The origins of this tutorial

March 25, 2011 § Leave a comment

We have a wonderful community of Malayalees in San Francisco who meet pretty much every week. During our meetings, we read and sing from a few Malayalam books. For various reasons, all very valid and important, we decided to build a new book, that has Malayalam and Manglish, and would be digitally available.

We looked at various options. The easiest would have been to get it typed in India. But every DTP publisher we spoke to said that they use non-Unicode fonts. That would not work for us because we wanted to have this book in digital forms, so that we could read in our iPad – and more importantly on a computer have the ability to search (and do some text manipulation with perl – but I digress.)

We decided to have our community members who could read Malayalam type it up instead. We divided the book into a dozen sections and went about looking for ways to get it typed. Boy, was it hard!

My friends and I started scouring the Internet to find easy ways to type in Unicode. We found that Microsoft had released a Unicode font called Kartika almost a decade ago, and that the Kerala government had instructed State employees to follow the Unicode format also a decade ago. We found that we needed to install software based “keyboards” on our computer to be able to type in the Kartika font. We also discovered that typing in Malayalam was fun.

Best of all, as our learning continued we found that for some of the non-unicode fonts, there were converters that converted them to Unicode! Wow, some smart people have been working on this for quite a while. Kudos to them. Without them our project would have failed to get started.

So here we are now. A website dedicated to make typing in Malayalam easy as 1, 2, 3.


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