Open software gives Malayalam publishing a big boost

Malayalam publishing and content generation has received a much deserved boost with the popular free/open source desktop publishing software Scribus now supporting Unicode in Indian languages.

The latest development that frees Malayalam publishing from proprietary software is thanks to the joint effort of the Appropriate Technology Promotion Society (ATPS) with the support of the Telugu daily Prajasakti and the Democratic Alliance for Knowledge Freedom (DAKF) working for the free software movement.

“We have been at this project to make Scribus support Unicode in Indian languages for the last three-odd months. It started of with Prajasakti daily from Andhra Pradesh approaching us to integrate their ERP (Enterprises Resources Planning) system with the editorial workflow, for which the Scribus with Telugu Unicode support is to be used as layout engine. Since it is distributed in free software license, all Indic languages and even Arabic are benefited by this development,” said Anilkumar K.V, chairman of ATPS.

Till now, those in the field of Malayalam publishing had to depend on proprietary software that had its own limitations since they mostly use outdated encoding based on ASCII (American Standard Code for Information Interchange) which limit the usage in multiple languages, he said.

Mr. Anilkumar said that Scribus’ support for Malayalam can still be fine tuned. Since it is open software, deficiencies can be rectified as pointed out by its users in due course. “In fact many issues have been sorted out during the last one month since it has become usable,” he said. Even as more and more people adopt it, there will be scope for more development.” Unlike proprietary software, Scribus has no licensing hassles and is more flexible. Mr. Anilkumar said that the latest development opens up new avenues especially for the newspaper industry. The industry could put this to effective use for better integration of page layout system with editorial workflow, he said.

The latest source code of Scribus-Malayalam is made available at by ATPS. Detailed help for compiling it on Ubuntu system is available at




To prove the utility of the publishing software’s support of Indian languages, including Malayalam, the ATPS and DAKF office-bearers distributed a press release published using the software at a press conference held on Monday.