Google IME: Kannada

Google has released its IME for Indian languages! And ಹೌದು (yes), Google Kannada IME is available! 🙂

I am using it as my primary Kannada IME and it is pretty impressive. I was using the Baraha IME for Kannada transliteration until now. It is too early to comment on how Google Kannada IME handles the esoteric characters or words of the language or on its performance. But, it is definitely a good user experience, right out of the door. Google Pinyin IME has been available for years now and is a big hit. Surely their experience in that has served them well for other (easier) languages. (A Chinese language IME is any day far harder than any of the Indian languages.)

One major plus with the Google IME is that it shows word suggestions as you type. It also looks like Google IME maintains a user cache where I assume it will store the user picks of words. That should help the IME suggestions get better with time. Also to be noted is that this is yet another area where Google has squarely beaten Microsoft. All the NT flavours of Windows have always had complete Unicode support from the kernel up, but their Kannada IME was never a good experience. They stagnated development on their IMEs and look who got their goat! All in all, Google IME is a refreshing new experience to type in ಕನ್ನಡ (Kannada)! 🙂

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TeX: Kannada using XeTeX

LaTeX neither supports Windows fonts nor Unicode text. This makes creating documents in Indian languages with LaTeX very hard. But, there is a solution: XeTeX. It extends the TeX implementation to work with Windows fonts and Unicode text.

If you are using MikTeX on Windows, XeTeX is already included in its default installation! Here is how to obtain the Kannada PDF shown above:

  1. Create a kannada.tex file with this text:
    \documentclass{article}
    \usepackage{fontspec}
    \setmainfont[Script=Kannada]{Tunga}
    \begin{document}
    ಏನಿದು ಲಾಟೆಕ್! ಗೊತ್ತಾ ನಿಮಗೆ?
    \end{document}

    Script indicates the language (Kannada) and Tunga is the name of a Kannada font on Windows. The Kannada text was typed using the Baraha IME transliteration software.

  2. Make sure to save the file as UTF-8 or any other Unicode encoding.
  3. Compile the file to PDF using xelatex, which is latex built on top of XeTeX:
    $ xelatex kannada.tex

That is it, it is that simple! 🙂 To create a PDF in a different Indian language, change the respective parameters in \setmainfont.