Today, I'm introducing Varnam Editor, an easy software for you to write Malayalam and other Indian languages. It is easily installable for GNU/Linux distros like Ubuntu, Linux Mint, Debian, Archlinux etc.
Technically, it's an editor for transliterating Indian languages. Varnam Editor uses an existing library called Varnam and makes it easy to install & use.
From Wikipedia :
Transliteration is a type of conversion of a text from one script to another that involves swapping letters (thus trans- + liter-) in predictable ways (such as α → a, д → d, χ → ch, ն → n or æ → ae).
Basically transliteration is Manglish to Malayalam conversion. Example :
ennaa -> എന്നാ
We write the text in english letters and it will be converted to the language we need. This can be done for any languages. Even malayalam to hindi or tamil to bangla. Check out libindic project which do just that.
Varnam is a great tool ! I found it very useful and typing with it so easy ! There's an ibus integration which makes it easy to type natively in apps (ibus is a keyboard input system for GNU/Linux.) :
Compiling and installing
libvarnam will give a nifty command line tool :
varnamc -s ml -t aa ennaa undu
which will give an output :
ആ എന്നാ ഉണ്ട്
Installing varnam for the first time won't give good predictions. You need to import a word corpus. Read the README. This is also another problem that is solved by my flatpak package.
One amazing feature of Varnam is that it has predictions + character map :
ennaa -> എന്നാ eNNaa -> എണ്ണാ
So capitalizing letters will give better results. Google Input Tools doesn't support this.
Why I Built Varnam Editor
Altough varnam is a great tool, setting it up was difficult :
- Need to compile and manually install
- No debian or other distro package
- Setting it with ibus didn't work in some apps such as Telegram (Qt app)
- In KDE+i3, switching ibus layouts didn't work sometimes
- Varnam has to be set up to learn words which is time consuming
- For the average user, setting up Varnam is hard
- Google Input Tools which does transliteration isn't available for GNU/Linux
Varnam is such a great tool that most people don't know of it, possibly because it's hard to set up. So to make things very very easy, I made a Flatpak package ! 🎉
So I made an editor web app that integrates with the
varnamc CLI tool installed in the system :
I purposefully avoided electron, cause that would make it heavy. Instead I used Python eel.
- Install flatpak
- Download the latest varnam.zip from here
- Extract the zip file
- Double clicking the extracted
varnam.flatpakfile may open it in your Softwares app and allow you to install from there
- If step 4 didn't work, open a terminal an do these :
cd ~/Downloads flatpak install varnam.flatpak
I don't know if it'll work in Windows, but it may work with the new Windows subsystem for Linux. The steps are same as GNU/Linux's. Please do let me know what it took to make it work there. I'll include it here.
If you have any problems setting it up, please feel free to comment below.
- Supports Malayalam, Hindi, Tamil, Telugu, Bangla
- Malayalam works really good. Better than Google Input Tools
- Free & Open Source Software
- Pressing the corresponding number will pick the suggested word
Thanks to Navaneeth K N for this amazing Varnam library without which we won't be able to type Malayalam so easily in GNU/Linux !