Lao language script in CommCare data

Hi folks!

I will be implementing a CommCare activity in Laos.

With regards to display on the smartphone itself, we have succeeded in
putting lao text into form questions and answers… and the text appears
readable on the smartphones to be used by health workers. So that’s good.

However, regarding the working of text input that is typed into a few
text fields in our form, I have some questions.

I have installed a couple of Lao language keyboards on our phones, and then
ran our CommCare app, and typed Lao text into our commcare form.

  • The keyboard places lao text into the form OK.
  • And later in commcare, when that entered text was outputted back onto
    some subsequent commcare form screens, the Lao font text appeared OK.
  • However, when I do a Forms Export, in the CSV on my computer, those
    fields that had Lao text in them turn into garbled text, for example " ທ.
    ອຸດອນ ສຸພາວັນ".

… I admit that I am still learning which Lao fonts are needed on the
computer I’m reading here.

However, my questions about this kind of script and font management are:

– do you believe that, assuming that the receiving computer has the
adequate fonts, this Lao text should always come through onto my computer
and appear in the correct Lao characters?

– Is there some other aspect of CommCare configuration I should watch to
make sure that it can come through?

– Are there any other fonts-and-commcare principles that I should observe?
For example, something about Unicode fonts… OpenType… any rules that I
should follow?

Thanks!
Eric

Hi Eric,

I’d use Unicode font everywhere (PC + android). If you want to check
font support in your devices, this page (just discovered it by looking
at your issue) is probably going to be my fav page ever soon :

It gives an image + rendered font for many Asian alphabets. Definitely
going to add that to the wiki when I’m back at the office.

Regards,

great link, thanks… one more resource to help with this large, patchwork
issue…

I have installed unicode Lao fonts on my computer, and various lao
keyboards on my Android phone… and the Lao text looks OK when I view it
on CommCare HQ reports in the browser… but when I export the forms, the
text is still garbage, and applying fonts to the text doesn’t cause it to
turn into Lao…

– I’m curious for any experiences or suspicions of where I’ve gone wrong

··· --

– OR, is it possible that there is no way to get Lao text that is entered
into CommCare app to export out as Lao text in the resulting excel/CSV on a
computer, that no such combination exists?

thanks! -Eric

Wait – ignore the above… Please disregard my questions above for now,
I have made some progress. I was foolishly limiting myself to CSV outputs.
Wasn’t thinking clearly this morning. When I use Excel outputs it is more
promising now. I’ll bother you all when any additional snags occur…

Thanks!
Eric

Hey Eric,

If you’re using CSV outputs (which we’ve found is better for Excel outputs
for handling dates), you can try re-encode the file at UTF-8. I typically
download my CSV file then use notepad software (like Notepad++) and use the
encoding menu to re-encode the file at UTF8. I then save it and re-open
with Excel which works better.

··· On Tue, Mar 31, 2015 at 1:36 AM, Eric Stephan wrote:

Wait – ignore the above… Please disregard my questions above for now,
I have made some progress. I was foolishly limiting myself to CSV outputs.
Wasn’t thinking clearly this morning. When I use Excel outputs it is more
promising now. I’ll bother you all when any additional snags occur…

Thanks!
Eric


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Sheel Shah
Project Manager | Dimagi
m: +1.781.428.5419 | skype: sheel_shah

Hey! Cool! This info about switching to UTF-8 really opened my eyes. It is
a complex world we live in. I really appreciate that note.

– And, frankly, it feels exciting that even “plain text” inside a CSV can
display lao script… as opposed to it appearing inside word or excel,
which seems “less robust” because it somehow feels that it could be the app
that is applying some font or process after the fact, where the “plain
text” feels like it’s closer to system basics.

– Also, I was a little surprised to see that when I made that UTF-8
adjustment, then Lao text even appears ok when the file is opened on a
computer that I did NOT install the lao fonts on! I guess at least a basic
Lao alphabet is built natively into Windows 7? Hmm…

Thanks much, we will see if my font experiences create more questions later

··· --

Eric