Tech Focus |
Exploring the base of Bangla in computers
Saad Bin Fazle Hammadi
WITH the development of software and fonts in Bangla to make the process of communication faster and easier among the local community, it is expected that people will become user-friendly using local language.
Our neighbour India has already taken measures to make their language popular and beneficial to their nation. In a poor country that lacks educational skills, implementation of local language in new technologies could be a weapon to eliminate poverty and other deficiencies.
A recent research has shown some well-organised Bangla softwares helpful in daily use of computers. Akkhor Bangla, Avro Keyboard, Bangla Express, Interactive Dictionary and Online Bangla Obhidhan are examples of such products that are worth taking a look.
Akkhor Bangla: Developed by an eighteen-year-old tech genius Khan Md Anwarus Salam, Akkhor Bangla won the first prize in BCS Software Competition in 2003. Promoted and sponsored by Bangladesh Online Limited, at present the software is available in markets and also at www.akkhorbangla.com. Akkhor Bangla allows users to type words in Bangla with English letters without defining any Bangla font at the user interface. Predefined Bangla fonts are installed with the installation of the software. The software allows users to send emails in Bangla that the receipient receives as images. The software supports Unicode and includes a word processor. Unicode provides a unique number for every character regardless of the platform, programme or language. It also contains a Bangla keyboard manager, type tutor, calendar, media player and a converter. A dictionary is expected to be included in the software and is still under development. A converter in the software edits documents written in other Bangla fonts and software.
Talking to The Daily Star, Khan said he put in three years behind the development of the software and was finally released to the market on April 14, 2004.
Avro Keyboard: Devloped by Mehdi Hassan, a young student of Mymensingh Medical College this software is another exposition of talents within the nation. Mehdi's first Bangla font, Unibijoy was programmed with dot net framework and visual basic, but later, he developed Avro Keyboard without using the dot net framework for user convenience. Avro Keyboard is completely Unicode compliant and supports 90 per cent of the revolutionary Bijoy Keyboard. The software was verified by Unicode Consortium on June 14, 2003 and added to their useful resource list. He named his software company -- Omicronlab and finally released the software on September 15, 2003 through his website www.omicronlab.com. The latest version of Avro was released on April 15 this year and is also available online. The software is compatible with Windows 2000 and later versions of Windows. Open type fonts (OTF) allow users to type Bangla and English in the same font but keyboard mode has to be changed. With Avro keyboard it is possible to type Bangla and English in a single sentence in MSN Messenger.
Bangla Express: Systech Digital developed a web service that facilitates users sending emails in Bangla. Users only need an email address to register at this site -- www.banglaexpress.org. After signing up, users are presented with a compose layout, where the Bangla characters are given so that users are capable of writing emails in Bangla just by clicking the mouse even without a Bangla keyboard. The font used in this site is 'Boishakhi' developed by Samsuddoha Ranju, senior executive engineer, Seimens Bangladesh Limited. No additional software is required for using this service and can be used with existing email addresses.
Interactive Dictionary: Interactive Dictionary BE claims to be the first digital dictionary developed by Bangaliana, a local software company, where users are capable of saving English meanings of Bangla words and corresponding notes in PDF format. The dictionary has built-in Bangla interface for writing in Bangla. Typing Bangla is easy in this software with Virtual Bangla Keyboard. A voice encoder is also incorporated in the dictionary for pronunciation of English words and sentences. Bangaliana also presents an 'English Talking' programme with this dictionary to read out word documents (DOC), web pages (HTML/HTM) or documents in RTF, TXT formats. It can read Clipboards too. The software is available at BCS Computer City and costs Tk.180.
Online Bangla Obhidhan: Another production of Systech Digital is this web-based dictionary, available at www.bangladict.org. This dictionary contains more than 36,000 Bangla words. It is compatible with all the operating systems that are currently in use and also compatible with all browsers, which thereby eliminates the installation of additional fonts.
Studying these amazing software unveiled some brilliant tech minds of the country that are devoting their precious time and putting in a lot of effort in the development of local language in Information Technology. To highlight some young talents we appreciate the work of Khan Md Anwarus Salam and Mehdi Hasan who have developed excellent software worth using.
Professional software teams are on continuous updates and upgrades with new technologies and trying to make the use of local language in their products essential in making the best use of computers in regional areas. Majority of our population is still lacking literacy and that is why Bangla language in computers is necessary to build the foundation at the initial stage.