Indic Language support across platforms

This computer age requires us to write using a PC/Mobile device every now and then. Most of us can type in the default English language input methods supported across platforms. Now a days, the operating system environments are  expanding horizons where we find many flavors of OS across devices. The most common environments being the Microsoft’s Windows, Apple’s Mac OS and various GNU/Linux based distributions like Ubuntu, Fedora, openSUSE, Linux Mint, Archlinux and so on.On the mobile devices front, Apple’s IOS and Google’s Android are now the leading OS. Symbian, Blackberry OS and Windows Mobile are the other notable operating systems that power our mobile phones and Tablets. When we talk about input methods, many of us don’t even think beyond the default option of English input. But we can very easily enable support for our own native languages. There are many software solutions which allow us to type in many Indic languages, e.g., Hindi, Malayalam, Tamil, Gujarati, Assamese, Bengali and many more. I will briefly introduce some of the methods for input in Indian languages in different platforms (I don’t have a Mac, so I will not talk about it Winking smile). 

Microsoft Windows is undoubtedly the most widespread OS and there are several free and paid solutions available. Notable among them are:

Lipikaar (Visit  http://www.lipikaar.com for more details and download) provides a software for windows and a free Firefox browser add-on to enable Indian Language input (See this link ). Lipikaar interface is very simple and the phonetic input does not require one to have special training.

Avro Keyboard:  This is a free software and works quite well. Download this free tool from : http://www.omicronlab.com/avro-keyboard.html 

Baraha: Baraha comes in Free and Paid Versions(with premium features). The free version is sufficient for basic Indian Language input. Downloads and details can be obtained from the Baraha Website : http://www.baraha.com

GNU/Linux environment also have many solutions. The Ibus Input Method is the one I prefer to use when it comes to input in my own Assamese Language in openSUSE 12.1 OS. The m17n library provides language support for many Indian languages and this library can be used with Ibus to get Indian language support under GNU/Linux.

In Ubuntu, Ibus, Ibus-gtk, m17n-library, and the m17n contributed packages can be installed via the software center. I installed these packages in my openSUSE 12.1 system using the Yast Software Management Tool. After successful installation of these packages, a reboot is required to use the Ibus input method.

I also use my own language (Assamese, অসমীয়া) in my Android phone. Android offers a lot of apps through the Google Play store (formerly known as the Android Market). Though the number of apps is fewer as compared to Apple’s App store,  there are lot of apps; paid as well as free. The Multiling Keyboard (search Play Store to get download options) is a very good free app which makes it very easy to input in many languages including Indian Languages such as Hindi, Bengali and Assamese. The functionality of the app can be extended using various freely available plugins for the app.

I hope this brief introduction about options for input in our own languages for various platforms will at least make the readers aware of the software solutions available. Please give them a try!

Written by,

Neel Kalita

Published on, May 3, 2012
Neel Kalita is a hobbyist blogger with interests in technology, science and photography. He is very enthusiastic tech user and finds deep interest in tinkering with software products. He likes to take macro shots of flowers. He is also efficient in creating digital graphic designs. Professionally, he is a food analyst and involved in quality assurance and analysis of food. He holds a PhD in Chemistry with specialization in Materials Chemistry.

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