Urdu's history online

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  • Subject: Urdu's history online
  • From: Zunaira Durrani <zunaira.durrani at gmail dot com>
  • Date: Tue, 15 Jun 2004 11:21:41 +0500
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    • will find it worth a read.
      Editor SPIDER - Pakistan's Internet Magazine
      Found in Translation
      Urdu on the Web has developed a presence of its own at long last.
      By Kashif Hoda and Zainab Lakhani
      SPIDER [www.spider.tm] June 2004
      It is hard to imagine that the history of Urdu on the Internet is now
      a decade old.
      The first step in introducing the Internet as a new medium for Urdu,
      was made on May 10 1994, by Syed Zafar Kazmi when he started a
      newsgroup for Urdu poetry. The newsgroup was called
      alt.language.urdu.poetry (ALUP). For some years this was the only
      place where Urdu lovers had a platform to discuss Urdu literature.
      Urdu sites were to come later.
      In the beginning Urdu sites were nothing more than personal webpages
      with some pages dedicated to Urdu poetry; almost all of them presented
      Urdu in Roman text. In June 1997, Shahbaz Chaudhry suggested using a
      True Type Urdu font to make Urdu webpages. In October that year, Umair
      Khan started his website, Urduweb.com; he not only used an Urdu font
      to create webpages but provided people with the software to write Urdu
      in e-mail. Soon there was a long list of Urdu sites using UrduWeb
      Soon after, Naseem Amjad of Lahore released Urdu Nigaar. This software
      was designed especially for creating Urdu webpages. The font used was
      AlKatib1, and was modified from an Arabic font. While there were many
      downloads for Urdu Nigaar, this did not result in many people creating
      webpages with it, since viewing Urdu webpages required a download and
      installation of the Urdu font; in the days when a large number of
      users accessed the Net from public terminals, it was not possible to
      download and install software on the computers they were using. In
      early 1998, Ali Hasnain Shah of Germany experimented with Dyanamic
      Font Technology (Microsoft called it OpenType) to create Urdu webpages
      for which users were not required to install Urdu fonts in their
      system. He used the font Urdu khat-e-naqsh.
      All these methods of creating Urdu webpages used modified Arabic Naksh
      fonts as replacements for actualy Urdu fonts. Pakistan Data Management
      Services (PDMS) was the first to create a font that was very close to
      Urdu Nastaleeq. Known as Urdu98, this font worked on any Windows
      operating system, and was a plug-in which was installed the first time
      you visited any website that used Urdu98. The installation process
      required minimum interaction from the user and the result was
      satisfactory. Content rich websites, such as the Daily Jang (an Urdu
      newspaper), started using it, but the price of US$250 kept it out of
      reach for most users.
      The most popular method for making Urdu websites continues to be by
      using Urdu .GIF files created by InPage. InPage, developed by Concept
      Software, an India-based company, displays the true Nastaleeq font. It
      uses a ligature-based system developed by Mirza Ahmed Jamil, a
      Pakistani artist. In this system, all possible Urdu words are stored
      in different font files. When users type in text, it is matched to the
      existing files, and a true nastaleeq rendition is performed on the
      screen. Additionally, the ligature system stops users from just
      copying and pasting text into any other application. The only way to
      export Urdu text created by the earlier versions of InPage is to make
      an image file (which is generally a .GIF).
      The honor of being the oldest Urdu website around goes to Urdustan.com
      (the writer of this article is the founder of urdustan.com) which was
      launched in August 1998. However, UrduPoint.com is the most popular
      website in terms of traffic. While some news sites such as the Jang
      and Nawa-i-Waqt may get more traffic than UrduPoint.com, UrduPoint is
      a 'live' website while Urdu newspapers are merely publishing replicas
      of their paper editions.
      Urdu is known for its quality literary magazines. New magazines
      dedicated to the promotion of Urdu will be appearing online shortly.
      Urdu magazines, such as Urdustudies.com, published in English by Prof.
      Muhammad Umar Memon of the University of Wisconsin are available in
      their entirety online for anyone to download and read. Jadeed Adab,
      edited by Haider Qureshi of Germany, is the first Urdu magazine to
      publish online and paper editions simultaneously. While literary
      magazines were slow to join the Internet party they are catching up
      fast, with many planning to launch their websites in a few months
      Many Urdu writers have their own websites, they communicate with each
      other using e-mail and have set up a mailing list called urdu_writers
      to discuss ideas and propagation of news related to Urdu. E-mails are
      also used by many literary journals to get content for their
      magazines. Haider Qureshi, while living in Germany, has been able to
      publish his magazine Jadeed Adab by simply using e-mail to communicate
      with different contributors. Ahmed Hamesh, the editor of Tashkeel,
      which is published from Karachi, also uses e-mail on a daily basis.
      ApniUrdu.com, UrduWord.com, and UrduSeek.com makes clever use of
      technology for the benefit of Urdu users. All of these sites apply
      different ways to provide online translation services. ApniUrdu.com is
      really remarkable in that it translates English sentences into Urdu.
      Faisal Naseem, the young programmer of ApniUrdu.com, has made his
      technology open so that others can benefit from it. This attitude will
      help Urdu not only survive but progress, a notion that was unthinkable
      just a few years ago.
      Considering what Urdu has managed to achieve so far in the last 10
      years, it may be safe to expect an even brighter decade for Urdu on
      the Internet.
      Related sites:
      Jadeed Adab
      Pakistan Data Management Services