Support for Indian languages on computers gained momentum around 2005 with support of Unicode. Five years have passed and I continue to hear the same issues about fonts, input methods for typing in native languages. Usage of computers through native languages has not gone beyond a small minority of people who are passionate about their native tongue.
In India, computer sales are growing year on year with negligible impact of the global recession and mobile phone density has grown rapidy beyond expectations. Net connectivity through dial up /ADSL modems/Wireless is available throughout the country. Broadband net connectivity is not growing rapidly primarily due to high cost, though people complain of lower speeds. Low speed connectivity can still be very helpful, if put to use for accessing knowledge sites like Wikipedia. To clear the input method hurdles, I present an application called Gyanpad (Sanskrit word for Knowledge and English synonym of Slate), which in its first avatar allows you to select an Indian language and search Wikipedia and sister sites in a user friendly way with just on screen keyboards. So you can call all your family /friends and introduce them to native language use on computers without them being scared by the big 101 key physical board with just English letters o n it .
|Gyanpad(Knowledge Kiosk)-Hindi InscriptSearch|
May be you want to teach the young ones, who are more comfortable with English than Hindi. No problem select Hindi-Phonetic from the first page and you will see Hindi Phonetic Keyboard. The initial pane has English lowercase letters. By clicking on letters correspond to English spelling of Hindi words, you can enter the word you want to search. For our example Hindi (हिंदी), just locate ('h' )('i' ) ('n') ('d') ('I') and then click . You can use upper case letters by 'Up Arrow'( Shift key) to get different sounds d (द) D(ड) and long vowels. With 'CTRL+ALT' button, you can change the keyboard pane to show Hindi letters, which you can enter, in case you are not able to get the appropriate Hindi letters using English keys.
I have built this tiny application using the Google resources . Google provides the 'On screen keyboard' (Virtual Keyboard) option from its home page, when you opt to use the customized site for your language. However, this application will be useful in Cybercafes/ Exhibitions/Training Centers/Computer Laboratories, where it is desirable not to customize the settings to avoid incovenience to other users.
Google is yet to release Inscript keyboards for other Indian Languages. So manage with Phonetic Keyboards. Try it out and share your feedback by commenting on this post. It is my strong desire to see that information from Wikipedia /Government /Not for Profit institutional sites is available free to every Indian using low cost netbooks/custom computing devices with just touch screen/mouse interface. These devices can be made available at every public place, be it corner retail store/bus stop/mall /hospital/...
Did not understand some of the words above, just go straight to Gyanpad application