Here’s a mockup for displaying the languages in the nav drawer as icons.
I’m not entirely happy with the use of the little language codes as we do currently. It’s okay, but I think we can do better.
In MD lists, including nav and dropdowns, it is common to have an icon on the left. I’m wondering whether this can be used for the languages.
In the experiment, I have applied it to the nav drawer only, but in production, it would apply wherever language IDs are used, especially in the language selection dropdowns in the suttaplexes.
Right now it’s just fake icons, but we should use a proper icon set, for example this one:
We can also use a title attribute for the full language name.
Using icons like this would make it clearer what they are; the uniform shape shows that it is the same kind of thing, and they’re shaped like speech bubbles.
The icons just use the ISO codes in latin script. But in the experiment I tried something a little more fun, adding the ISO code for the language in the original or most characteristic script for that language:
- Brahmi for Pali
- Kharosthi for Gandhari
- Tibetan for Tibetan
- Chinese for Chinese (here I used the language name rather than ISO code)
- Devanagari for Sanskrit.
This is meant to be used for original languages only, and would be a way of differentiating original languages from translations.
Obviously it’s not possible to get the metrics right in such a simple mockup. If we were to go down this road, we’d want to create special icons for these.
To me this is a way of paying homage to the rich traditions on which we draw. You could argue, of course, that the use of the scripts makes it more obscure. But I suspect that in practice this won’t be a problem. In some cases, the scripts are pretty well known and should aid rather than hinder identification (Chinese, Sanskrit, Tibetan). For Pali the use of Brahmi is obscure, but I think everyone will find the Pali texts. For Gandhari (and perhaps other obscurities like Tocharian) the ISO code is obscure anyway (who knows what pgd stands for?).
Anyway, let me know if you like this idea. Hopefully it wouldn’t be too hard to get the basic icons from the above source working. If we want to create the specialized icons, maybe we can commission the designer who made these.