EKAVI and Kannada Software Development

ella kannadaabhimanigala antarrashtriya vedike in

Minutes of meeting on Kannada Software held at CIIL on May 25th 2004 in Mysore

Posted by egovindia on August 7, 2006

—————-
Forwarded Message:
Subj: Kannada Software
Date: 6/11/2004 2:33:51 AM Pacific Daylight Time
From: halemane1@rediffmail.com
To: NovaMed@aol.com
Sent from the Internet (Details)

Dear Kumarswamy,

I am here with sending the Minutes of meeting on Kannada Software which was held at Central Institute of Indina Language, Mysore on 25-04-2004.

Kindly see the attachment.

With regrds
Lingadevaru Halmane

—————————————————————————–
Minutes of the meeting on Kannada Software

A meeting was convened on 25-05-04 at Central Institute of Indian Languages, Mysore to discuss some of the issues related to Kannada Software. Following members had attended the meeting.

1. Sri. Purnachandra Tejaswi – Famous writer, Mudigere

2. Prof. B.N. Sreeram – Publisher, Mysore

3. Dr. Pavanaja – CEO, Vishwa Kannada.com, Bangalore

4. Dr. Sreenatha Shastry – Karnataka Ganaka Parishat, Bangalore

5. Sri. Satyanarayana – Software Engineer, Bangalore

6. Shivakumar – Editor, Aparanji

7. Dr. Sharada – CIIL, Mysore

8. Dr. Panditharadhya – Karnataka Ganaka Parishat, Mysore

9. Sri. Lingadevaru Halemane – CIIL, Mysore, Convener of the meeting

In addition to the above participants, we had invited the following persons.

1. Sri. Rajaram – Nava Karnataka Publications, Bangalore

2. Sri. Gyanesh – Software Engineer, Bangalroe

3. Sri. Prasad – Software Engineer, Bangalore.

4. Dr. B. Mallikarjun – CIIL, Mysore

However, they did not attend the meeting owing to other engagements.

Background to call the meeting.

Sri. Purnachandra Tejaswi was worried about some of the problems being faced by the users of Kannada Software. He had contacted me and invited me to his place to discuss about those problems and find out solutions for them. On his request I along with Prof. B.N. Sreeram went to his place and had a detail discussion about the problems that he had faced with. At the end of the discussion, we could delineate the problems as follows.

1. Users Interface across Existing Softwares.

Instead of creating altogether an exclusive word processor for Kannada Language, efforts should be made to bring users interface with already existing standard softwares such as page maker, win word etc.

2. Original Commands to be continued to be used.

There is a tendency to translate the computer commands into Kannada Language. Though it is called as Kannada Language, in reality these commands are replaced with much alien Sanskrit terminologies. They are difficult to understand than the existing English Commands. Whoever is using the computer is familiar with the original commands. These commands not only familiar but also frequently used. Hence it is recommended that there is no need to translate the commands into Kannada Language. They can only be transliterated into Kannada Script.

3. Introduce Unicode.

It should preferably in Unicode. At present only ‘Baraha’ and ‘Nudi’ are Unicode compatible.

4. Create filters to import files.

Provide filters to import all files created by other major softwares.

5. Key board Drivers.

Different software are used by different people. Users may not be familiar with the key board drives as they have different designs, and patterns. Hence it is recommended that each design should be provided its own key board driver to facilitate the user. It may be mentioned here that the Government of Karnataka has standardized the key boards to be used for computers. The same may be accepted by all manufacturers, vendors etc.

6. Create custom key board layout.

Create custom key board layout for the user to make any adjustment, whenever unique requirements are needed. Vendors have also introduced their own layouts along with existing key board layouts. This has resulted in many key board layouts. However, when a particular user wants any adjustment in the key board design due to any special reason, there should be provision for that.

7. Open Source Initiative.

The source code used to develop this software would be freely available on the internet on the lines of Linux Open Source Initiative.

The significance of Open Source is,

a) Due to the perpetual expansion of possibilities, the usage of Kannada software is bound to come across with new and unknown requirements. If freely available any user can upgrade with the free source code to suit their need. The user can then Introduce his changes back to the open source, so that this will aid other users as well. this will help continuously to expand the usage of Kannada to all fields.

Since it is free, common usage of Kannada software will increase.

c) There will be a collective participation in the development of the software by all users of Kannada.

A permanent Screening committee under the IT Ministry, has to be formed to administer the new upgrades to the free source code. This is very important, since various users could introduce many changes and upgrades. This committee will screen, evaluate and incorporate the changes.

Sri. Purnachandra Tejaswi suggested at the end of the discussion, whether I could convene a broader meeting at the Central Institute of Indian Languages to share these issues with other persons who are interested in the development of Kannada Software. I readily agreed to his proposal and listed out the persons to be invited for the meeting. Accordingly this meeting was convened at CIIL, Mysore, on 25th May 2004.

Resolutions of the meeting.

The issues which were already identified by me and Sri. Tejaswi were taken up for discussion one by one. Dr. Pavanaja took active role in explaining the knitty gritties involved with the issues.

Issue No. 1 (Please refer back to the issues)

Dr. Pavanaja said that, this is taken care by Microsoft. Hindi UI is already released for office and windows. Kannada and other languages are in the pipeline. He was optimistic that other software companies will follow suite. He further added that there should be a provision to change UI words for our language. This is possible in Linux. Similar facility should be given by windows also. Every one suggested sending requests to Adobe, Corel and other Software makers to give UI in Kannada. Members suggested that similar request also should go from Directorate of Information Technology (DIT), Government of Karnataka. (GOK)

Issue No. 2

Dr. Pavanaja red out some portions of his article “Writing about IT in Kannada”. Dr. Shivakumar and Sri. Tejaswi were of the opinion that on-screen command words (UI elements) such as file, save, exit etc., should be retained in English only. They have to be written in Kannada script. Dr.Panditharadhya and Sri. Satyanarayana did not agree with the above suggestions. According to them if this logic is accepted then why not use English commands in English Script itself. Pavanaja demonstrated the new tool-tip tool from Microsoft which is used with Office and Windows Hindi versions. A balloon tool-tip with English translation of the Hindi command will pop-up once the mouse is moved over any Hindi word on the menu and dialog boxes. Members appreciated this facility. There was a prolonged discussion on what to translate, what not to translate, how to translate, etc. Finally everyone agreed to follow the middle path. Everyone present agreed that there is a need to standardize the terms. They appreciated the step taken in this direction by Microsoft by launching the community glossary. There was some apprehension whether the words contributed by the community will become the property of Microsoft and people will have to pay MS for using them. Pavanaja clarified this doubt and assured that no such thing is possible. The words belong to the community and will remain so, according to Pavanaja. Members were happy with that statement.

Issue No. 3

All new generation OS, platform, Database, development tools support employing Unicode in Windows XP/2003, Office XP/2003, SQL Server, Share point, Visual Studio.NET, etc. Once can develop an application employing Unicode without the help of any other tools. There is no need of Nudi or Baraha. In fact, Nudi and Baraha have just Unicode compatible keyboard drivers. They don’t provide open type font which is required to display the Unicode text. Another fact is that their Unicode compatible keyboard driver (other name for IME) works only on Windows XP and 2003, which have Kannada built-in. That means, the Unicode of Nudi and Baraha are redundant.

Pavanaja explained the need to have more professional quality open type fonts for Kannada. He detailed the working of Unicode and open type fonts. He did some demonstrations. Pavanaja explained the reason behind why commercial font developers not developing open type fonts. According to him, during the pre-Unicode days, the font and the keyboard driver of a vendor were tied to each other. If a person buys a font from a vendor he has to buy the keyboard driver (or IME), font and data are independent of each other. People are at the liberty to use anybody’s IME with anybody’s font. This is the reason why no font vendor is coming forward with open type fonts. But Kannada needs more good professional quality open type fonts. Pavanaja gave suggestion for this problem. The publishing industry and government should pool some resources, create a fund and get some open type fonts made. These fonts should be made available to all. Members appreciated this idea and have agreed to request GoK to take appropriate action.

Issue No. 4

Participants felt it is good suggestion. Baraha has given a font converter utility between major software being used in Kannada. Office XP and 2003 can import ISCII text files and convert them into Unicode.

Pavanaja added that the converters which are in existence convert only plain text files. The need of the hour is to have converters which take RTF and HTML files as input and convert them into Unicode thereby retaining the formatting. This should be another action point for GoK.

Issue No. 5

Pavanaja explained that this keyboard driver is available for download at BhashaIndia.com web-site (http://www.bhashaindia.com/doc/IndicIME1v5.zip). One can also use Baraha and Nudi keyboard drivers which are as per GoK standard.

Members felt that Pavanaja’s reply is adequate and no discussion is needed.

Issue No. 6

There is a keyboard layout creator available for download at Microsoft’s globaldev web-site (http://www.microsoft.com/globaldev/tools/msklc.mspx).

Pavanaja showed a glimpse of the keyboard layout creator. Members felt that Pavanaja’s reply and the demo is adequate and no discussion is needed.

Issue No. 7

Members felt that GoK sponsored Nudi software must be made Open Source Software (OSS). Pavanaja mentioned that Kannada Linux enthusiasts and developers are requesting for the source code of Nudi from last three years but Kannada Ganaka Parishat (KGP) is not giving it out. They are needing the source code of Nudi for implementing the keyboard driver and the sorting algorithm. Srinatha Shastry explained that the source code of Nudi is written in Windows C++ and is of no use to Linux programmers. Pavanaja countered this argument saying that only the Windows APIs used to make Kannada menus may not be of direct use but other modules used to make keyboard driver, sorting, SDK, etc. are definitely of use. Moreover Nudi being a government funded product, tax paying people have a right on the source code. Majority members agreed on this argument except Srinatha Shastry. Tejaswi questioned why KGP has not recommended the GoK to make Nudi OSS. Shastry was evading answering this. Tejaswi also mentioned that the fonts issued along with Nudi are not of professional quality, there is not support mechanism for Nudi, Nudi has many bugs, etc. Pavanaja mentioned that if Nudi is made OSS, passionate developers can fix the bugs in Nudi. Finally it was agreed by all that this committee will recommend to GoK to make Nudi a OSS.

Issue No. 8

It was agreed by all the members. Pavanaja explained that he had written to Mr. Rajiv Chawla, Secretary, E-Governance, Government of Karnataka, about a year ago, requesting to have a permanent committee under DIT which will take care of all issues related to standardization. He also met him a number of times and reiterated this fact.

It is clear that there should be a team consisting of technical and linguistic experts who will help the DIT. With the absence of such a team, wrong recommendations will be sent, as shown in the example above.

Lingadevaru Halemane asked what kind of persons should be members of this committee. Pavanaja opinioned that three kind of people, viz., languages experts, technology experts and people who are experts in both language and technology should be the members of this committee. Everyone agreed on this suggestion.

Closing Observations

Though it was felt the meeting was successful in stirring the hornet’s nest, we could feel there was difference of opinion from the representitives of Ganaka Parishat. They felt that the enlisted issues were not at all issues and they have been taken care of already. They were also not very much responsive in their reactions. There were even mild altercations between Srinatha Shastry and Dr. Pavanaja who were once comrades in arms at Ganaka Parishat. This left the impression among other members that all is not well with Ganaka Parishat and other software companies. At the end of the meeting Srinatha Shastry and Dr. Panditharadhya requested me not to include their names under recommendation but to mention only they have attended the meeting on request.

You are requested to give your feed back regarding the minutes and also to form a technical committee, so that we can send this recommendation to Government of Karnataka.

LINGADEVARU HALEMANE

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