Calc seems to assign the alignment of any particular text cell based on the contents of the cell: if the first character is a LTR character, the cell is aligned to the left, and if the first character is RTL, the cell is aligned to the right. This is desirable behavior but it breaks when the first character is neutral, i.e. a character that behaves as RTL in an RTL context and as LTR in a LTR context.
See the attached screenshot where cell A1 "abc" is automatically aligned to the left and cell A2 "ابت" to the right. When I surround these strings with parentheses, which are bidi-neutral characters, in A3 and A4, both are aligned to the left. For some reason, even font metrics break with this assignment, as the last character of the Arabic string overlaps visually with the closing parenthesis (I filed this as a separate issue at https://bugs.documentfoundation.org/show_bug.cgi?id=119960).
In column C, I have copied the contents of column A but changed the directionality setting of cell C4 manually to RTL through Format Cells > Text direction. Here the cell is properly aligned to the right and the closing parenthesis does not overlap with the last character of the string.
According to the Unicode standard, neutral characters should not affect directionality, and that’s what I would expect as a user, too. I think the best solution would be for Calc to skip all neutral characters in the beginning of the string and just consider the first strong character for cell alignment. Even better, Calc could use this heuristics to assign full text directionality for the cell, not just change alignment. Right now, if you start the cell with an RTL character followed by a LTR inset and then continue with RTL again, the substrings are ordered as in a LTR context ("FIRST second THIRD"), not as in true RTL ("THIRD second FIRST").
This bug was first reported for LO 18.104.22.168 on Launchpad at https://bugs.launchpad.net/ubuntu/+source/libreoffice/+bug/1793126 . Another user there confirmed the bug on LO 22.214.171.124 and 126.96.36.199.
Steps to Reproduce:
1. In an empty Calc cell with default directionality, write some text in Arabic enclosed in parentheses.
The cell is automatically aligned to the left.
The cell should be aligned to the right, as parentheses are bidi-neutral and should not affect directionality at all.
User Profile Reset: No
Created attachment 144989 [details]
Screenshot of a Calc sheet which shows wrong default alignment
Apparently this feature was not yet in 3.3.0, but I can already repro in 3.6.7
Arch Linux 64-bit
Arch Linux 64-bit
Version 188.8.131.52 (Build ID: e183d5b)
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Still reproducible on
Build ID: libreoffice-184.108.40.206-snap1
CPU threads: 4; OS: Linux 4.15; UI render: default; VCL: gtk3;
Locale: fi-FI (fi_FI.UTF-8); UI-Language: en-US