/icons/italic-arab-keheh-jeem-progressive.svg and I think all three should be reviewed and compared to the corresponding "bold" icon. What I don't know is which source repository they are in.

Notably, there is a similarly named file on Commons at https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:OOjs_UI_icon_italic-arab-keheh-jeem.svg which is properly italicized (last uploaded 2018) and possibly could be used here.

Acceptance criteria (or Done)

Design

  • Update italic icon in Persian
  • Update icon in our icon system library

Code

  • Update icon in OOUI
  • Update icon in Codex

Event Timeline

@Jdlrobson I have a feeling this all happened after rGVED70c15c80b640ef9ab4e915abed4754bc3bd5345e was done in Jan. Therefore, I am hopeful you can point me to the correct repository so I can submit a patch.

@Volker_E if my intuition above is correct, then this icon change happened in OOUI 43.0 based on what the release notes describe as "Align specific language 'bold*' and 'italic*' icons to guidelines" which has your name in front of it. Can you please point me to said guidelines? I wonder if the guidelines should also be updated to indicate that the italics and bold icons for all languages should themselves be italicized and made bold (which was somehow neglected here for 'fa').

matmarex added a subscriber: matmarex.

The change was made in this commit: https://gerrit.wikimedia.org/r/c/oojs/ui/+/753172 and further context is in T298211, including the guidelines: "use of sans-serif font" and "2 dp thick stroke".

@Huji Our reasoning behind the decision was that fore-mentioned language doesn't have italics as language feature. It's just browser's faux italics that enable it. Therefore we concluded to feature this non-font feature in a more readable manner.

The other part about the bold and italics in comparison is correct, we could increase the size of the bold character risking that it would possibly fall out of design balance with other icons.

@Volker_E I am not entirely sure that is true. Although I cannot readily find the official documentation on it, my recollection is that Persian does have italics, although it is meant to be tilted to the left (opposite of English and other LTR languages in which italics is tilted to the right). However, I believe no browser currently supports that. I believe Arabic also seeks the same, with the distinction that Persian is really governed by one country (Iran) and therefore, that country has developed standards for it, etc. but I am not sure that applies to Arabic. This is not official documentation but gives you the visuals and mentions a CSS v4 proposal too.

Anyway, the reality of the web today is that italics is slanted to the right for Persian too. This includes on the wiki. If the wiki's HTML output uses italics to that effect, and the users are used to seeing the same, then why should the icon be the one and only exception?

The thing is that AFAIK, before computers and internet italic never existed for Persian/Arabic scripts but it existed for Latin scripts and that's why as a native reader, I personally find Persian italics looking weird and not actually conveying much information, e.g. they are not that different from the non-italic (while I agree, Persian italics exists in the web today). I'm not sure if we should use that tbh but can be convinced otherwise. To me, it's like using diacritics for latin text. Sure, it would work but why :P

@Ladsgroup that point is besides what we are discussing here. The reality is, today Persian (and Arabic) do use italics, and so does MediaWiki in those languages, and the icon used to make text italics should look like the italicized text itself so that the user can make the connection easily. This was the case for more than a decade; it is only recently that someone decided to change the icon.

Bit of context: The font, we're using across the icons, Noto Sans is specifically not offering italics variant for the (presumed) reason that Persian isn't meant to be set cursive. The browser is just skewing a non-designed font to look italics (“faux italics”).
For Persian that might go okay-ish, for other languages like Chinese-Japanese-Korean (CJK), that (ahem) US-centric browser feature from early web has really been problematic as it negatively impacts readability.

Example of emphasized text in CJKSet to faux italics by browser
image.png (310×756 px, 181 KB)
image.png (324×782 px, 183 KB)
The is actually the emphasisManual <em>injection</em> 3rd line from top

In general faux italics should be avoided, as the browser does just a catch-up game and the results are from typographic/readability perspective underwhelming.

For me the question is, is the Persian glyph in faux italics harder to read and is it common in other word processors?
Current Persian faux italics in action:

image.png (318×1 px, 79 KB)

It'd be good to have screenshot comparison to other localized word processors and a clearer picture about user expectations.

Yeah, the Language team told us not to transform an 'italicised' icon for ar/fa/etc. for standard usage and readability/usability reasons (but I can't remember who; it was in 2012/13). If that advice is no longer accurate, happy to see it change.

I still don't understand it: if the Language team thinks they have the authority to decide whether italicized text should or should not be used in fa (which I don't agree they have such authority), then why do they only apply this to the icon?

If we strongly think this should be the case, then we should disabled the ''italics'' feature for this language altogether.

Do that, and we will see the backlash from fa community which would put us in our place to realize we (as MediaWiki developers) are not the authority as to how italics is used in each language.

So, with all due respect, I disagree with the 2012/2013 recommendation.

As an aside, the Iran Supreme Council of Information and Communication Technology (SCICT) released a set of 39 fonts about 9 years ago, and these fonts included the bold and italics versions too. Unfortunately, the SCICT website is down now after these years, but you can find the fonts here.

In short, an Iranian authority is officially approving the use of italics fonts. I would argue they supersede WMF's Language team for such decisions.

Bit of context: The font, we're using across the icons, Noto Sans is specifically not offering italics variant for the (presumed) reason that Persian isn't meant to be set cursive. The browser is just skewing a non-designed font to look italics (“faux italics”).

See comment above; SCICT specifically had released Italics (and Bold) versions of some of those 39 fonts, and optimized some for web too. So, while browsers may blindly apply faux italics to any font, in an ideal world users would have those standardized italics fonts installed and see a "designed" (as opposed to "non-designed") output for italics text.

I would say we should use one of those fonts for the 'fa' icons too, but I actually think none of those fonts were made open sourced. I personally don't know of any open-source and free Persian font that has an italicized version. Once we find one, we could use that instead of Noto Sans if we choose so. Until then, we should settle with a faux-italics version of Noto Sans or simply revert to the old icons.

Suggestion to hopefully to help us reach a decision: Let's bring this to the community and discuss it among people who can speak the language. Does that sound good to you?

In general, I am in favor of such suggestions.

Here, however, I think this is such a small issue and a clear misunderstanding of the Language team of what they should or should not have authority on, that I think a faster solution is still possible: the team agrees this wasn't their place to decide, and the icon is changed.

If the team really thinks differently, we can take it to fawiki for discussion and consensus.

I don't think it's just the language team in WMF. When there is no italic version in basically any open-source font (including Google fonts), it means to me that the consensus among typography community is to avoid italic in Arabic scripts. I can also try to ask Shervin and Behdad for this if that would help here (and the community to decide)

@Ladsgroup if the typography community believes so, then we would need to first convince the wiki communities (at least fawiki an arwiki), next eliminate all uses of italics font for Persian and Arabic text on those wikis, and then eliminate the entire italics functionality for those languages.

You see, what you are talking about is a whole other issue.

My point is simple: if MediaWiki allows text to be italicized in language X, then the button it shows for italicizing text in language X should also appear italicized. The typography community's opinion on whether italics is okay to use or not for Arabic script, or WMF Language team's opinion on that, change nothing in that sentence.

FYI, fawiki community has been informed and a consensus is almost certain to be reached here in favor of reverting the icon to its old (italicized) form.

Hi all,

After reviewing all your feedbacks I have updated the Italic icon with italicized form. Also, I have updated the bold-arab-dad icon making it bolder so that when you see it next to the italic icon, the bold icon is more prominent.

Captura de pantalla 2022-02-21 a las 11.52.53.png (282×578 px, 56 KB)

Here you can find the SVG new icons:



cc: @Volker_E

Change 764730 had a related patch set uploaded (by VolkerE; author: VolkerE):

[design/codex@main] icons: Skew 'italic-arab-keheh-jeem' and bolden 'bold-arab-dad' icons

https://gerrit.wikimedia.org/r/764730

Change 764732 had a related patch set uploaded (by VolkerE; author: VolkerE):

[oojs/ui@master] icons: Skew 'italic-arab-keheh-jeem' and bolden 'bold-arab-dad' icons

https://gerrit.wikimedia.org/r/764732

Change 764732 merged by jenkins-bot:

[oojs/ui@master] icons: Skew 'italic-arab-keheh-jeem' and bolden 'bold-arab-dad' icons

https://gerrit.wikimedia.org/r/764732

Change 764730 merged by jenkins-bot:

[design/codex@main] icons: Skew 'italic-arab-keheh-jeem' and bolden 'bold-arab-dad' icons

https://gerrit.wikimedia.org/r/764730

Hi all

I wonder why after almost 4 days the icons are still not showing in the Persian Wikipedia?

@Folklore These icons originate from OOUI as external MediaWiki core library. We need to cut a release and it needs to make it into production.
We'll actually ping on this task when that's going to happen.

@Volker_E Hi
Thank You for your Response I actually was thinking about that too, I would be pleased if you can ping the task
Regards,

bmartinezcalvo updated the task description. (Show Details)
bmartinezcalvo updated the task description. (Show Details)
bmartinezcalvo updated the task description. (Show Details)

Change 770069 had a related patch set uploaded (by Jforrester; author: Jforrester):

[mediawiki/core@master] Update OOUI to v0.43.2

https://gerrit.wikimedia.org/r/770069

Change 770069 merged by jenkins-bot:

[mediawiki/core@master] Update OOUI to v0.43.2

https://gerrit.wikimedia.org/r/770069

Change 770926 had a related patch set uploaded (by Jforrester; author: Jforrester):

[mediawiki/core@REL1_38] Update OOUI to v0.43.2

https://gerrit.wikimedia.org/r/770926

Change 770926 merged by jenkins-bot:

[mediawiki/core@REL1_38] Update OOUI to v0.43.2

https://gerrit.wikimedia.org/r/770926