No ! This is not an attempt to get folks to read through all my rants on FLOSS-IndicL10n-Deployment. Rather it is an attempt to figure out how to lose control and let chaos reign to get innovation going.
I have been blogging (and more often than not rambling) about this topic for so long that sometimes I am amazed as to why others don’t feel the same way. Here’s a collection of my rants from the past year:
If you have gone through the links above, and reading them as on date – you would agree with me that the efforts have failed. Failed miserably to get a momentum going, failed miserably in getting a toolkit up and running, failed in doing the backend heavy lifting for the infrastructure in a coherent manner and where it hurts most – failed to get participatory model going for the community around Indic L10n. Indic (or for that matter any L10n) involves more than just the translators. It involves the distributions (and their release engineers), the local bodies who set/consult for standardisation on the various component aspects (Unicode, Thesaurus), the parties involved in creating dictionaries and spellcheckers, the developers who work on stuff like OCR, TTS and STT (among other things) and perhaps even alternative input methods that complete the experience of an Indic Desktop. The fun bit starts now.
Those who have been following the current trends in Ajax-ifying applications (del.icio.us etc) notice that a lot of the desktop use case is moving on to the web – there’s Google’s Writely (and the recent Spreadsheet applications). There’s Flickr and also the of course Picassa and others which are surely coming up. So where does this leave a complete desktop experience ? Very much where it was to begin with I would guess. The ‘desktop’ is not running away. And Indic L10n has strange ways of rearing its head. Imagine the scenario, in states like Kerala, the need for the UI in the local language might not be of great need. The state has done enough to ensure that there is a comprehension of a standard and basic level of English. What is however required in such cases is ‘Indic Support’. This does really mean the support for Input Methods, support for proper rendering and printing on the browser, a well documented method/algorithm for implementation of sorting and searching – which has long been the bane of any Indic L10n effort. The tragic bits are that in most of the cases these issues are being worked upon and resolved (and tested) – yet the information is not percolating fast enough and wide enough to get more folks excited and eager to test it out.
The time is ripe for taking the L10n stuff from pure string crunching to more on collaborative fronts involving as many folks as possible who are involved or are interested to get this going. We have crossed the first phase, we need to start planning for the second and the third stages.