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Thursday, April 24, 2014

Friday, February 10, 2012
StarTech

Bangla in everyday computing

Photo: Rashed Sumon

Our thoughts and feelings are best expressed through native language, in our case Bangla, and to do that what other media could be better than blogs and social media. With the massive explosion of the online social space the urge for using Bangla as the preferred communication language among Bangladeshis has also grown.

Bangla typing is getting easier every day after it got enlisted to the Unicode- a computing industry standard for the consistent encoding, representation and handling of text expressed in most of the world's writing systems.

Unicode combines more than 65,000 signs while ASCII (American Standard Code for Information Interchange), a technique of translating human language into machine (computer) language, has only 256 signs, so all languages of the world and all of its symbols can be accommodated in Unicode (mapping).

With Unicode, Bangladeshi developers have broken the barriers for Bangla computing. Hence, we now can write our facebook statuses, blogs, tweets, e-mail and what not in Bangla and there are plenty of ways to doing these.

Avro Keyboard is probably the most popular at present. Using Unicode, the system supports different keyboard lay-outs as well as Unicode phonetics.

Avro was created by Omicorn Lab in March 26, 2003. Ever since, it is making Bangla typing easy for the users.

Its latest products include Avro Keyboard Standard Edition 5.1.0 with Bangla spell checker; Avro Keyboard Portable Edition, the first ever Bangla software with portability with all the necessary features of Avro Keyboard, but it doesn't require any installation, any font, and any administrator access to the computer. You can carry it in portable devices such as an USB flash drives or iPods, its website reads.

The company is reportedly working on Bangla typing for Android and other OS driven devices.

Then there is Bijoy. Owned by Mustafa Jabbar, Ananda Computers marketed the Bijoy keyboard layout in 1988. This was the most popular keyboard layout in Bangladesh in the 90s. Bijoy was an ASCII based Bangla input software and required a licence to use on computers. Later, it introduced some free packs and included Unicode fonts in 2005.

There are some websites that provide tools to convert traditional Bangla to Unicode/simplified Bangla and vice versa. These sites help you type in Bangla even if you don't have any typing software. However, if you can't see Bangla fonts, you have to download those from the sites. These sites also have different Bangla fonts, keyboard lay-outs, tips on writing and more. You can copy your Bangla sentence from there and paste it to facebook or other sites.

ekushey.org, bnwebtools.sourceforge.net, bangla.org.bd, sadakhata.binhoster.com, bengali.changathi.com are few of those. You can try them or of course you have the liberty to search online for the stuff that suite your need most.

And there is Google, always there for you. The tech giant too offers you Bangla. If you go to google.com.bd, on the right side of the search field you will see a keyboard icon. Click on that and you will be able to write in Bangla and also get an onscreen (phonetic) keyboard. The search results will also be in Bangla.

With the advancement of technology, we want Bangla not only on our computers but also on our hand-held devices, such as smartphones or tablets.

You can now write Bangla on your iPhone or iPad. There are many free and paid apps at the appstore that let you type Bangla, such as Bangla Editor, Bangla Transliteration and Onscreen Keyboard, which allow you to type in phonetic, after that you can just copy paste the text.

Writing Bangla in Android devices is still a bit tricky. We heard of an android app that lets you type Bangla on the Android devices. Go to Android market and search for Mayabi Keyboard and give it a shot. May be you will be able to write Bangla on your android device.

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