Saturday, February 23, 2008

I am freed..

This is a second day in and I can say it was worth being here so far. Most of the people were seen faces at but its always good to meet old friends again and again. Additionally the lower density of people here is a good thing in a way that you get to interact more with the people you want. Something not possible when there is a lot of crowd around.

First day was all spent attending the talks. I spend good time with KK, talking passionately about free software and philosophy. I see the influence of Nagarjuna in him. But he has his won way of saying things. He is a lot aggressive while Nagajuna is a lot humble. Something he admits himself. Anyway there were conclaves going on parallel but so far i.e. the last session of day two, I have not been there.

Today was much special. Gora made sure that I get introduced with Andreas Vox, the scribus developer. It was really nice talk to him about various tech savvy issues related to page layout, text layout and lot more. I did not have any talk registered here, but had to talk on Indic text layout as a part of Andreas' talk. Earlier Dr. Nagarjuna had asked me to get Indic things going into Scribus. I think his wish will come true.

Later I was pleased to meet an IIT student, extremely interested in Indic computing and gnu/linux and everything. He had many questions for me which I loved to talk on. This is a good sign that students are encouraged to get into the foss world through such events.

Lets see whats there tomorrow..

Monday, February 18, 2008

The Indic Mashup

This weekend got contributed for the first Indic Mashup workshop. The idea initiated by Karunakar finally took shape inside Red Hat premises at Pune.

The participants were expected to come from various language communities. So most of the Red Hat's Localization team appeared on a Sunday morning. It would have been great if more linguists and i18n contributors around Pune and Mumbai would have participated. But except Karunakar and Localization team, the only linguist present was Ravi Pandey who is a font designer and Marathi, Sanskrit expert. Still the crowd of 13 and the issues were good enough to discuss and work upon for 10 to 5 schedule.

Various issues from keyboard layout to collation tables, a lot got discussed. I thought related bug reports could also have been filed at appropriate places, but that might need more focussed workshops in near future. Now we are clear what issues are there and what can be done for them. I think this is a very good achievement for now.

So far, most of the events I have seen were mostly like someone presenting and others listening. This was certainly different. People had actually got into source codes and bugzillas. Testing for most of the Indic related tools was done across distributions. Reports got generated for upcoming features like collation. The collation sequences for various languages with reference to unicode provided collation charts and proposed modification/additions to that are posted here. The only missing for now would be bengali, assamese, tamil and oriya. Now that Assamese, Tamil and Oriya collations are already implemented, a thorough testing could have been done, but the absence of Language experts limited this task.

Among other issues, the important ones that have given few todo's would be the ones related to the keyboard layouts. Few characters like Om, ZWJ, ZWNJ have been either absent or not placed uniformly among various languages. We tried to find out vacant places on current layouts to accommodate these new additions for one-to-one mapping(xkb). Other options like sequence of keys are kept for scim. There is lot more that got discussed which would be worth for filing bugs.

Among feedbacks, the most obvious one, it was different. It was a workshop in real and not just a speech and presentation. Being first of this kind, it was more generalized. Request are now coming up for more focussed ones in future. focusing particular field like input methods or fonts, focusing particular language and so on.

Among few negative feedbacks, one was the weekend work. Not many like the idea of spending a lovely Sunday for such a tensed work. It would be great if it can be managed during weekdays, not as big as this but preferably shorter sessions of couple of hours.

One more comment I received was that the Indic mashup sounded more like Marathi mashup. This was expected to some extent. I would rather say it concentrated more on Devanagari issues. But this was inevitable. Only linguist present was a Marathi and Sanskrit expert. There were two maharashtrian i18n engineers(including myself), one Marathi language maintainer and one Hindi expert and others who understood Devanagari better. For other languages only one developer was present per language. In my personal opinion there could have been more involvement from other language developers. More issues and requirements could have been raised. But nevertheless even though most of the references were done using Devanagari, most issues were common in general for rest of the scripts and languages.

About venue and facilities, WiFi worked very well. IRC was use mainly for sharing URLs and satisfying the curiosity of few remotees. Except for a delayed lunch, food and all worked out well too.

To sum up I can say this event proved to be productive and I would be looking forward for few more focussed and comparatively shorter sequels.

Sunday, February 03, 2008

Samyak is in..

The long awaited Samyak fonts are finally in Fedora.

Being one of the major initial projects in my career, Samyak will always remain close to the heart. Thanks to Pravin for packaging them very well in accordance to the font SIG's guidelines and thanks to Parag for reviewing it. Thanks to Sandeep Shedmake as well for driving this in. His contributions for licensing/copyright text correction and few other bug fixes really made it happen. I had plans to put them in fedora's last two releases as well, but something else always kept it away from priority.

Somebody must have said, 'never forget to thank yourself'. So here I am, patting my own shoulder for being the initiator of the design for these fonts. One more reason to fall in love for this, the name 'Samyak', given by me, still remains a source of inspiration and attachment.

Finally how can I forget Dr. Nagarjuna G., who has been the initiator and the guiding force behind the entire project. A special thanks to him for being very helpful with the licensing issues even during the Fedora process.

Hereon, while Pravin will be interested to take on as a Fedora package maintainer for samyak-fonts, I will continue as an upstream maintainer myself. With the interest and dedication shown by Sandeep and Pravin, I can be confident to see huge quality improvements in coming times. With Sandeep being very active about the development and bug fixing, I will be really glad to see a community building around it. Now I can happily be assured that the project will live long.

[P.S. If not all, I expect a cheer from at least Oriya language community, for them being very enthusiastic about these fonts when not many of others worked up to their mark.]