Enabling Complex Asian Scripts on Mobile Devices

TitleEnabling Complex Asian Scripts on Mobile Devices
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2011
AuthorsAhmad, W, Hussein, S
JournalLocalisation Focus - The International Journal of Localisation
KeywordsComplex Writing Systems, localisation, Mobile Devices, Open Type Fonts, Pango, Smart-Phones


The increasing penetration of mobile devices has resulted in their use in diverse domains such as education, health, entertainment, business, sports, and social networks. However, a lack of appropriate support for many local languages on mobile devices, which use complex scripts rather than Latin scripts, is constraining many people across developing Asia and elsewhere from using their mobile devices in the same way. There are some ad hoc solutions for certain scripts, but what is needed is a comprehensive and scalable framework which would support all scripts. The Open Type Font (OTF) framework is now being widely used for supporting complex writing systems on computing platforms. If support for OTF is also enabled on mobile devices, it would allow them to also support complex scripts. This paper reports on work in this area, taking Pango, an open source rendering engine, and porting and testing its language modules on a mobile platform to provide support for Open Type Fonts. The paper describes the process for successful deployment of this engine on Nokia devices running the Symbian operating system for Urdu, Hindi and Khmer languages. The testing results show that this is a viable solution for enabling complex scripts on mobile devices, which can have significant socio-economic impact, especially for developing countries.



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