This major undertaking for assessing the status of Ethiopic software has so far accomplished modest tasks and has laid the ground work for the continuation of other aspects of the project.
The survey has shown that there are number of Ethiopic software available on the market that meet the requirements of Ethiopic script users for database management, word-processing, type- setting, local networking, modem and disk operating system needs. Personal computer users on both DOS or Macintosh platforms have now an opportunity to use Ethiopic software. The potential user has also a good choice among the software in terms of affordability. While some are distributed free-of-charge for non-governmental organizations (ngo's), a number of them have discounts for educational institutions.
Even though, the effort of Ethiopic software development has often been driven by passion for the Ethiopian languages and the potential users and occasionally by the limited market for such a product, the final product is an impressive collection of Ethiopic software with a good variety of application. Current trend observed during the survey indicates that there is every reason to believe that the development, upgrading and expansion of Ethiopic software will keep up with the over-all global trend in hardware and information technology.
At this stage, there is a common agreement on the positive effect that the introduction of Ethiopic software has on the Ethiopian work-force and the expansion of creative literature in Ethiopian languages. However, the following recommendations could be made to increase the frontiers that Ethiopic software developers should explore to keep up with the ever-growing advances in information technology.
o The survey has indicated that there is a gap on the application of Ethiopic software on multi- user systems like main frame computers and workstations. This gap becomes more apparent while trying to send and receive electronic mails in Ethiopian languages over the international networks such as USENET, BITNET and INTERNET. With a good prospect of Ethiopian educational and research institutes joining computer-based global information exchange networks in sight, the urgency to address this issue becomes more pressing. The extremely limited market for such a product on a multi-user environment, at least for now, might discourage progress in this direction. But the very availability of such software will undoubtedly contribute positively towards enabling Ethiopic script users to exchange documents and electronic mail over local and global networks.
o There has been a growing awareness and pressure from various groups to formulate an international set of codes, based on 16 bits (2-byte) representation for all the scripts of the world. Preliminary work is already under way for the new international "unicode" under the sponsorship of the International Standards Organization (ISO). The Ethiopic script has already been included in the proposal. A formal discussion on the accurate representation of the Ethiopic characters hasn't been pursued so far, however. All Ethiopic software developers are encouraged to pursue this goal, since the impact it will have on the future of software development is quite significant.
As per the recommendations made by the committee that carried out this survey and the discussions carried out on the Ethiopian computer network, Cleo, another technical committee called CSES (Committee for Standardization of Ethiopian Scripts) and headed by Abass Alamnehe has started its task of ensuing a formal discussion on the subject and presenting its conclusions for ISO's considerations. The technical committee comprises of software engineers, Ethiopian language and culture experts and a telecommunication expert among whom Professor Getachew Haile of St. John's University in Minnesota and Ato Tereffe Ras-Work of the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) based in Geneva are prominent members. The committee hopes to present its recommendations in July 1993.
o The second part of the 80's and the early 90's have witnessed the promotion of 'open systems' by major software companies who would like to see increased usage of inter-operable application and utility software. In most cases, documents written using any of the major word-processing packages could be read by the other software. A similar inter-operability and portability has to be addressed in Ethiopic software. As the user pool for Ethiopic software increases, the need for such products will undoubtedly increase.
o In the subsequent stages of this project, input from Ethiopic software users in terms of the additional areas they would like to see application programs developed will be included.
1. "Ethiopian Computer News", Published by Public Relations Department of Dashen Engineering Co. Summer 1992.
2. "TSIMA- Yetetekami Memeriya", National Computer Center, Ethiopian Science and Technology Commission, May 1989.
3. "Agafari- Yetetekami Memeriya", National Computer Center, Ethiopian Science and Technology Commission, May 1989.
4. Mr. Lloyd Anderson, Ecological Linguistics Institute, telephone and written correspondence, October 1992.
5. Abass Alamenehe, electronic mail (e-mail) correspondence, March 1992.
6. Yitna Firdyiwek, electronic mail (e-mail) correspondence, March 1992.
The questionnaire that was distributed to Ethiopic software developers for the purse of collecting data for the survey is enclosed here.
Company name, address and telephone/fax number: _________________________________
Software name and version: ___________________________________________________
in Ethiopia _______________________________________________
in US $ __________________________________________________
in Eth. Birr _______________________________________________
1. Software type:
________ operating system/environment (including networking)
2. Operating environment needed for application software:
________ DOS 3.30 and later
________ Windows version 3.0, 3.1
________ OS/2 ver 1.3, 2.0
3. Application software type:
________ word-processing/desk top publishing
________ integrated (word-processor, spreadsheets, database, graphics)
________ accounting/project management
4. Hardware requirement/compatibility
a) computer system
_________ IBM PC and compatibles
_________ XT and AT
_________ Macs (Classic, SE, II)
_________ NeXT workstation
_________ Sun workstation
_________ main frame
b) memory (recommended for PC systems)
_________ conventional (640 kB)
_________ 2 MB RAM
_________ 4 MB RAM
c) hard disk space for installation
_________ less than 500 kB
_________ less than 1 MB
_________ less than 3 MB
_________ more than 3 MB
d) display mode (recommended for PC systems)
_________ other (specify)
e) software-specific hardware
_________ special hardware required (specify)
_________ mouse compatible
6. Printer/plotter drives available
_________ dot-matrix printers (list some printers below):
_________ laser printers (list some printers below):
_________ plotters (list some plotters below):
7. Network support
__________ network version available
8. Supports available
_________ documentation and manuals
_________ on-line help (telephone)
_________ updates and software fixes
_________ courses, training sessions, tutorials
_________ third party add-on libraries
_________ demo version
_________ other (specify)
9. Site license requirements:
_________ other (specify)
10. Please include other relevant technical information in the space below:
11. Brief company profile: ___________________________________________________
12. Areas of future software development work releases and plan: