Madhyam, a Hindi Word Processor, has been developed by Balendu Sharma Dadhich, a Delhi-based software developer.
Madhyam, a Hindi Word Processor, developed by Balendu Sharma Dadhich, a New Delhi-based editor and software developer, has received remarkable response from end users after it was made available for free download on his official website.
The software complies with the Inscript Devnagari Text Input Standard authenticated by the Government, the Unicode Consortium, and the Indian Bureau of Standards. Originally developed for Hindi, it also allows text input in other languages that follow the Devnagari script, i.e. Marathi, Sanskrit, Nepali, Bhojpuri and Konkani. The free software can be used for creating, opening, saving and modifying text files, taking print-outs, sending email and surfing a Hindi website. Madhyam is 1.4 MB in size and presently doesn't support Unicode and advanced formatting features. However, it makes working in these languages easy for the common man.
Balendu Sharma Dadhich, the developer of the software and managing editor, hindi news portal prabhasakshi.com, says, "Madhyam has been developed with the sole objective of promoting local languages in computing and it has received notable response from NRIs, office workers and students. More than 12,000 copies of the software have been downloaded last year by Indian languages enthusiasts. Considering the fact that even Indian language word processors launched by IT bigwigs have not seen such a great user response, it's certainly encouraging."
"I have got response from Indian language lovers from all over the world. What made me really excited, however, was an email I received from a professor in Pakistan. Similarly, a British lorry driver also contacted and thanked me for the software as he was finding it useful in learning Hindi. Such instances really touch you and give you a feeling of being useful to the society," said Dadhich.
"Most Indian language computer users come from middle and lower-middle income groups and are hardly in a position to spend money on word processing software such as MS Word and iLeap. Commercially marketed word processors are sold at prices between Rs 1,200 to 9,000; an amount they can't afford. For them, Madhyam becomes a software of choice," Dadhich further said.
The biggest challenge in this regard according to experts comes from the lack of technology-standardization in these languages. For instance, when working in Hindi, you will have to choose from at least 15 different keyboard layouts (such as Remington, Devanagari, Phonetics, Transliteration etc) and an even greater number of fonts that all work in different ways, unlike with English. Due to the lack of standardization, all software development companies design their own custom keyboard layouts and fonts, which are totally out-of-sync with their counterparts. A person using a particular word processor is generally unable to work on a competitor word processor, as both support different text input methods.
To overcome this problem, the Inscript (Indian Script) keyboard overlay was standardized by the Department of Electronics in 1986. Inscript remains the officially supported text input standard for Indian languages, and its use is now gaining momentum. According to Balendu, what makes this standard special is its "intelligent methodology for text input." It makes learning Hindi and typing in other Indian languages easier, as one doesn't need to memorize keyboard keys for each and every alphabet. You only learn to type half the number of characters (full characters), and the rest of the characters are generated by the text editor in a unique automated manner.
Dadhich says, "When you type a full character followed by a Halant character, the text is automatically transformed into a half character. Mixed complex characters (such as ksha, tra, gya etc) are also rendered in this way. Another significance of this standard is that it supports almost all the major Indian languages. This means, if you can type in Hindi, you can also type in Gujarati as the basic keys and text input methodology for the two languages is the same."
The standard needs to be supported by the IT community and end users, as this will ensure similarity of data input methods, re-use of data, would rule out data redundancy, make it easier to work in Indian languages and would boost computer literacy.
"Development of Madhyam is a step towards promoting use of Indian languages using this standard. Incidentally, Madhyam is the only free word processor of its kind that fully complies with the standard", says Dadhich.
He is presently working on the next version of the software, which would be a Unicode compliant one, and would provide major text formatting facilities like those offered by Microsoft Word. He also plans to provide transliteration (a way of typing Hindi in the way English is typed) facility to help people who cannot write in the Inscript or Remington way (especially NRIs). However, he remains a hardcore standardization supporter who emphasizes that every Indian language lover must learn to type in the language in its own, custom style.
The software is available for download at http://www.techtree.com/techtree/jsp/article.jsp?website=tt&article_id=70874&cat_id=660
An example of how changing font changes original text in Hindi :