Tuesday, April 03, 2012

#Chennai hackathon IV

Several of the Chennai hackathon projects were interesting because of the different approach they took to known problems. A hackathon is a perfect place to experiment; there are many people around and they often have their own ideas about how things should be done.

Wikiquotes via SMS
You send the name of a person and in reply you get quotes from that person. The idea makes sense but the problem is that the quotes in Wikiquote are not available in a structured way. When quotes are individually tagged, an application to send SMS messages becomes possible from the source. The approach of this project was to copy quotes into a database and use this.

When the Wikiquote communities start using templates for each quote, it will become possible to use Wikiquote itself.

Translation of Gadgets/UserScripts to tawiki
There is no doubt, the translation or localisation of software makes a hell of a difference to the usability of software. The standard approach is to localise at translatewiki.net but gadgets and user scripts are not yet supported in this way.
It is wonderful to learn that the ProvIt and the TwoColumn gadget are now available in Tamil. The challenge left is how to make them available in other languages and how to maintain them when the code needs changing.

Lightweight offline Wiki reader
Even though there are several off line readers like OkaWix and Kiwix, it was the considered opinion that there is room for another one, a reader that can be used when there is only a little room available. The Qvido project was revived at this hackathon and is now available with "build" instructions.

Open source projects exist as long as there is an interest in developing a project and as long as there are people who benefit from it. Being able to host MediaWiki content off line as widely as possible is certainly reason enough for this project to get attention.

Program to help record pronunciations for words in tawikt
When you learn a foreign language it is really hard to get the pronunciation of words right. A program that allows the recording of some 500 words in half an hour is really useful. However, getting it uploaded to Commons is equally important because this can be an enormous time-sink and this is one part of the puzzle that still needs solving.

Another approach to recording pronunciations was to do this on an Android phone. Developing an app in a day is too much of a challenge.. What these two projects make clear is how much pronunciations is a feature that is very much in demand.

As soundfiles are used extensively on other wiktionaries, it does make sense to learn the best practices elsewhere. The least they need is a Tamil makeover eh, a localisation.
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