AlaaShaker's Weblog

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Arabic text driving you crazy?!

with 6 comments

Now, you want to type some text in Arabic, let’s say a one-page letter .. No, half-a-page letter .. Let’s even say a single paragraph, OK? How long does it take you to just find where the next letter is?!!!

No matter how much I train myself to the Arabic keyboard layout – it’s never like the English! I’m typing in every letter in this post without even looking at the keyboard, wouldn’t you just dream to do the same with Arabic text?

Instead, we all go for what we call, Franco Arabic, which is more like the native Arabic syntax in the technology world. Time goes by and we ended up with a generation that doesn’t know how to spell yasta6ee3 and yadtar (يستطيع ويضطر) without mixing up the letters ت, ط and ض ..

One of the most innovative solutions, was the Yamli approach:

Yamli is simply a search engine, that allows the user to type in Arabic text to search for without having an Arabic Keyboard – they call that the “Smart Arabic Keyboard”. The idea was originated by the end of 2007, when a couple of folks needed to search Google and were stuck as the laptop didn’t have an Arabic keyboard.

It doesn’t end at the Arabic search. Check out the Yamli Editor, a simple web-based editor with their Smart Arabic Keyboard – Just type in your text, then copy-paste it anywhere you wish. You could even incorporate their Smart Keyboard into your website, or add their Facebook Application to help you in your comments, wall-to-wall posts and messages.

So, where’s the catch? I’ll tell you – it’s all online!

Let’s say you want a similar service, locally on your PC or Laptop? I suggest you try 3arabik.


3arabik is a keyboard layout, that maps your English letters to Arabic ones; so you just press the keys in English, and it will type in the Arabic letter for it – just like Franco Arabic. Meaning ا is “A”, ب is “B”, ت is “T” and so on ..

Just to imagine, let’s say you want to type my last name for instance, “Shaker”, you need to press “s” and it will type س, “h” transforming it to ش, then “a”, “k” and “r” for ا, ك and ر – giving you شاكر.

It’s for free. The website has the installation instructions, and the keyboard mappings (if you don’t get it by intuition already). A friend of mine just sent me the link last week. It’s great honestly, but I’m till not used to it yet coz my Franco Arab is perfect as in reflecting correct pronunciation. So I always write “Shaker” wrong coz I press “e” by mistake. However, you’ll get used to it sooner or later ..

I also loved their Flash loader .. loool

Top Image: from the ilovetypography blog


Written by AlaaShaker

March 14, 2009 at 10:08 pm

Posted in Technology

Tagged with , ,

6 Responses

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  1. and this makes me feel even more sorry for you guys as a touch-typist on both English & Arabic :p


    March 15, 2009 at 3:28 am

  2. nice 😀 .. i LIKE the flash intro too 😀
    about 3arabik i don’t think its the best idea .. cuz keyboard layouts are mapped so that the most used latters are right under your fingers (the middle row (ASDF.. ))

    so the remapping will make you move your fingers across the keyboard more often .. so u will get tired from writing arabic ..

    well its the same for Yamli too .. so will see only with trial 😀

    Mohammed Fouad

    March 16, 2009 at 7:45 am

  3. Metal: It’s really sad, yeah .. I’m weeping now, do u see me? lol

    Fouad: I agree. Also, I still can’t get used to it yet as I said above – so, I still for Yamli .. lol
    Anyway, I’m getting better in Arabic already. I believe practicing on the keyboard is the best solution, slow and tiring though.
    My question to you is: Do you really think that your opinion that’s based on keyboard-UX and ergonomics, would “dramatically” increase the number of keystrokes you have to type? I believe that the millions of millions of keystrokes and “moving your fingers across the keyboard” won’t hurt YOU much, normal users yeah .. loool 😛
    Esp. if you’re a copy-paste fan like myself (A)


    March 16, 2009 at 4:24 pm

  4. hmmmm, I’ve posted a link like two days ago, seems it was not submitted properly!


    March 19, 2009 at 2:41 am

  5. >> I believe practicing on the keyboard is the best solution, slow and tiring though.

    There is a typing speed test I take every once in a while just for fun; just found out that it supports will definitely help you out..
    “Every time you try to beat the score, you improve your typing speed :)”

    Achieving a progress through it is neither slow nor tiring, give it a shot!

    Here you go:

    btw, you can stop weeping now :p


    March 19, 2009 at 3:09 am

  6. what are some of the disadvantages of the franco-arabic language ?? ( need some evidence too )


    October 19, 2010 at 5:23 pm

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