Hindawi on DataQuest
- Its proud moment for Abhishek and Shweta ji as Hindawi is now visible
to wide range of Linux people. This is the change what Abhishek ji
wanted for past few years. Now, Hindawi is featured on Dataquest,
which will open gates for DataQuest readers to know and involve them
self into Hindawi. I spoke to Abhishek few days back after Hindawi
featured on Dataquest, and its joyous moment for Hindawi lovers as
website http://www.Hindawi.in is getting 200-300 hits per day, which
will lead to more involvement of open source ppl.
Programming for All
Hindawi is a free open-source software that allows programming in a
persons mother-tongue, overcoming the need to master English
Saturday, May 10, 2008
Even though India is cruising on the IT highway, there is still a
large section of the Indian population on the other side of the
technological divide, owing to socio-economic barriers. With a large
chunk of the Indian public not well versed in Englishthe language of
ITall efforts to bridge this digital divide have failed to yield the
The Hindawi Programming System is possibly the first development
platform that allows non-English medium literates to become software
producers without the need to master English. What perhaps makes
Hindawi unique is that while localized application interfaces allow
people to become software consumers, the ability to design programs in
ones mother tongue makes them software producers.
An Arabic origin word, Hindawi is used to describe all regions,
people, and languages across the Indus River. The term finds
references in the works of Amir Khusro. The word was chosen as it was
considered to be the most appropriate for denoting all the languages
of India, says Abhishek Choudhary, an IT professional who, along with
Sweta Choudhary, developed Hindawi.
Talking about his innovative software, Choudhary says, Hindawi is
essentially a free open-source software that allows programming for
all types of technology in a persons mother-tongue ranging from
beginners languages to super-computing, control-systems, and robotics.
Hindawi has support for auto-translation of code and documents to
allow global marketability of the deliverables produced using Hindawi
tool-chain. Since the technology is mapped to the International
Phonetic Alphabet, I expect the results to be replicated globally and
am actively pursuing this target, he adds.
I remember trying to get some small programs to work out in Hindi, as
long back as 1995, as a member of the computer club at St Josephs
College (school department), Darjeeling. We would mainly work in DOS
then, and the method of representing Devanagri script in the text-mode
without using extra hardware was developed by me in 1996. This is what
we now call APCISR. Around those times, I had started visualizing a
transliteration-based mechanism for achieving language-independent
interfaces, he says.
During his engineering degree project, he built a platform for
experiments in autonomous and cognitive robotics and successfully
prototyped it for one-fifth of the cost of the existing platforms. He
soon realized the value this software could hold for Indian students
and started creating a Hindi interface for the robot. This effort led
to the creation of the open source projectsFreeBot Angel and Romenagri
Transliterationby early 2004
Romenagri Transliteration formed the basis of achieving human language
independence in programming languages, and led to the development of
the first version of Hindi systems programming languages. These were
released on August 15, 2004 under the name Hindawi and were based on
FreeDOS and DJGPP. Hindawi was then ported to Linux in 2006.
Initially, Choudhary had to face hostile reactions when it came to the
project. People initially, during the release of the first version in
2004-05, would deny that such a thing was actually required and would
refuse to believe it, he recalls.
The other major problem was the non-availability of professions of
Compiler Design Systems programming since these were niche areas.
Moreover, the appreciation of the problem was not there. However, the
non-cooperation from the peoples end more than made up for the
assistance he received from the companies he worked for during the
development of the Hindawi project.
Most compiler systems accept only 7-bit ASCII. Hindawi allows Hindi or
Indic programming language source code to be processed by such
compilers. There are very few compilers even today that support direct
compilation of extended character sets or wide characters, as required
by Unicode. Hindawi, therefore, allows non-English programming
languages to be constructed for all the existing computing platforms
including resource constrained embedded systems.
Hindawi allows the translation of source code and documentation into
English and hence allows global marketability of deliverables
(executable programs) produced using Hindawi tool-chain. It includes
the APCISR, which is a mechanism for displaying variable width Indic
scripts of the Brahmi family on fixed width text mode consoles. If one
looks at todays Indic platforms, they can display Indic once the
graphics mode has been started, say X-windows.
True localization, however, requires Indic display at all levels of
functionality such as at the BIOS levels; especially for stuff such as
device drivers and systems programs, it is irrelevant whether the code
was written in Indic or traditional programming languages. In such
cases, it becomes imperative to have human language independence.
Overall, Hindawi is the first such successful effort and has provided
a proof of the concept of feasibility and validity of such systems.
The programming languages landscape of the future will be free of
human language-based biases. Hindawi has also proven the possible
coexistence of traditional and non-orthodox programming platforms on
the same system.
The word, Hindawi, was chosen as it was considered to be the most
appropriate for denoting all the languages of India
Abhishek Choudhary, an IT professional who, along with Sweta
Choudhary, developed Hindawi
A method has also been developed for smart rendering of North Indian
scripts in text-mode without the need for any extra hardware
components. The complete system, including the design of the Indian
vernacular understanding robot, has been made open-source with the
objective of meeting the financial objectives through support
services. This shall allow low procurement costs for Indian vernacular
development systems, and make the maintenance of the programming
system a community effort. This would also allow the system to be used
for pedagogical purposes.
Hindawi offers means of sociological movements in terms of unleashing
untapped intellectual potentials from the backward areas of developing
nations. A rough estimate of 600,000 villages in India implies 600,000
cottage industry-level software production houses, which could be
translated into the creation of 6 mn ICT jobs.
On the financial front, Hindawi will be sustained through support
services and licensing of non-GPL parts for commercial development.
The demonstrations can be downloaded from the authors website while
CDs of the complete system is made available on request at a marginal
cost inclusive of the cost of material and posting only.
Even as the complete system, along with the design of the
Hindawi-based intelligent robot, has been made open-source in order to
tap into the vast vernacular literate manpower potential in ICT. The
copyright for Hindawi has been retained by the authors organization,
in conformance with GNU General Public License V2, in parts that
utilize GPL software.
Hindawi is essentially an effort toward cultural preservation. With
the porting of Hindawi to the about-to-be-extinct languages such as
Sharada, a sense of self-revival may be instilled in the original
speakers of these languages.
The Hindawi System is a part of Choudharys 20:20 vision, of making IT
a cottage industry. And Hindawi today is a vibrant FLOSS community
with highly active participation in India.