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Archive for November, 2008

For last few days I have been experimenting with several Javascript-based virtual keyboards mainly for using in Ankur‘s English to Bengali dictionary project. This dictionary project is aiming for a comprehensive English to Bengali dictionary, freely available to everyone. As of now the project ranks highly in Google search for the keywords “English to Bengali dictionary”. This dictionary project relies on user contributions for enhancement of its database. Thus we needed a browser-based solution aimed at helping users in contributing new dictionary entries (in Unicode Bengali) using standard English keyboard and without using any keyboard layout. It also helps to avoid transliterated contribution in English where it should rather be typed in Unicode Bengali.

We have been using bnwebtools for last one year for the purpose. However, this tool has gone in non-GPL direction recently. So we needed a replacement. I was, nevertheless, looking for not just a replacement but also having a next-generation solution :-).

After playing with few of them I decided to explore the Javascript VirtualKeyboard by Ilya Lebedev. To my surprise, it already had supports for many Indic keyboard layouts. Unfortunately, it didn’t have any Bengali layouts. It appeared that to include a new layout, the layout needs to be described in *.klc file, built using the Microsoft Keyboard Layout Creator tool. Given I had no intension in booting into windows, I wrote a Perl script for creating the *.klc file in the desired format.

To begin with I have converted three Bengali layouts. For Inscript layout, I chose the Baishakhi Inscript used in Baishakhi Linux which is being promoted by Govt of West Bengal (Nevertheless see the recent postings by Sayamindu, Sankarshan, Runa on some controversies surrounding it). Then I converted Ankur‘s Probhat layout which I have been using since the beginning. I also converted, another popular Bengali layout Unijoy.

To see this virtual keyboard in action visit Ankur E2B dictionary project or its virtual keyboard demo page. If you have used this virtual keyboard and have any comments/suggestions on it, then please feel free to post them here.

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