CSS3 & Telugu: Letter Spacing

CSS has a property called letter-spacing, which allows web authors to style thier text such that letters can be spaced out. E.g.:


Things get interesting for Telugu. A character or letter from the the user’s perspective can actually contain multiple Unicode code points. For example, “స్త్రీ” is one character/letter. Similarly, “స్ట్రాంగ్” has two characters.

When letter spacing is applied to Telugu text, web browsers need to add additional space between characters. What matters is what is considered a letter by each browser might vary.

I tried to test this in few web browsers. It worked properly in Mozilla Firefox and Google Chrome browsers. However, IE 11 has issues. Here is an image showing rendering across these browsers at the time of this post:

Rendering Telugu text with letter-spacing applied in major web browsers

Here is a test page for you to see how your web browser shows it. I didn’t have access to Microsoft Edge browser. If you are using Windows 10, please post a screenshot of that test page from Edge browser.

CSS3 and Telugu: Ordered lists with Telugu numerals and alphabet

It is a custom that ordered lists are presented with numerals or alphabet. And, Telugu web sites would want to present lists in their pages in Telugu numerals or alphabet. For example:

౧. శుక్రుడు
౨. బుధుడు
౩. భూమి
౪. అంగారకుడు

Or, with alphabet:

అ. శుక్రుడు
ఆ. బుధుడు
ఇ. భూమి
ఈ. అంగారకుడు

CSS3 makes these possible. CSS3 added a concept called counter styles and extended list-style-type property to accept any defined counter style as a value. CSS3 also added predefined counter style called telugu for Telugu numerals.

That means we can just write the following CSS for ordered lists to show up with Telugu numbers:

ol {
  list-style-type: telugu;

See this in action. At the time of writing this, it is working fine in Firefox and Chrome. Not in IE 11, though.

CSS3 did not define a counter style for lists with Telugu alphabet. But, the whole point of counter styles is to let web authors write their own counter styles. So, we can define our own list styles.

Let’s first define a counter style:

@counter-style telugu-alphabetic {
  system: alphabetic;
  symbols: 'అ' 'ఆ' 'ఇ' 'ఈ' 'ఉ' 'ఊ' 'ఎ' 'ఏ' 'ఐ' 'ఒ' 'ఓ' 'ఔ' 'అం' 'అః' 'క' 'ఖ' 'గ' 'ఘ' 'ఙ' 'చ' 'ఛ' 'జ' 'ఝ' 'ఞ' 'ట' 'ఠ' 'డ' 'ఢ' 'ణ' 'త' 'థ' 'ద' 'ధ' 'న' 'ప' 'ఫ' 'బ' 'భ' 'మ' 'య' 'ర' 'ల' 'వ' 'శ' 'ష' 'స' 'హ' 'ళ' 'క్ష' 'ఱ';

Now, we can use it as follows:

ol {
  list-style-type: telugu-alphabetic;

See this in action. This works in Firefox. Sadly, other browsers do not yet have support for user defined counter styles (@counter-style rules).

These counter styles can be extended to achieve different formatting needs like placing the number or letter in parentheses. Something like below:

(అ) శుక్రుడు
(ఆ) బుధుడు
(ఇ) భూమి
(ఈ) అంగారకుడు

I compiled few counter styles for Telugu covering major use cases, including styles with parenthesis. What else do you think should be covered?

Telugu Unicode to Anu font converters

Now-a-days, lots and lots of Telugu content (both online and offline) is being created in Unicode. There are many free typing tools for Telugu (even, on mobile phones too). People no longer need to buy proprietary fonts and text editors to compose in Telugu. And, a good number of beautiful Telugu Unicode fonts are available for free download, thanks to Telugu Vijayam project of earlier joint Andhra Pradesh government. (These Telugu fonts are also available in Google Fonts.)

Modern publishing tools such as Adobe InDesign have support for Unicode Telugu. And, many people have already published their books in Unicode.

Despite that, most of the Telugu publishing and printing industry and small DTP operators have not yet moved to Unicode. (We need to create awareness of Unicode and its benefits for Telugu content and publishing industry.)

Because the Telugu publishing industry and media still using proprietary fonts, people are looking for tools to convert Unicode text into Anu and other proprietary Telugu fonts for printing.

Here are a couple of links that try to convert Unicode Telugu text to Anu fonts:

Continue reading Telugu Unicode to Anu font converters

CSS3 and Telugu: Drop caps using ::first-letter pseudo element

In the publishing world, it is a convention to style the first character of the article/story distinctively. Drop cap example When it comes to the web, people use different techniques to achieve the same, famous being adding extra markup around the first letter. With ::first-letter pseudo element being available in all modern web browsers, it became the simplest way to achieve drop caps.

For example, to style the first letter of every paragraph, we can use the following CSS rule:

Continue reading CSS3 and Telugu: Drop caps using ::first-letter pseudo element

Round-up #2: Firefox for Android in Telugu; Chandam, a tool for Telugu chandassu

Firefox for Android is now available in Telugu

The Firefox web browser for Android version 31 was released with new locales Telugu and 10 other Indian languages. That means now we can have the web browser in our own language. The catch is you need to have Telugu as the language from Android Language Settings. There are few Samsung smartphones that have UI available in Telugu.

Mozilla is planning for the ability to change the default language of Firefox for Android in future releases.

Update (2014-09-04): You now have (from Firefox 32) the ability to change the language of Firefox for Android irrespective of the Android language.

Chandam, a complete software for Telugu chandassu

Dileep Miriyala announced the availability of Chandam, a web-based tool for Telugu chandassu. Chandam helps to analyze Telugu padyaalu according to chandassu rules: gana vibhajana, yati, praasa, etc. He has also published an article in EeMaata introducing Chandam. The Chandam web site itself has lots of documentation about using the software and on writing Telugu padyaalu.

Continue reading Round-up #2: Firefox for Android in Telugu; Chandam, a tool for Telugu chandassu

Round-up #1 (August 2013)

Samsung mobiles in Indian languages

It has been reported that Samsung will support more Indian languages in its mobiles. The news item said:

Samsung announced the availability of its user interface and applications in nine Indian languages — Hindi, Punjabi, Bengali, Tamil, Gujarati, Marathi, Telugu, Kannada and Malayalam — on its smartphones and Tablet PC, on its smartphones and Tablet PC. As of now, the option is supported on Galaxy Grand, Galaxy S4 and Tab 3.

I did not find anything to this effect on Samsung India’s website. If you have come across these devices in local languages, please post screenshots and share your experience.

Multilingual names in OpenStreetMap

OpenStreetMap has support for labels in local languages. Here is a screen shot showing a name is being added in Telugu.

Adding Telugu name in OpenStreetMap

Continue reading Round-up #1 (August 2013)

Call for translating WordPress into Telugu

Did you know WordPress is available in Telugu? It is! However, it is not fully translated into Telugu yet. You can help. You can translate both WordPress.org and WordPress.com:

Read more about this in my Telugu blog: translating WordPress into Telugu.

Continue reading Call for translating WordPress into Telugu

Free Telugu Typing Tutor from Kinige

Couple of weeks ago, Kinige launched a free Telugu typing tutor. It teaches the InScript keyboard layout, which is standardized by the Indian Government. (InScript layout can reduce as much as 20% keystrokes when compared to phonetic methods.) Here is a screen shot of the Kinige Telugu Typing Tutor:

A screen shot of Kinige Telugu Typing Tutor

Unlike other Telugu typing tutors, the lessons in the Kinige typing tutor are cleverly designed to introduce the key positions—instead of alphabets.

Continue reading Free Telugu Typing Tutor from Kinige

4 Telugu books in Project Gutenberg

V.B. Sowmya wrote to Telugu Pustakam group in Facebook that Onamaalu became 4th Telugu book on Project Gutenberg. Project Gutenberg is a web site that digitizes copyright-expired books with volunteer effort and offers the resulting ebooks for free download.

All four Telugu books in Project Gutenberg so far are of Mahidhara Rama Mohana Rao. Here are the links (with dates when they became available) for reading or downloading them as ebooks:

  1. Subhalekha (February 28, 2012)
  2. Agnigundam (April 28, 2012)
  3. Kollayi Gattite Nemi (September 6, 2012)
  4. Onamaalu (January 14, 2013)

Continue reading 4 Telugu books in Project Gutenberg