Saturday, November 29, 2008

Wrapping up at foss.in@2008

With the start of 5th day, starts the end of a journey. A journey of talks, presentations, discussions, BoFs and of course the workouts at foss.in accompanied by a nice not-too-hot-not-too-cold rainy climate in Bangalore, negated by the depressed concerns about the terrible happenings back in Mumbai.

About the event, my personal highlights have been the talks, workouts and BoFs around Indic computing. It is interesting how the language computing forms a significant part of almost any foss event in India. The collation workout, Indic BoF, talks on text-to-speech, speech recognition, machine translations all went fine along with my own talk about language i18n support accompanied by Pravin on very first day. On other notes, the Nokia stall very well showcased maemo and N810, with the talks inline with the applications it runs.

The workout on collation helped update the status of all the Indic sorting and proceed with the remaining ones like Malayalam. Bengali still remains uncertain. It was nice to see how OLPC's 'sugar' attempts at going away from the traditional metaphors of files and folders, just something I had mentioned a day before in my presentation where I talked about the metaphoric localization. Apart from some formative steps in Indic Computing, what we could found is the students eager to contribute and the Tibetan community of developers in India.

Although the Talk was cheap this time, my feeling was that except for few, workouts were mostly dried up. I am not sure how much real code it produced but what I really missed there is the drive to attract more contributors. The talks probably did it better. May be next time they need to revise the concept.

Overall things have been good, not as huge as last year, but that could be intentional.

Have to return by today evening, means I'll miss the party!

Saturday, November 01, 2008

Workout on Internationalization

They say, "i18n is not a feature, its an architecture". Its not about downloading and configuring stuff around thats available somewhere in pieces, its about creating something that was not there at all.

Me and Pravin have been recently working on getting few of the yet-to-be (digitally) visible languages to meet a minimum technical support/usability criteria. On this background both of us came up with an idea of having a talk or demo on this at foss.in 2008. But looking at the amount of information and practical work involved with the entire thing, a workout looked like a more sound option. So we proposed the workout with title, "Creating Language Support Architecture (i18n) For A New Language On Desktop" which is right now in the first shortlist.
The plan is to start with essential theory and some demo about the work, followed by some real work with the help of participants. The proposed abstract is as follows..

Aim is to guide developers from languages that still need to be visible on desktop. The session will guide and call for participation to initiate work on new languages that have been ignored so far. The general agenda for the work out is as follows:

- Introduction to i18n
- Architecture of i18n/l10n
- Workshop/demo for adding a new language (e.g. Maithili/Kashmiri)
- Proceed with the workout:
-- Support in Unicode
-- Creating and adding "locale" file for glibc
-- A Unicode Font
-- Support in fontconfig
-- Shaping Engine
-- Creating Input Methods
-- Ensuring support on gdm
-- Other packages to support l10n activities
-- dictionaries, configurations, text-to-speech, translations, etc.
-- Working with community of all the developers


We expect work related to the languages such as kashmiri, manipuri, sindhi, konkani, bodo etc. be initiated at the workshop. Anyone having knowledge about such languages is highly welcome. All you need to know is some basic understanding of programming in linux. Knowledge and experience with i18n or l10n is a plus.

Some bits related to the subject were documented here:
https://fedoraproject.org/wiki/I18N#Adding_Language_Support

Right now the workout got listed as a 'talk', but hopefully that will be resolved soon.