Monday, August 31, 2009

Computing in Vernacular Language

I enjoy coding and creating business software. When I was in XIMB, I created an accounting system called PAMIS. It was a novel system very useful when you need to do project based accounting. The Panchyati Raj department in Orissa Government found this useful and adopted it for block level accounting. It was the biggest e-governance initiative. Thanks to the keenness of the secretary and the department, it was a very successful project. Subsequently, the department was planning to implement this in Panchayats.

PAMIS was developed with an English Language interface. At the block level it is fine as we have english educated people available. However, in a panchayat English language interface will not work. We now faced the challenge of modifying the software to make it Oriya enabled.

Oriya is available as a part of the Unicode. However, there are not many fonts available. When I researched, I found though Windows XP was multi-lingual, it did not have a Oriya language interface. I found someone in Hyderabad had developed a roundabout way to do data entry in Indian Languages including Oriya. We did a lot lot of experiment with the javascript code to adopt it for Pamis. However, the proposal for GP automation got shelved and my interest in multilingual software also waned.

Recently, S. N. Tripathy who returned to the Panchyati Raj department revived the idea of GP automation. I have again started taking interest in multilingual software. Now, both Windows and Linux have a multilingual language interface. Both systems have an identical way to change the keyboard. Developing software in a Indian Languages is a lot easier. The challenge is to translate business and technical jargon in Oriya. For example, what is the Oriya equivalent of Debit? ଆପଣ ଡେବିଟକୂ ଓଡିଆରେ କଣ କହିଵେ. I used Gnome in Ubuntu to write the above Oriya sentence.

Microsoft was prodded by the Government of Orissa to develop Oriya input for windows. Linux have done it with no prodding. I feel very happy that one can today develop software in Vernacular Language with some ease. The digital divide will reduce considerably because of this reason.


storyteller said...
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storyteller said...

out of all the blogs u have written and i have read this is my favorite one.This is so because i have always had a fasinations to softwares made for commercial purposes.I still remember that in class 8th i had made a small billing softwares for restaurent management using java.My father is a banker and i am always keen to noe more abt his CBS(core banking solution) Pinnacle wich was developed by Infosys.I am really looking forward to learn all i can from u and make sumthing(most probably an application software) wich is useful for the commercial sphere.