Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Non-Roman character set localization

From a localisation point of view, the least of our worries are the character sets. The person who works on the localisation of software has the ability to read and write his language and consequently the associated character set. The problem with character sets are the readers and writers who have problems with displaying the characters we present to them.

To make this situation even more poignant, character set problems exist for the Roman character set as well. On this blog you may have read about problems with languages like Romanian and Lingala. These languages are written in the Roman character set.

As the Wikimedia Foundation has it on its Non-Roman character set localization page, there is a need for a toolset that supports character sets, fonts and input methods. We are really fortunate that such a toolset exists.

These tools are not created for the Roman character set, but they will be equally effective. They are Narayam. a tool that provides input methods and WebFonts a tool that provides fonts on those devices that are smart enough.

These tools provide functionality in their current incarnation that is basic and essential. Both tools can be improved upon as they can be perfected with increased usability and functionality. However, perfection is the enemy of the good when we are to wait for this. With this basic functionality in place, we can build a vast array of input methods for many languages, we can work to complete or create freely licensed fonts. We will even make a visual and obvious case to the manufacturers of devices that they need to provide web fonts when they are to sell in markets where fonts are an issue.
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