Erased cells

Most terminal emulators distinguish erased (this is the ECMA-48 terminology; can also be called unused or empty) cells from spaces, e.g. they don’t copy-paste anything from there. The screen initially consists of erased cells, they appear at the bottom when scrolling, they appear on the escape sequence that clears to the end of the line etc.

In cooked mode (e.g. when typing to cat), when the user enters something but then erases it by pressing Backspace, technically the terminal emulator receives space characters to overwrite the previous ones. That is, initially erased cells get replaced by spaces.

Luckily, the BiDi algorithm places trailing logical whitespaces to the trailing side of the rendered string. That is, when shuffling the cells according to the BiDi algorithm, this difference of erased cells vs. space characters remains invisible to the user.

In both implicit and explicit modes, erased cells are mapped to the end (according to the paragraph direction) of the line, in the order according to this direction. (This matters e.g. if the cursor is there, or the mouse is clicked.) For example: if the terminal is 80 characters wide, a line has RTL direction, and in this line the first 60 cells of the model contain actual characters and the last 20 cells are erased, then the first 60 cells are mapped somehow to the rightmost 60 columns, the model’s 61st cell is mapped to the visual 61st cell from the right (20th from the left), the model’s last (80th) cell is mapped to the leftmost column.

Trailing erased cells cannot only occur at the end of paragraphs, they can also occur at end of lines mid-paragraph. One example is when the window is made wider and the emulator doesn’t rewrap the lines; it probably adds erased cells there. Another example is when a double wide character didn’t fit in the last column, so had to be wrapped to the next line, leaving a single erased cell at the end of the previous line. Such erased cells should be ignored when feeding the paragraph’s contents to the BiDi algorithm (just as they should be ignored when copy-pasting, searching etc.), and should also be skipped when rendering the result (so that each character remains in its row, and still no wide character is cut in half).