This guide will introduce the concepts behind Unicode and how it can be used for writing Punjabi in Gurmukhi script. It is designed for people who are familiar with Gurmukhi and have used Gurmukhi on a computer before.
Traditionally, Ascii fonts sets have been used to represent different languages on computers. This is an extension of using different fonts within the same language. For example, when writing in English, one can use various font sets like "Times Roman" or "Arial", etc. This method has many restrictions and disadvantages when used to represent characters of different languages. The main disadvantage is the none compatibility with other computers; it is a non-regulated and non-standardised system; every computer needs to have "the particular fonts set" loaded before the text will display.
To resolve problems associated with representing characters of the many different world languages, the computer industry has come up with a better solution. This is to use a "universal" method of representing the world's many languages - the solution has become known as Unicode. The FAQ section below answers some important questions.
mini FAQ: (For more details "click here")
- 1. What are the advantages of using Unicode for Gurmukhi?
Unicode is the international standard for data interchange. It is slowly but surely replacing all other standards used across the world. With a Unicode compatible computer system you can:
- Name files and folders using Gurmukhi.
- Search the entire web in Gurmukhi as you can do now for English. Major search engines already support Unicode Gurmukhi.
- Create programs in Gurmukhi.
- Have your web page titles in Gurmukhi.
- Sort and organise data on your entire computer.
- Exchange data with other users without loss of information and without specific fonts.
- Also see - Benefits of Unicode
- 2. I've already got text at web site in ASCII Punjabi, how can I convert it to Unicode?
The Punjabi Computing Resource Centre provides software to enable you to migrate font-based Gurmukhi to Unicode. The program in question - the Gurmukhi Unicode Conversion Application - is free and available to download right now! We also have resources that help you make Unicode compatible web sites.
To get started you need to check that your computer supports Unicode and install the appropriate software to handle Gurmukhi. This is a simple process if your operating system has this ability.
Windows XP and newer versions of Windows will fully support Unicode Gurmukhi. Older versions of Windows (95, 98, ME) do not support Unicode Gurmukhi. If you have an older version of Windows, you can download Internet Explorer 6.0 which will allow you to view Unicode Gurmukhi web pages. You will not be able to type in Unicode Gurmukhi on older versions of Windows.
GNU/Linux based distributions also support Unicode Gurmukhi. You just need to ensure that your locale is UTF-8 and that Indic fonts are installed. Once this is done, you just need to change the keyboard layout to type in Gurmukhi (easily done via a panel keyboad layout applet). One can even have the whole desktop environment in Punjabi if pa_IN.utf8 locale is used.
Details on how to enable Unicode Gurmukhi on your computer depending on your operating system are available. Details on having Unicode Gurmukhi support in GNU/Linux are here: Indic support in Gnome and KDE.
After you have enabled Gurmukhi support on your computer, you should install some Unicode Gurmukhi fonts if you have not got any already. A selection of free fonts is available. We recommend you install both Saab and AnmolUni.
Finally, you should get to grips with your keyboard layout. If you are unhappy, you can download a different one or you can get the Microsoft Keyboard Layout Creator to make your own. The same keyboard layout can be used for all Unicode Gurmukhi fonts. If you change the layout, this will not affect the fonts you are using.
- Gurmukhi Unicode keyboard based on DrChatrikWeb font (this keyboard layout is made by: Amrinder Singh Sandhu)
- Punjabi_Gurmukhi Unicode keyboard based on GurbanilLipi
Unicode is designed as a character set that allows virtually all written scripts in the world to be used on a computer. It is a monumental step forward and allows non-English languages to be used universally on computer systems.
“Unicode provides a unique number for every character, no matter what the platform, no matter what the program, no matter what the language.”
How Unicode differs from fonts
Historically, Gurmukhi has been represented using vast numbers of proprietary fonts – each with their own encoding method and keyboard layout. They worked by changing the appearance of Latin text characters so that they formed Gurmukhi. For example, with AnmolLipi the Latin capital letter ‘A’ represents Era.
Using a different font would corrupt the Gurmukhi text and make it unreadable. For example, DrChatrikWeb shows the same letter as Ura.
Unicode does away with this ambiguity. Instead, it represents Gurmukhi with its own characters and does not use Latin text. This is standardised on all computers so no matter what font you use, the text will be the same!
Unicode also separates encoding from input. This means that you can have any type of keyboard layout that you want and the underlying text will always be the same.
What you should know
There are peculiarities involved with using Unicode Gurmukhi that one should be aware of.
The concept of independent vowels is unusual in Gurmukhi. Unlike other Indian scripts, Gurmukhi constructs independent vowels by using a combination of dependent vowel signs with Ura, Era and Iri. In keeping with other Indian scripts such as Devanagari, Unicode encodes these independent vowels separately. Thus when you wish to type Iri and Bihari you must use the pre-composed Iri Bihari character.
Conjuncts such as Paireen Haha and Paireen Rara are created using a Devanagari like Halant. Thus, if you wish to type ‘ਪ੍ਰ’ you would enter Puppa (ਪ), Halant (੍) and finally Rara(ਰ).
The above two issues can be addressed using different keyboard layouts. For example, you could have a keyboard layout that converted the individual key combinations of Iri and Bihari to the pre-composed Iri Bihari character. You could also have a key that contained both a Halant and a Rara/Haha so that when it is pressed it would automatically show the Paireen form. Some keyboards may contain these features and you are free to use whichever you find more comfortable.
In GNU/Linux, however, that above issue is easily dealt with a single keyboard layout. In KDE for example, you just need to be working in UTF-8 locale, have Indic fonts installed, and have Gurmukhi keyboard layout (keyboard: "in" and variant: "guru") active. Then, to type "amrit" for example, you would type: ਅ + ੰ + ਮ + ੍ + ਰ + ਿ + ਤ + ੁ to get "ਅੰਮ੍ਰਿਤੁ".
Characters in Unicode are entered in logical order – that is the order that they are pronounced and not how they are written. Therefore if you wish to type a syllable with Sihari in it, you must type the Sihari after the character it applies to. The computer will then reposition this to the left. For example, to type ‘ਵਿਚ’ you would enter Vava (ਵ), Sihari (ਿ) and then Chucha (ਚ).
Unicode strongly enforces the basic rules of Gurmukhi. You are therefore not able to enter character combinations that are invalid in modern Gurmukhi. For example, you cannot attach more than one vowel sign to a consonant. If you attempt to do this, a dotted circle will appear next to the second vowel that prevents it joining onto the consonant.
How to Write in Punjabi or Gurmukhi?
1. Copying Gurmukhi Text:
If the text is not written in unicode format then it need to be converted from ASCII format to unicode. This can be done by using a utility called: Gurmukhi Unicode Conversion Application which you can get free from:
Once you have downloaded and installed this application, simply copy text into the top panel; press the convert button and the text appears in unicode format in the bottom panel. You can then copy this via the clipboard to any other application.
2. Inputting Gurmukhi text:
This is more involved as it requires you to "switch on" Gurmukhi language on your Windows xp system via control panel - Regional and Language option. User named Sukh on wikipedia has been very useful in this respect. I will try and get details of the data that he sent me sometime ago which allowed me to activate this facility on my computer.
Procedure for Windows xp: (Not Tested yet)
a. Select Control panel then select Regional and Language options. Select tab Languages.
b. Once you have the Languages window, under Supplementary language support, tick the first box - Install files for complex script ....
c. Also under the Languages panel, at the top select the detais button at the top under - Text services and Input lanuages,
d. Once the Text services and Input lanuages window is displayed, Install the Punjabi language option...
Please see this link: Enabling complex text for more details
OnScreen Typing without any Install/Download
ਇਹ ਜਰੂਰ ਤੁਹਾਡੇ ਲਈ ਲਾਭਕਾਰੀ ਸਾਬਿੱਤ ਹੋਵੇਗਾ। ਤੁਸੀਂ ਪੰਹਾਬੀ, ਬਿਨਾਂ ਕਿਸੇ Download ਜਾਂ Install,ਕਿਤੇ ਵੀ ਬੇਠੇ, ਲਿੱਖ ਸਕਦੇ ਹੋ॥
ਸਾਰੇ ਕੰਮ ਕਾਪਿਰਾਈਟ ਐਕਟ ਮੁਤਾਬਿਕ ਗੁਰਪ੍ਰਤਾਪ ਸਿੰਘ(ਪੀ.ਸੀ.ਆਰ.ਸੀ) ਲਈ ਰੱਖਵੇਂ ਹਨ।
Used with permission from the Punjabi Computing Resource Centre.