Indian Language Transliterators – Part 1

Well, trying to use telugu transliterators online for the past many days and I myself involved in making one, I cannot but resist writing about the Indian Language transliterators available on the web, in my blog. I prefer to keep this post in English for the only reason that – even non-telugus who stumble upon this post will come to know of the different options they have if at all they want to type in Indian languages. Let me tell you that this list is not exhaustive. This includes only those transliterators that I came across during my random walks on the web, with my mouse and its cursor. This is not an indepth study of the programmatic details of the transliterators. I might indeed talk about the program sometime but, then, this is majorly written for awareness about other options and not to tell the technicalities. There are two reasons in writing this post. One being to satisfy myself and the second being – to collect and compare various transliterators so that, not just me-even others might benifit from the “dicourse”.

Caution: All this, I used on Firefox, Fedora Core 5. So, perhaps, the interface might differ on Windows browsers, I am not sure.

1. Padma:
By and large, of all the tools that I have found, I have felt that this extension of firefox is the best thing of all. Well, this is a firefox extension, which enables you to read non-unicode telugu content on the web on browsers like firefox which can’t display them properly. Ofcourse, the task for which I use it is to do literally everything ranging from searching in Indian languages to Blogging and mailing. On my scale of 10, I would give it a 8.5. 8.5 because of three reasons. One is that I cannot save offline whatever I type in Padma. The other is that – this does not work in google docs. 😦 and the last one is that it does not provide direct typing in to telugu. I should again select the text and convert it to Telugu.

Lekhini was perhaps the third online transliterator, which I came across almost one year before. The first two being – padma online and higopi. But, this was the one to which I sticked to, for quite sometime, till I discovered the other advantage of Padma extension. It is a highly flexible typing interface, which I still like a lot. You need not take any typing lessons at lekhini. You can type directly! 🙂 Further, since it is simple javascript, you can save the page and use if offline, though there are better options offline than this. However, comparitively, I rate it as 8/10. My reasons being – 1)it is something like a different site. You need to cut,copy paste all the time. 2)It would have been nice if it had some option to save files on your desktop, if not online,with a user account and stuff. 3)It is not as intelligent as Quillpad.

This is an online converter which supports nine Indian languages. It is also very much usable. However, somethings in its encoding makes the already lengthy RTS even more lengthy. Quick typers used to RTS might have to stop, wait and go. Like the above two, it provides toggling between English and Indian Language, which is highly necessary. It has only one textarea unlike Lekhini, which is in a way good, as you can see at the same place if you typed rightly or not. One positive point I would like to say on its side is that – it provides the transliteration for 9 Indian languages, unlike Lekhini. I rate this on the scale as 7.5/10. The reasons being the same as lekhini and one more – You cannot see the keypad map and the typing window at the same time in this tool, which makes it an unfriendly user interface.

This is THE most intelligent typing tool I saw till date, I can confidently say. I don’t think this ever made a mistake in all my trials with it. It corrects itself and presents to us the most probable output. for example, I type: mIru elA unnAru in lekhini or padma or higopi. Here, I type – miru ela unnaru? – and presto! I see the same output in Telugu – “మీరు ఎలా ఉన్నారు?”  -which not only means lesser effort in typing, but also the software understanding our needs. Quillpad is presently incorporated in Rediffmail and rediffbol. It even has this facility of sending an e-mail. However, this is quite vulnerable enough to spam, perhaps. Since it is incorporated in rediff client, the complaints about copy-paste and saving files are not as greatly noticeable in this one, perhaps. Nevertheless, I never used it much. I can’t say why. I rate it as 8.5/10. My only complaint in this case being – it is not a simple keystroke like Lekhini or Higopi or Padma in this case. You have to go to the drop-down and change the Language. The advantage of this is – you can write a single post in multiple languages. But, how many people exist, who write so? Toggling between Indian language and English would have been better.

5. Telugu toolbar plugin for Firefox:
This is another avatar of Padma kind of mapping. It is good. I used it only for a short while, before realising the potential of Padma. But, I liked it to some extent. Since it is instant typing, the question of copy-paste or save does not come here. That depends on the application in which you are using Telugu toolbar. My one and only complaint about this is that – it would have been perfect had it worked in rich-text areas where you type mails or write blogposts. It worked in Blogger textbox but not in wordpress text area 😦 (This was sometime long back. I don’t know about the situation now). I rate it as 8.5 only for the above reason. I would not have hesitated to give a 10 if only it had the facility to type anywhere online.

6. Telugu Type pad by Vishal Monpara:
This is a kind of passable interface and typing tool. Here, and only here I saw a wierd mapping of having “E” for the short sound “e” and “e” for the long vowel sound “E”. That is, to type – “cheque” in Indian language, you should write “chEk” and not “chek” :)) It supports 8 languages. I saw this tool being used somewhere else too. But, I am unable to recollect right at the moment. However, nothing is special in this tool. It is just an average tool. 7/10 perhaps.

This is the most cumbersome tool that I have encountered so far. I am talking only about the typing tool and not about the other products of Bhomiyo. The very mapping itself is wierd and without any reason. To type “amma” keystrokes are: Am\m. It does not make sense for me in any sense. To type “Alochana”, it is |l?cn. The ? is because, no mapping is provided there for the long – “lO”. The only option you have is to go to your mouse and click the button. I have already cribbed about it sometime back…so, not anymore. I can’t rate it above 5 or 6.

8. Gamabhana:
This has all the facilities of copy-paste, open-save stuff that I mentioned before. Nevertheless, I did not use it that much, for the reason that there is some problem with the telugu page. Further, I think it is still under development, from what I understood in chat conversation with Omkar Joshi, the maker. I am looking forward for its full-fledged version with a lot of hope. Its not fair to rate now, but, I expect it cannot be below 8/10. The story behind “gamabhana” in the words of Mr Omkar Joshi – ” gamabhana : in marathi when child starts to write on a slate these are letters to begin with ga ma bha na n i didnt hav ne other name in mind by the time i decided to giv it a name :)”

Published in: on June 21, 2007 at 11:49 am  Comments (9)  

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9 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. నా ఓటు తెలుగు టూల్ బార్ కే

  2. Sowmya,

    People have always looked at Indian Language typing from English keyboard point of view. There are indic key boards (Remington) available but not many people are familiar with indic keyboards – and specially people who are familiar with English keyboard – they would be uncomfortable using Indic keyboard.

    Many of the keyboards I have seen ask you to type ‘ba’ for whole ‘ब’ letter. And similarly ‘bha’ for ‘भ’. This is more keystrokes to type what you need.

    In Gujarati/Hindi during the time when there was no Unicode and online keyboards – there was Saral font available which was kind of popular. And Saral font had a mapping that helps you type with minimum keystrokes.

    Bhomiyo has similar type of keyboard with some differences. If you type any key in Capital you can get the half letter. For example, for अम्मा – you can type AMma. For your name one can type ‘sOMya’.

    Since English keyboard does not have enough keys to represent all Indian consonants and vowels, I had to make some choices to represent some characters by numerical or other keys.

    For Alochana (आलोचना) – I would type – |locna. But if you meant (आलौचना) – it would be – |lOcna. Capital O represents (ौ). Now, there are some extra vowels in Telugu and for that one has to use online keyboard.

    I can tell you that using this keyboard I can type in faster than one using transliterated keyboard.

    Though, I don’t claim to have this keyboard as the best one. When time permits, I will add more keyboard on the site too – but seems like people use IME more than online keyboards.

    By the way, when you are mentioning TRANSLITERATION – you should have mentioned the TRANSLITERATION OF SITES between Indian Languages, English and Urdu through Bhomiyo. Because that’s the main feature that people have been using.

    For any comments –

  3. Well, just googling thru net and came accross the feed with gamabhana! I am pleased to inform you that now gamabhana has solved the problem of telugu unicode font 🙂

  4. […] now, when there are so many online transliterators for Indian languages, some of which I listed here some time back. Anyways, thinking of it in another way – there were people in Universities, working […]

  5. హాయ్ సౌమ్య

    ఈ సాఫ్టువేర్లన్ని లిస్టు చేసినందుకు థాంక్సు . మన ఐఐఐటి లో తెలుగులో ఎంతమంది మెయిలు వాడుతున్నారో నీకేమన్నా ఎరుకా ? నేను మా బాచి ఏలమ్నీ మెయిలింగు లిస్టులో కొంత ప్రచారం ఇచ్చాను, కానీ ఎవ్వరూ ఇంట్రెస్టుగా లేరు. మనలాంటి వాళ్ళే ఇలాగుంటే ఇంక మామూలు జనాల సంగతెలాగ ఉంటుందో ఊహించుకోవచ్చు !

  6. సౌమ్య, ట్రాన్స్ లిటరేషన్ టూల్స్ పైన చాలా చక్కని బ్లాగ్ ఇది. తెలుగులో రాస్దామనుకునేవారికి, చాలా ఉపయోగకరమైన సమచార సుమాహారం. సౌమ్యా,ట్రాన్స్ లిటరేషన్ టూల్స్ పైన ఆధారపడడంమాని ఇన్ స్క్రిప్ట్ నేర్చుకుంటే, తెలుగును తెలుగులోనే రాయవచ్చునేమో (రాసేవారు, రాసేటప్పుడు). మీకు తెలుసా, ఇన్ స్క్రిప్ట్ లో తెలుగు టైపింగ్ నేర్పే ఒక కొత్త ఉపకరణం, “అనుపమ తెలుగు టైపింగ్ ట్యూటర్.”

  7. సౌమ్య, ట్రాన్స్ లిటరేషన్ టూల్స్ పైన చాలా చక్కని బ్లాగ్ ఇది. తెలుగులో రాస్దామనుకునేవారికి, చాలా ఉపయోగకరమైన సమాచార సుమాహారం. సౌమ్యా,ట్రాన్స్ లిటరేషన్ టూల్స్ పైన ఆధారపడడంమాని ఇన్ స్క్రిప్ట్ నేర్చుకుంటే, తెలుగును తెలుగులోనే రాయవచ్చునేమో (రాసేవారు, రాసేటప్పుడు). మీకు తెలుసా, ఇన్ స్క్రిప్ట్ లో తెలుగు టైపింగ్ నేర్పే ఒక కొత్త ఉపకరణం, “అనుపమ తెలుగు టైపింగ్ ట్యూటర్.”

  8. సౌమ్య, అనుపమ తెలుగు టైపింగ్ ట్యూటర్ ను హైదరాబాద్ బుక్ ఫేర్ లో చూడవచ్చు. సమయం చిక్కితే ఒకసారి వెళ్లి చూడండి. హైదరాబాద్ బుక్ ఫేర్ డిసెంబర్ 7 నుండి 17 వరకు మాత్రమే కలదు.

  9. Thank you for shared information

    Regarding typing test,
    In the 1980’s typing speed was one of the criteria to get jobs anywhere.
    But slowly this trend stopped and typing speed was not important to most of the employers.
    This is the reason why typing tests, which were once very popular suddenly, vanished from the scene.
    However recently we see a growing shift in the attitude of the employers

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