A Hindi Word-Processor
DevaNagari is the script used for writing Hindi, Sanskrit, Marathi and some other languages of South Asia. In 1993, Akhilesh Gupta wrote a bilingual plain-text editor 'Emend' for processing DevaNagari along with English (for Windows 3.1). Emend was later renamed as Lekhani/Lekhni (लेखनी; lekhanee).
In 1996, Akhilesh Gupta released version 1 of Lekhani as shareware. It included the first ever font containing glyphs of DevaNagari and Latin. About 1,20,000 free copies of version 1 and 1.1 (for Windows 95) were distributed. Some of the leading computer magazines included one of these two versions in their CDs.
The last version of Lekhani came out in 2001. It was a small but smart bilingual text editor. It was of great help to all those computer users who wanted to have Hindi text mixed with English text.
Typing Indian Scripts
For typing simple applications of general public, typists still use mechanical typewriters in India! (DevaNagari typewriters by Remington were very common.) The keyboard layout of these typewriters is called 'Hindi Typewriter Layout'. This layout isn't very good for typing text of Indian languages (like Hindi) in Computers.
Following is the layout that LeKhaNi supported; it is very similar to the 'Hindi Typewriter Layout'.
Software and Encoding Standards for Indian Scripts
An attempt by Indian Bureau of Standards to standardize encoding of Indian scripts resulted in ISCII (Indian Script Code for Information Interchange). Unfortunately no operating system supported it! Then came Unicode; which based its Indic blocks on ISCII.
ISCII as well as Unicode require complex text layout at operating system's level to support Indic scripts. The operating systems of 90's were not having any component for complex text layout and rendering. So fonts encoded as per 'Hindi Typewriter Layout' (or Remington) were best possible form of hacking (to write Indian scripts) as it required little or no text layout!
'Hindi Typewriter Layout' was the best solution (or fix) when no OS supported any standard for Indian scripts. Lekhani used this layout as typists were comfortable with it and because it was simple (i.e. no complex text layout).
Now the operating systems (Apple's OS X, Microsoft's Windows XP, 7, etc.) have components for properly rendering complex text. These OSes support Unicode and not ISCII. So Unicode is now the standard.
INSCRIPT layout is the standard by Indian Bureau of Standards for keying-in Indian scripts. It is efficient but quite different from either 'Hindi Typewriter Layout' or underlying QWERTY; that's why very few typists use it! Many typists prefer 'Hindi Typewriter Layout'. General public prefer 'Phonetic', which is based loosely on QWERTY. All these layouts are radically different!
LeKhaNi is Embracing Unicode
Lekhani don't allow a user to enter any illogical DevaNagari sequence! Lekhani is just the second program with such facility and only one for GUI/Windows. We worked for years to make Lekhani a smart program for keying in bilingual text of Nagari languages and English. Alas, about 70-80% of code (program) of Lekhani need to be rewritten to make it Unicode conforming software!
During 2003 to 2005 we developed our first Unicode conforming OpenType font - 'Akhil HE'. We can proudly say that it is the best font ever designed for DevaNagari. We are developing Lekhani, but due to our limited resources and magnitude of work required to make it a good entry-level word processor, we won't be able to release it in near future!
At present we recommend OpenOffice (with 'Akhil HE' and SuNāgarī) till Unicode conforming version of Lekhani is available. As you may be knowing that OpenOffice is a resource hungry giant, you may need additional RAM! In most of the cases, it is better to install more RAM than buy a new PC, as you are not required to reinstall your programs and copy important data.
OpenOffice is surely a great freeware.
Unicode Compliant Fonts and Software for Hindi, Sanskrit, Marathi and Nepali
For Windows 2000 or XP, we recommend that you use our Unicode compliant Hindi Font with OpenOffice or MS Office.
The Hindi (DevaNagari) fonts supplied with these operating systems (Win XP/7) are not typographically great. These fonts do not have glyphs for '5', '8' and '9' as used in North India for Hindi and other languages. These fonts contain glyphs as used in 'Marathi'.
We are sure that you will like our 'Akhil HE' (Hindi Unicode font) for typesetting Hindi, Sanskrit, Nepali and other North Indian languages with English. You may opt for our 'Akhil ME' (Marathi Unicode font) for typing Marathi and Konkani. All other type-foundries don't recognise these differences!
New Keyboard Layout for Hindi, Sanskrit, Marathi and Nepali
We will release LeKhaNi's new version in future, which will be using Unicode. It will support our newly designed keyboard layout called 'SuNāgarī'..
The modern operating systems directly support INSCRIPT key-layout for keying in Hindi, Marathi, Nepali, Sanskrit text encoded in Unicode. These operating systems require additional software to enter text using popular keyboard layouts like phonetic or efficient SuNāgarī.