R2rb – Mirroring CSS direction

I’m proud to announce the release of what is possibly the smallest Ruby gem I’ve ever worked on, R2 (R2rb on github, simply r2 on rubygems.org). Anybody who has read my older posts knows that I’m interested in Arabic, and more specifically Arabic information processing. While talking about something unrelated I found out that Dustin Diaz (@deddustindiaz.com) has written a Node.js module called R2 for mirroring the appropriate CSS values needed to alter the directionality of a page. While this isn’t a silver bullet it does do a very good job on pages that have successfully separated presentation from markup (read as: don’t use inline CSS styles).

The code itself is shockingly simple but effective. Dustin already has an example built into his website. Here is the normal page (emphasis added to the demo link):

dustindiaz.com as seen by default

When you click the demo link (pointed to with the Click Me. label) there is a small amount of Javascript that alters the link tag to point the the CSS file that R2 has processed. The resulting page shows the CSS direction change with zero customization:

dustindiaz.com as seen after clicking the arrow

While this is obviously not everything one needs to do for right-to-left support (of note above are the Twitter follow buttons) it’s a good starting point. If you have a large CSS file to start with the alterations can be daunting. I recommend using R2 and then troubleshooting the remaining bugs. I created a Ruby port of R2 in part to improve my understanding of R2 and in part in the hopes of using it in some future Rails project.

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