Today I discovered Microsoft's phonetic input tool (Many thanks to Dileep's comments in Venkata Ramana's blog entry). Till now I used font converters to help me with my Telugu blogging. I might not need them anymore. To start with, this phonetic tool does what the converters do, but it does them within MS Office programs thus taking away a need to do copy+paste jobs.
Let me explain. Whenever I published an entry in my Telugu blog, I had to
1. Go to lekhini.org
2. Type my Telugu post in English. Lekhini has a simple, user-friendly interface and it converts English letters to Telugu font.
3. Copy this post, paste and then publish it in Blogger.
4. Iterate the above steps for any corrections.
It was same when I Telugu-chatted with someone on Messengers. Thankfully, I was quick with my ALT+TAB, CNTRL+C, CNTRL+V routine so the other person usually didn't have a clue about the screen jugglery I performed to type simple Telugu sentences in తెలుగు. But all that seems to be a thing of past now, with this tool switched on I can type Indic fonts directly into Blogger, Yahoo Messenger or any document.
The tool supports Bengali, Gujarati, Hindi, Kannada, Konkani, Malayalam, Marathi, Punjabi, Sanskrit, Tamil and Telugu fonts. The installation and the subsequent steps are very easy. Firstly, the tool works on Windows XP (SP2) machines. After installing the software, you should change 'Regional and Language settings' in your Control panel by clicking on DETAILS button in the LANGUAGES tab. Under the PREFERENCES heading, check if LANGUAGE BAR button is enabled. It will appear disabled if you checked "Turn off advanced text services" box in the next ADVANCED tab. Uncheck it if that's the case (you might have to restart the computer after doing this). Choose 'Show language bar on the desktop" option in LANGUAGE BAR SETTINGS screen. That done, Language bar will appear on your desktop. You can then change the language to any of the above mentioned ones - and type away! Simple!!
I love the tool for another reason also. Yesterday I experimented with Windows inscript typing for Telugu. I had to take help of Telugu keyboard layout for this, and it felt like my first day with type-writing. It took me about 30 minutes to come up with 3 coherent lines. Today after installing the Phonetic input tool, I typed 3 Telugu documents (over 550 words) in the same time.
If you have an Indic blog, you should definitely give this tool a try.