Releasing Anumaan-a predictive text entry system

Today Anumaan (alpha-0.1 version) has been released by C-DAC, Mumbai as a part of its activities and commitment in the area of accessibility. Anumaan is a perspective-based, on-screen predictive text entry system for GNOME desktop. Basically, it is an extension of an Input Method (IM) mechanism (on GNOME desktop) in the sense that it extends its (IM) notion by including the power of text prediction. It has support for UTF-8 unicode encoding. The system allows users to train it and personalize and as per their writing style into different named domains. Hence, it adapts to user’s writing style in some sense. Although, the current version does not support live mode adaptation, still a user can train a domain as many times he  likes.

Anumaan is designed for a (text) sequence prediction based on a certain Context.The context can either be a partial word context or a partial sentence context. Therefore, it is intended to help people suffering from different kinds of motor disability by allowing it to be customized for different kinds of Input devices (e.g. keyboard, mouse, joystick or any other pointing device especially built for people suffering from motor disability). In other words, it can be customized very easily to cater to different hand movement capabilities. The current version is only for mouse and keyboard based interactions. But, we can easily customize it for different hardware input device requirements.
The current released versions have two flavours:
1. Anumaan-standalone: The base system which runs on Java Swing Interface.
2. AnumaanLinux: The Linux version which uses Anumaan-standalone as base and is ported to utilize the accessibility features of GNOME GAIL library. The current interface is accessible to almost all Gtk+ Editable Text Widgets.
Anumaan URLs:
1. Anumaan Main Page on CDAC Mumbai Website:
http://www.cdacmumbai.in/index.php/cdacmumbai/research_and_publications/research_groups/open_source_soft_division/projects/anumaan
2. AnumaanLinux source download:
http://www.cdacmumbai.in/projects/anumaan/downloads/AnumaanLinux-alpha-0.1.tar.gz (released under GNU/GPL 3.0 License)
3. AnumaanLinux Documentation can be accessed at:
http://www.cdacmumbai.in/projects/anumaan/docs/AnumaanLinuxUserManual/index.html
4. Anumaan-standalone download:
http://www.cdacmumbai.in/projects/anumaan/downloads/Anumaan-standalone-alpha-0.1.tar.gz
5. Anumaan-standalone Documentation can be accessed at:
http://www.cdacmumbai.in/projects/anumaan/docs/AnumaanStandaloneUserManual/index.html
6. Anumaan Default Language Model download:
http://www.cdacmumbai.in/projects/anumaan/downloads/AnumaanDefaultLM.tar.gz
Anumaan Videos:
A session of AnumaanLinux: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GSzLt9ZVnOY
A session of Anumaan-standalone: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ah9w37JY7ec
AnumaanLinux build and install: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FYW2LDh4v0c

NB: The application is still evolving, hence please do give us your feedbacks, bug reports or feature enhancement requests.
Please mail us at mailto:predictanumaan@gmail.com

Open Source: an end-user perspective

Some time back in my post “What Open Source really means?” on this blog, I wrote that “open source” should be discussed from end user’s perspective also. So, what that perspective should be? Does open source really hold a value for a real world user?

Open source philosophy strongly advocates the availability of source code alongwith the software. But for a non-technical user who has no programming experience at all, the availability of source code has little meaning because he/she can not do anything with it.

I repeat from my previous post that, for a end-user, it doesn’t matter whether a software is open source or proprietary one as long as it serves his/her own purpose for which he/she is using the software, performs stably, and  is available on some reasonable cost, if not free (of cost or as defined by Free/Open source evangelists).

Here, I am not questioning the relevance of “open source” as a philosophy and as an effective and reliable software development model. Open source is a key factor for spreading IT in countries like India. What I want to say is, for the wider adoption of “open source” in the society, it is very much required to include the point-of-view of end-user also apart from the developer community. For me, it is the end-user who is of utmost importance as far as the use of any kind of software is concerned. If a software holds a value for a user, it is good irrespective of the availability of the source code. A person with no technical knowledge wants a stable, efficient and ready-to-use product that can help him/her performing routine tasks effectively. Is this really the case with all open source softwares?

So, perhaps time has come when open source evangelists should try to open their close minds to identify the ways that can help spreading open source in the society. To open close minds does not mean that open source community should compromise with its fundamental principles, but it should try to accomodate the concerns of a lagrer group of untouched persons into consideration also.  Are all closed source softwares not worth of any use? And, they should be thrown away, since they are available in executable form only. Is this really the case in our daily lives?

Here, I find noteworthy to quote (verbatim) Mr. Robert Sovereign-Smith from his editorial in August, 2009 issue of “Digit” magazine. He  writes, “What started in 1985 as a paper titled the GNU Manifesto, by Richard Satllman, has grown exponentially, under the GNU license and the Free Software Foundation, into the biggest community initiative of all time. Now Stallman is (in)famous for being absolutely against all software with closed source, including freeware. His view has always been that unless the source is shared, software just isn’t truelly free.

In very public arguments, Stallman has been criticised by other “evangelists” for being too rigid with his thoughts. To be honest, I’m inclined to agree with these criticisms. There’s no doubting the accomplishments of Stallman, and we probably wouldn’t have open source of any kind if it wasn’t for radical thinker like him, but with the rate the world and its requirements are changing, can we continue to stick to the ideals like an ancient religion’s diktats? This is why I hate the term “evangelist”-it’s basically a word used to describe someone who tries to convert you to their “religion”.

Over the years, I’ve avidly read views from both sides, as both have argued over the definition of common everyday words such as “free”, “freedom” and drawn distinctions between “free as in beer” and “free as in speech”. However, all this makes absolutely no difference to you and I, the everyday computer users. A lot of us use IrfanView, but it isn’t free for commercial use, open source, so should you stop using it? Ofcourse not-use whatever you feel like, and pay for things if you feel they will help you get your work done. That’s because, unlike the evangelists, we live in the real world, where we never get free beer, and rarely speak our minds-either for fear of insulting someone’s sentiments, or getting beaten up.”

I am also agree with this. Developer community should be able to develop quality software products that are useful for the end-user in his/her routine tasks irrespective of the plateform, philosophy, development model or imposed restrictions. If a good software is available as a freeware or shareware although its source is closed, then it should be welcomed. It is very much required to adopt a practical approach rather than a closed room approach. In this way, I found the stand taken by OSI more practical than that of FSF. For end-user, nothing is untouchable whether open or close.