Kategoriarkiv: language

Why Swedish matters

I Sverige är engelskan är väldigt stark. Speciellt i IT-branschen är vi vana att ha i princip allt på engelska, från kommentarer i koden till stora upphandlingar, rapporter och dokumentation. Trots det ser jag ett stort behov av att kunna prata om IT på svenska. Det gäller både lokala företag och globala företag. Det finns flera anledningar:

  • Företag i Sverige följer svenska lagar som är skrivna på svenska, för att leva upp till kraven ska man kunna formulera sig på svenska.
  • Modersmål eller det språk som man använder mest i vardagen (gäller mig bland annat) är den snabbaste vägen för kommunikation som ger en högre grad av nyansering. Att kunna nyansera krav och önskemål tidigt i projekt är guld värt (enligt många av mina korrespondenter). Man behöver spendera mindre tid på att formulera och tolka krav.
  • En mer ideologisk anledning (men en viktig sådan) är att vi som bor i Sverige har skyldighet att utveckla och hålla svenskan levande, inte minst inom IT-sektorn.

Svenska är en stor möjlighet för att verkligen ge mervärde till våra kunder, möta dem på hemmaplan, prata ett gemensamt språk.

Startpunkten till den här diskussionen har varit en ny webinar som jag planerar hålla den 14 april kl 10. Webinarens titel är SharePoint i molnet.Det finns ganska mycket information om SharePoint Online och Office 365 på engelska. Det är dock ganska sparsamt med information på svenska.

https://www.eventbrite.com/e/sharepoint-i-molnet-tickets-15976529229

Det här är det som väntar dig som vill delta i webinaren:

Intresset för SharePoint Online och Office 365 växer allt mer. Vad behöver man tänka på när man ska använda SharePoint i molnet, vilka är fördelarna och vilka är nackdelarna.

I den här webinaren pratar vi även om skillnaderna mellan SharePoint Online och SharePoint 2013. Vi bjuder in till en webinar med öppen diskussion för era frågor.

Den här webinaren är för er som:

– Vill veta mer om SharePoint Online.

– Vill lyssna och diskutera det på svenska.

– Vill höra om andras erfarenheter och tankar kring det.

Detaljer om hur man deltar i webinaren kommer lite senare.

On Windows keyboard layouts for minority languages in Russia

keyboard-bak-tat-sak

I can’t write in Chuvash in Windows 8 (and all the previous Windows releases). Chuvash is a minority language in Russian Federation. In this blog post I want to summarize the status of the keyboard layout support of the minority languages of Russia and find a way to improve this situation.

Languages and Microsoft

There are thousands of languages. Of course it is hard to support them all. As per 2012-02-21 Windows 8 supports 109 (!) languages. In december 2012 the support for Cheerokee language was added.

Display language, locale and keyboard layout

In Windows 8, when you go to Language preferences – Add a language, you’ll get “a language”. Behind this general word there are three parts which have to be distinguished in this post:

  • Display language (labels, messages and other user interface in the particular language)
  • Locale (a set of preferences for a particular language and region/country like currency, point or comma as a decimal delimiter, ltr vs rtl, encoding and much more)
  • Keyboard layout (just an arrangement of keys, their placement, can be specific for a language or country, can have different systems like Dvorak)

This blog post is about the keyboard layouts, the easiest part of the “language” support in an operating system.

Russian Federation minorities

There are 160 ethnic groups in Russia speaking over 100 minority languages. The most of ethnic groups ar so called stateless nations meaning there is no main country for this nation (e.g. Sami people in Sweden, but not Germans in the USA).

In Russia there are 21 republics which have their own official languages alongside Russian and their purpose is to be home for ethnic groups. I’ll focus mostly on the official languages in these republics in this blog post, but it would be interesting to investigate smaller languages as well.

Allmost all of the minority languages of stateless nations use the Cyrillic alphabet (often with additional letters). So it makes it pretty simple to see how many languages are supported in Windows 8. Just Go to the Language preferences -> Add a language and group them by writing system. See the screenshot above. There are only three minority keyboard layouts which are supported:

  • Bashkir (1,45 millions speakers)
  • Sakha (Yakut, 360 native speakers)
  • Tatar (4,3 millions speakers)

The funny thing is that all the three are Turkic languages.
There are two additional language keyboard layouts which are implicitly supported:

These two languages (which are co-official languages in the republic of Mordovia) don’t use any additional letters. That’s it. So they can write using only the standard Russian keyboard layout.

Keyboard layouts in Linux

Just a little comparison. In Linux distributions there are more minority languages from Russian Federation represented. The supported ones can be found in the /usr/share/X11/xkb/symbols/ru file:

  • Tatar / tt
  • Ossetian / os
  • Chuvash / cv
  • Udmurt / udm
  • Komi / kom
  • Sakha (Yakut) / sah
  • Kalmyk / xal
  • Bashkir / bak
  • Mari / chm

All these keyboard layouts were added by the community. I personally sent the Chuvash and Kalmyk fragments of that file to Sergey Udaltsov who created patch files and pushed it to freedesktop.

keyboard-xal

Windows 8 keyboard layouts and Touch mode

When I tried these three supported minority language keyboard layouts of Russia in touch mode, only one worked! It was the Tatar keyboard layout.
tatar-keyboard-layout-in-touch

The tatars can type all their additional letters in touch mode as well.

Bashkir and Sakha keyboard layouts use the row above qwerty: 12345… Here is the preview for the classic Sakha keyboard layout:

sakha-preview

And what about the virtual touch keyboard layout for Sakha language?

sakha-touch

As you can see there are no keys for the additional letters for Sakha language (ҕ ҥ ө һ).

Summary

Many minority languages of Russian Federation (the most of them already endangered) miss the native keyboard layout support in Microsoft Windows 8 and Windows 7. Windows is a prevalent operating system in Russia. The support for minority language keyboard layout would help people to use their languages and give more chances for languages to survive. For now there are only 3 languages (besides Russian and implicitly some others like Moksha and Erzya) which are supported in Windows 8 with a physical keyboard: Tatar, Bashkir and Sakha. And only one of them (!) works even in touch mode: Tatar.

The purpose of this post is only to identify the status for Russian Federation minority language keyboard layout support in Windows 8. Microsoft Local Language Program (LLP) seems very promising. I hope we will see more languages of Russia and other countries available in “Add language” menu in Microsoft Windows 8.

Long tap and additional letters in Windows 8 (update 2013-03-16)

After I wrote this post I discovered some additional letters available when you long-tap the buttons on the virtual keyboard. Here is an excerpt from the Microsoft Blog about the “press-and-hold”-letters:

There is an interesting counter example in press-and-hold behavior. On a physical keyboard, when you press and hold a character, it repeats. On our touch keyboard when you press and hold, we show alternate characters or symbols. This is something a touch keyboard can do well and a physical keyboard can’t. If you don’t know the specific key combination to show ñ or é or š, for example, it’s painful to type on a physical keyboard. It’s easy to find on the touch keyboard. Practically no one has complained about this departure from convention. We built on it, in fact. You might discover that you can simply swipe from a key in the direction of the secondary key, and that character will be entered, without an explicit selection from the menu. So if you use accented characters a lot, you can get pretty fast with this.

I appreciate this. Here come all the letters I found in the Russian keyboard layout:

Flyout letters Main letter Additional letters
long-tap-u у ү ұ
long-tap-k к ҡ қ
long-tap-n н ң ҥ
long-tap-g г ғ ҕ
long-tap-z з ҙ
long-tap-h х һ
long-tap-o о ө
long-tap-e э ә
long-tap-s с ҫ
long-tap-i и і

Here is the full list of the Cyrillic additional letters:

ү Cyrillic Ue Bashkir, Tatar, Kazakh, Buryat, Kalmyk, Kyrgyz, Mongolian
ұ Straight U with stroke Kazakh
ҡ Bashkir Qa Bashkir
қ Ka with descender Kazakh, Uyghur, Uzbek, Tajik, Abkhaz
ң En with descender Bashkir, Tatar, Kazakh, Dungan, Kalmyk, Khakas, Kyrgyz , Turkmen, Tuvan, Uyghur
ҥ En-ghe (Cyrillic) Sakha, Meadow Mari, Altai, Aleut
ғ Ge with stroke Bashkir, Kazakh, Uzbek, Tofa, Tajik
ҕ Ge with middle hook Sakha, Abkhaz
ҙ Ze with descender Bashkir
һ Shha Bashkir, Sakha, Tatar, Kazakh Buryat Kalmyk Kildin Sami
ө Barred O (Oe) Bashkir, Sakha, Kazakh, Buryat, Kalmyk, Kyrgyz, Mongolian
ә Cyrillic Schwa Bashkir, Tatar, Kazakh, Abkhaz, Dungan, Itelmen, Kalmyk, Kurdish
ҫ Cyrillic The Bashkir, Chuvash
і Dotted i Kazakh, Ukrainian, Belarusian, Khakas, Komi, Rusyn

Here we have three fully functional language keyboard layouts if you are okay with long-tapping:

Bashkir ғ ҡ ҙ ҫ ң һ ә ө ү
Sakha ҕ ҥ ө һ ү
Tuvan ң ү ө

Bashkir and Sakha, I suppose, were considered whilst designing the keyboard layout, and Tuvan language letters only happen to be within the Bashkir and Sakha letters range.

Tatar letters aren’t complete in the standard Russian keyboard layout, the reason for that must be, as I mentioned above, the full functional virtual keyboard for Tatar (where is no need for long-tapping).

There is another language which contains all the letters through long-tapping. Kazakh is absolutely a minority language of Russia, but it doesn’t represent a stateless nation.

Kazakh ғ ә қ ң ө ү ұ і һ

Long-tapping technique could be a solution for many minority languages of Russia:

Language Existing letters To be added
Chuvash ҫ ӗ ӑ ӳ
Udmurt   ӝ ӟ ӥ ӧ ӵ
Meadow Mari ҥ ö ӱ
Hill Mari   ä ö ӱ ӹ

Get and format DateTime string from SharePoint DateTime field

A collegue of mine (his blog here) showed me something nice yesterday. We have a webpart which shows how long ago some list items where created by simply getting the DateTime string from the standard “Created” column.

string x = ((DateTime)item[SPBuiltInFieldId.Created]).ToString();

We ran into trouble however, when we used this webpart on a server in a country using a different time format. The problem was easily fixed like so:

string x = ((DateTime)item[SPBuiltInFieldId.Created]).ToString(“s”);

This converts the DateTime string to a standard format which allows it to be understood by various javascript and jQuery functions and plugins, which was exactly what we needed.

Here is a list of other formats you can get with this method by simply replacing the “s” with another letter.