Thursday, October 06, 2011
Few days ago my uncle was asking me about how to read bangla web pages in his Android tablet. While I was explaining things to him, I thought I should share this information in case it helps someone else.

First of all, it's quite interesting that even though this Android stock browser and Google Chrome desktop browser are both 'browsers', and came out of the same company, there is little /no communication between these the two development teams! So rendering stuffs are not really the same in those two browsers.

Anyways, so there are basically two problems in Android to render Bangla texts. There is no Bangla font installed in Android, and even if you manage to install the fonts (will show in a bit), Android text rendering cannot handle the font properly, it does not know where to draw ই-কার , রেফ etc.

The easiest way to read some Bangla web pages is to use Opera mini (not opera mobile!!!). Steps:
  1. Install Opera mini. 

  2. In the address bar write config:

  3. At the end of the options list, mark "Yes" to use Bitmap fonts for complex scripts. (And that's how it will manage to render without native font)

  4. That's it... now from opera mini you can read bangla newspaper, read your friends posts in facebook mobile (try if opera mini jumps to crappier mobile version of facebook)

So far so Good.. but you still cannot see Bangla font in any native apps. You are almost out of luck there, but believing on something is better than nothing, you can try the following step. BUT YOU NEED to have the root access. I am not encouraging you to root your device, do at your own risk, and if you dont' know what rooting is, then you better skip the rest :)
  1. Install ES File explorer from market
  2. From Settings mark Root explorer and Mount file system. Now all the hidden system are free to play with (and yes, accidentally deleting or messing with the files may be fatal).

  3. With ES File explorer go to /system/fonts and create a backup copy of DroidSansFallback.ttf  so that you can put it back if you need later. I usually copy it sdcard/backup
  4. Now download some Bangla unicode font. Any font should do, but I recommend Siam Rupali. (Thank you  Md. Tanbin Islam Siyam.)
  5. Rename this font Siyamrupali.ttf to DroidSansFallback.ttf.
  6. Paste the renamed bangla font to /system/font (replace the original  DroidSansFallback.ttf)

  7. Reboot
Done!! Now you can see Bangla fonts in native browser or facebook app, however, as you can see rendering is not nice!

I have heard 'harfbuzz' text rendering library has been included in honeycomb. Did not find much info about it, but harfbuzz should have no problem to render bangla font perfectly. Does anyone have a honeycomb (and rooted) to try installing font and see if it works nicely? //i have a honeycomb tablet, but unfortunately, I am not allowed to root.

- Gagan
p.s. the screenshots are from my Dell Streak 5 phone.


posted by Gagan at 10/06/2011 01:43:00 AM | Permalink |