Urdutools, Urdupedia Launched

NCPUL Crosses a Vital Milestone

By A Staff Writer
New Delhi:
Computing in Urdu language in India is likely to register a quantum jump with the recent launch of the Urdu tools and Urdupedia by the National Council for Promotion of Urdu Language (NCPUL), an autonomous body under the Union Ministry of Human Resources.
Union Telecom and IT Minister Kapil Sibal launched the two key facilities on August 4 in Zakir Hussain College in Delhi. These could enable Urdu users to tweet on the twitter and post message on Facebook in Urdu.
Content creation and communication are some of the major requirements for language growth and keeping this in mind as a first step, Urdu Fonts and keyboard drivers have been released by the NCPUL. This will facilitate the people to collect e-contents in Urdu on the Internet just as it is done in English. To begin with the NCPUL has provided the Urdu content creation framework based on Media Wiki. It also makes available the Urdu Keyboard Manager and Urdu keyfonts. Urdu keyboard is compatible with Windows programme as well as for Androids for mobile users. To boot, the Urdu Naskh font has been made available in 12 different styles while Nastaliq is available in one style. The fonts were developed by the TDIL under CDAC at Pune which took eight months to accomplish the job.
The Urdupedia has been launched on the pattern of Wikipedia where any user can submit entries on various issues and subjects which will be edited by a moderator for authenticity of the content and accuracy of language and will be webcast on the Urdupedia.com. The framework is powered by MediaWIKI platform and CDAC GIST has provided facility for Urdu support by integrating “Onscreen Urdu language” keyboard and “Unicode compliant Font”. Hitherto, the Urdu users had to depend on foreign based Urdu tools and Urdu fonts. It was therefore not been possible to register the Urdu web portal on .in IDs commonly used for indigenous websites.
The facilities can be accessed on the following websites:
www.urdutdil-dc.in, www.tdil-dc.in.  and  www.urducouncil.nic.in.
The availability of the Urdu tools also offers the opportunity for Akash tablet users to use Urdu for their communication and computing purposes. The CDAC took up the work on Urdu pursuing the objective of Indian Language Technology development on digital medium under the aegis of Department of Electronics and Information Technology. 
 Urdu script has its own typical characteristics. It is written from right to left. The Naskh fonts are linear while Nastaliq fonts while being linear needs different levels of elevation depending on the number of letters than join to form a word. The Urdutools takes care of these characteristics.
A total of 12 Naskh and 1 number of Unicode 6.2 compliant fonts have been made available. Naskh though cursive is linear  in nature. Each letter joins to the next moving from right to left. The glyphs change shape according to the place they occupy within the word. Strictly defined by norms laid down by tradition, the visual beauty of Naskh lies in the seamless manner in which each letter joins to the next letter to create a text which is as attractive as a visual drawing.
Nastaaliq is one of the most complex scripts to design. Unlike Naskh which is linear in nature, Nastaaliq moves both from right to left and vertically from top to bottom with the “nukte” or dots conforming to a strict placement order.  Nastaaliq demands strict conformity with a specific grammar which has been honed and fine-tuned over the centuries. A well-designed Nastaaliq font as is shown in the Nabeel font designed by GIST C-DAC, has both a visual appeal as well as grammatical economy and correctness.

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