Friday, November 18, 2011

WebFonts are ready for your comments

At the WikiConference #India, one of the main topics is support for the languages of India. The government of India acknowledges in its best practices that not everybody speaks English. MediaWiki may not be used by the Indian government, but it certainly aspires to bring these best practices in reality. In summary, we aim to make Wikipedia and all its sister projects as easy to edit in for instance Malayalam or Orya as English.

One of the stumbling blocks for us is that many of the computers sold did not come with support for the Indic fonts or with the keyboard mappings for Indic languages. The "Localisation team" worked hard to overcome these two very basic issues. For many languages the Narayam extension is now live and allows people to type. The next phase is providing WebFonts. Web fonts are fonts send to your computer with the data for the articles. 

Providing web fonts can only happen by us when fonts are available for a language and when these fonts are freely licensed. Luckily the fonts used by the Linux operating system are freely licensed and we are happy to provide these as well as other fonts to you.

At this time we are testing the use of WebFonts at and we intent to bring WebFonts in production for all Wikimedia projects in Indic languages on December 12. We will start off with WebFonts for the Indian languages and other languages will follow at a later date. In the run-up to production day, we need you to assess the fonts for us. the questions we have are:
  • do these fonts represent the script as defined in the latest Unicode specification
  • are the characters readable
  • are you comfortable with the user interface that allows you to configure WebFonts
  • is the default we have chosen for your language the best freely licensed font available
Given that our aim is to bring information to everyone, you will appreciate that our prime objective is to enable more readers and help more people to find their way to our projects. We are quite happy to use any font that meets with our technical requirements when it is freely licensed. 

To help you assess the options available to your language, there should be a page called WebFonts that contains a copy of the India article in your language. 
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