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Credits and Acknowledgments
The Multilingual user interface design project at the Systems Development Laboratory, IIT Madras (Madras is now called Chennai) is essentially a student effort. From time to time, a number of friends, Alumni and other well-wishers have contributed to the project by offering valuable suggestions and gifting resources. The lab places on record its appreciation of the help rendered by
  • Professor Peter J Kindlmann of Yale University, U.S.A 
  • Professor Peter Raster of the University of Essen, Germany 
  • Professor R.M.K.Sinha of IIT Kanpur, India 
  • Professor Frank Starmer of the Medical University of South Carolina, U.S.A 
  • Professor Sankara Rao of North Dakota State University, U.S.A 
  • Murali Sundaresan, a student of the lab (1982). Murali has been generous in providing resources to continue the development. The lab is grateful to him for all the help he has rendered. 
During the years of the project, we have received a lot of encouragement from many friends and well-wishers. We wish to thank the following persons for the moral support they have extended to our work.
  • Prof. Vijayalakshmi Rangarajan of the International Institute of Tamil Studies in Madras
  • Prof. Raj Reddy of Carnegie Mellon University, U.S.A
  • Vidya Vrikshah, a volunteer organization in Chennai whose volunteers have played an important role in promoting the use of the software in the country.

The following Alumni have generously helped the project with resources. 
  • M.T.Raghunath (1987)
  • Shoroff Srikant (1988)
  • Ashok Immaneni (1988)
  • S.V.Raman (1988)
  • Anand Sivasubramanian (1989)
  • Sowmini (1990)
  • Dhritiman Banerjee (1992)
  • Manish Khetry (1992)
  • Arul Seelan (1992)
  • Ananthalakshmi (1993)
  • Batchu Suresh (1993)
  • Kavitha (1993)
  • Veena (1993)
  • Ajit Natarajan (1994)
  • Rajagopalan (1994)
  • Raghavendra (1997)
  • Thileepan (1997)
  • Mathew George (1997)
  • Arun Viswanathan (1998)
  • Sriram Sellappa (1998)
  • Bharat Chandra (1999)
  • Subramanyan (1999)
  • Ramadas (1999)
  • Vinay manivel (2000)
  • Ashok Maram (2000)
  • Rohit Fernandez (2000)
  • Sharat Chandran  (2002)

Students who contributed to the development of the Software

The Systems Development Laboratory is indebted to all the students who have contributed to the development of this software. They became a part of the laboratory and identified themselves with the place. Their continued involvement and support over many semesters has given the Systems Development Laboratory, Department of Computer Science and Engineering, IIT Madras, the unique identity of being a truly student managed laboratory. The following have specifically been involved with the software from the early days of the lab.

Ravishankar and Murali: They both built a spline generator in hardware using TTL chips in 1979, which displayed the curves on an oscilloscope. 

C.S. Moghe (Now Prof. CS. Moghe) who built a graphic subsystem using the AMD2900 and laid the foundation for character description in terms of splines and Beziers (1982). 

N.K.Bhat and Ramesh Babu who created cartoon figures and letters using Moghe's Hardware and an old 8085 SDK (1983). 

S.Parvathy, Sarweswara Rao and Raghuram who established the feasibility of Text Display of our scripts on PCs using Bezier Curves (1988). 

M. Anantha Lakshmi: The chief architect of the present system who started to design a portable editor for Indian scripts and also gave us the first working interface library (1991-93). 

Pulavarthy Badari who gave us the initial routines for obtaining PostScript output from Local Language files (1993). 

Veena Avula who wrote the first application: Email in Indian Languages on Sun Workstations (1993). 

Sanjoy Sen and Meenakshi Kaul who established that client server applications are easy to develop using the library. They developed a gopher client capable of displaying Indian language documents served by a gopher server (1993-94). 

Ajitkumar, Rajagopalan and Nawaaz: The trio that redefined the library and made it portable. Paved the way for the next group to develop applications with great ease (1994). 

Ramachandran, Nithrakashyap, Srivaths, KothandaRaman and Vinodha who ported the library to Unix systems, MSWindows, XWindows and developed many useful text processing applications and printing utilities (1995). 

Indira, Aparna and Manjunath who continued the development with new applications which included indexing programs, hypertext links within Indian language documents and a screen editor (1995-96). 

Rajasree, Anitha and Shilpa: Their contribution resulted in the development of a WAIS server and client that could support queries with text strings supplied in Indian languages by essentially modifying the sources for Free WAIS 0.5 (1996-97). 

Mathew George, Raghavendra, Anand, Thileepan and Aparna continued the work through refinements to the library developed earlier and porting the same to newer platforms including the Mac. New applications involving applets, search engines and quality hard copy printouts were pursued by this group. The credit for making available usable versions of lb, mled and llprint goes largely to these five. Thanks to their efforts, the Duke web site came up followed by the IITM web site in Madras, (1996-97). 

Arun Kumar, Sriram and Ramakrishnan have carried forward the development and have provided very useful programs. The early experiments in providing support for ITRANS based documents, started by the previous group have lead to software utilities and a very high quality editor for Windows95 (yes, as a gesture, remembering more than 50 of our students who work for Microsoft, inspite of our own reservations to work with or promote Microsoft products!). Thanks to their sustained efforts with Mathew George extending additional help, the IITM system has evolved into a very useful one for Web presentations of documents in all Indian languages. Bulk of the demos at our web site in Madras is the work of these. These three also integrated Typesetting features into the software, permitting a .llf file to be Typeset and printed using TeX, (1997-1998). 

Note: In Sept. 2001, the website was renamed as

Bharat, Gokul, Subramanyam, Kartik and Ramadas contributed to significant progress during 1998-1999. The win95 based multilingual editor was refined to produce on-screen transliteration. Utilities to convert between llf and other formats such as ISCII, ITRANS etc., were completed. The editor was also tried with Urdu with limited success.

For the first time, applications useful to the Visually handicapped were tried. The win95 editor was enhanced to provide speech output so that visually handicapped persons could run the editor. The resulting package, crude in its speech output for want of intonation, proved to be an extremely valuable piece of software. Simultaneously, output in Bharati Braille, the system standardized for India, was also made possible. The lab became visible in the eyes of the country and organizations for the visually handicapped came with requests for training and use of the software. The Voluntary organization Vidya Vrikshah, graciously offered to provide training in the software for persons working in institutions for the visually handicapped. 

The important area of data bases was also covered and client interfaces developed for querying data bases interactively in Indian scripts. The development was based on ODBC. Java based web interfaces were also developed to deal with SQL data bases and the freely available MYSQL database system under LINUX was used in the application. The team also contributed to many useful font generation utilities as well as linguistic processing modules.

Rudiments of a text based web browser for Indian language text was also tried using the popular Emacspeak package developed by TV  Raman. 

All in all this was a very productive period of development.

Rohit Fernandez, Ashok Maram, SriVidya, Vivek Sharma, Anil Alexander and Vinay Manivel continued the development during 1999-2000. The sound enhanced multilingual editor was improved to accommodate punctuation and special symbols. The text based web browser Lynx was adapted for use under Win95/98 and the enhancements included text to speech output of the screen. Utilities were developed to refine the generation of graphic images and PDF files from llf files for use on the web. A java based input module was created to allow queries to be submitted in Indian languages to a search engine. 

A new era in Indian language computing began with the possibility of using PERL to work with Indian scripts. Special PERL modules were created to allow application development. Important applications such as email, text processing utilities, command processors, tutorials on the use of the ascii keyboard to type in indian languages were some of the examples successfully demonstrated. PERL based development  is presently confined to Linux but many text processing utilities not requiring interaction in Indian languages will work under Win95 as well.

More languages were introduced into the system (Oriya and Punjabi) with the requisite fonts coming out of the font generation utilities completed earlier.  The IITM software is complete in respect of all the scripts except Urdu.

Voluntary organizations from different parts of the country greatly appreciated the efforts put in by the team. Distribution of the software required a CD-ROM to accommodate all the basic applications and the utilities.

The millennium year also proved to be a very productive period.

Balasubramanian, Vikram, Sandeep, Easwar, Pawan Balaji and Hembram worked on utilities for presenting multilingual information on the web along with special applications. During 2000-2001, the sound enhanced multilingual Editor became stable as also the utilities for braille output from .llf files. The possibility of setting up data bases using an sql server and accessed through a suitable client was also demonstrated. Multilingual chat, applications to speak out the contents of a .llf file, Java based animations for stroking of aksharas etc., were completed. An on line demo for text to speech was setup on the web so that users could input text (Devanagari and Tamil) and hear the synthesized output on line. At the same time, the multilingual editor was also made available under Linux. The development under Linux utilized the GTK tool kit to advantage.

Thanks to all these efforts, the old web server in the lab hosted many new and stable demos and the site was renamed

During May 2001, an electrical disturbance had caused a fire in the lab damaging many systems. The lab places on record its appreciation for all the students who worked relentlessly to retrieve data from several older systems that had been rendered inoperable. Prof. Frank Starmer, long time friend of the lab had a valuable piece of advice for us. It was time to "press the reset  button" and start the lab again. It was hard but in about four months, we could rebuild the lab from scratch and set up systems to continue the development.

2001-2002: Efforts concentrated on completing the editor for right to left scripts and also support speech output. Sharat Chandran, Amit Rajith and Suseel Kumar have developed more applications under Windows and Linux. More demos were included. The editor for Arabic and Urdu took shape under Windows.

2002-2003: Pavan Ram, Srinath Shankar and Madhur Dixit continued the development to include Data Base applications. They also enhanced the earlier versions of speech enhanced Lynx and Jaws for Dos to work under Linux. Srinath helped setup the Monier Williams Sanskrit Dictionary in searchable form from a web interface.

After a gap of several years, M.Tech students contributed to the development. Shiv Pal Singh, Milind, Vishal Sahare, Neena Pande, Nageswar and Gopinath completed several utilities including llf2pdf and a viewer for rtf files under Linux.  They also added a command shell supporting a local language user interface. Neena and Nageswar also helped in preparing a voice data base for use under MBROLA. Shiv Pal took the initiative to setup the multilingual Postal Code data base, searchable from a web interface.

2003-2004: Regrettably, student interest had waned, perhaps on account of the increasing complexity of system development. Only Pranay Kumar chose to work in the lab and helped fix some bugs in the Multilingual editors. He also enhanced the utility to transliterate ASCII text into an llf file. Rahul Pratap, a Chemical Engineering undergraduate took interest in the project and wrote the utilities to convert llf files to Unicode and back. The demo on Unicode test file generation is largely his effort.

2004-2005: Students from Engineering Colleges in the city have started contributing to the development. Also, it was gratifying to see willing involvement in the project, by two undergradutes from the Electrical Engineering Department. Kumar Appiah, developed those (known to be difficult) utilities to convert web pages with content in older fonts with text strings in the newer fonts. His contribution includes the online web service utility. Harini Evani worked in the lab during the summer months to add support for running Jaws for Dos under Windows2000/XP. She modified the older VXD based implementation to a VDD based one.

2005-2006 Satish Chandran, undergraduate student from a private Engineering College has spent nearly two years contributing important utilities and polishing many of the older utiltiies and applications. Utilities to create Braille Documents (llf2brl with formatting) and ebook generation (llf2pfd) are his important additions. The year also saw revived activity in respect of the Open Source project at Sourceforge.

Krishna Kumar and Indirani, both from the technical group at ETV, wrote a newer version of the Multilingual Editor using FLTK. Ganesh Burra, who was instrumental in suggesting the Open Source Project in the first place, coordinated their work and took pains to see that the NewsDesks at ETV used the new Editor (called Acharya).

2006-2007: The Multilingual Systems Project will probably continue for another year by which time, it is anticipated that all the effort of the past will go into the Open Source Project. There is renewed interest among the M.Tech students to contribute to the project. Radhika and Rajasekhar have shown committment to adding newer applications. They have introduced many useful applications and have also fixed problems faced with earlier versions of the software, specifically java based applications. Their work directly relates to services for the visually handicapped, specifically providing a speech enhanced interface for reading text from magazines and newspapers in the vernacular.

Our Mentors and our well wishers

Students who have contributed resources

Students who contributed to the development of the Software

Om on a scope
(circa 1979, on a Philips Oscilloscope)

Charlie Brown

(1983- on an HP XY display using AMD 2900 bit slice)

SDL in 1987
Scene around 1987. Wire Wrapping was still the favourite method for prototype boards. Yes, students saw waveforms too!
See enlarged image

SDL in 1988
A BBC Micro being used as a frontend for a CPM Machine.See the Homebrew processor board and the open chassis of the video monitor.
See enlarged image

We have included some photographs taken over the years.

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  The valley of flowers. The valley adjoining the Nandadevi peak in the Himalayas is known as the Valley of Flowers. It is a Unesco World Heritage Site.

Today is Jul. 23, 2024
Local Time: 08 11 02

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