Background:Personal computers appeared in the early 1980’s. At that time, our founder, Lama Tony Duff, who had been a Tibetan translator for many years and who, as a monk in the Tibetan Buddhist tradition, had acquired a deep knowledge of Tibetan calligraphy, became interested in using personal computers. He wanted both to preserve the literature of the Tibetan Buddhist tradition (which at the time was very fragile after the desecration of Tibet by Communist China) and to make computing tools for Westerners that would enhance their studies. He was especially interested in developing tools for translators to aid their work of translating Tibetan Buddhist literature into their various languages.
A Summary of the Software we have Developed:
Fonts for all platforms:These days fonts are taken for granted given that really fine fonts are delivered with operating systems like Windows and OSX. However, without fonts, there is no language work, and there were no Tibetan computer fonts available in the early 1980’s, so Lama Tony started the work of supporting Tibetan Buddhism with computers by developing Tibetan computer fonts. It is not commonly known but Lama Tony is also a master calligrapher (see the example here of a calligraphy he did for a French couple). It is not surprising then that the fonts he developed became widely known as the very best in the world. This is well-known within Tibetan culture, where the highest ranking people—both Karmapas, Situ Rinpoche, Dilgo Khyentse, Rabjam Rinpoche, many great teachers in Tibet who are not known in the West, Beru Khyentse, Dzongsar Khyentse, and many others, too, have investigated for themselves and declared to their own people as well as to their Westerners disciples that it is the case. Some of them have called Lama Tony, ”The father of Tibetan electronic publishing” because of the unmatched authenticity of the fonts that he produced as well as his tireless efforts to make the software tools needed by Tibetans and non-Tibetans alike.
Our Tibetan fonts are available in unicoded Opentype format. These fonts will work correctly on Windows from Windows XP onwards and on Macintosh OSX from 10.6 onwards. We do not have Tibetan fonts for other platforms, such as Android.
Our Tibetan fonts are also made available in Truetype fonts in the unicoding that we worked out especially for Tibetan. These are known as "TCC" (Tibetan Computer Company) fonts. They are used by our software TibetDoc and TibetD Reader because they do not have the severe faults that come with unicode-type fonts. However, please note that our software allows import and export of unicode Tibetan.
A WordProcessor:Once the fonts have been developed, the software can be developed. First, Tony developed a Tibetan wordprocessor for use in the DOS operating system. This was later turned into the current wordprocessor for Windows, called TibetDoc. It has the specific feature that it is, to the best of our knowledge, the only Tibetan wordprocessor that fully supports Tibetan text and all of the classical rules for formatting that text. Two programmers from the USA who worked with Tony on early versions of TibetDoc stole the TibetDoc code and made it available with some changes under different names. However, the programmers involved had no knowledge at all of Tibetan language, let alone its formatting rules, and the software that they made available simply does not measure up to TibetDoc. Even products like Word and WordPad on Windows and the various editors available on OSX do not correctly format Tibetan text. TibetDoc is the only wordprocessing program available that correctly formats text, provides perfect pecha-making for traditional Tibetan publishing, and has all the other features like spelling checkers and so on, that work according to the rules of the Tibetan language.
Because of the popularity of TibetDoc, we frequently receive enquiries asking whether there is or will be a TibetDoc for the Macintosh. The answer is that there are no plans for one at the moment. However, there is a way to use TibetDoc on Macintosh OSX and also on Linux-based computers. It is done with Windows emulation. More about that below.
A Tibetan Reader, like Adobe Acrobat for Tibetan:Next we developed a software for Windows called TibetD Reader. It’s purpose is to provide a single reader for all of our dictionaries, reference works, and texts. You can think of it as a sort of Adobe Acrobat specially made for working with the Tibetan language. This Windows software is very powerful and has many tools programmed into it that make it useful to students studying Tibetan Buddhism and especially useful to translators and scholars. We made it free—you can download it from this site—for two reasons. Firstly, it gives the means needed to use all of our free dictionaries, reference works, and Tibetan texts. Secondly, it means that others can purchase TibetDoc software, then make and publish their own Tibetan texts with it, knowing that anyone will be able to read the documents they publish. Again, it becomes like an Adobe Acrobat reader which allows anyone to read documents published by others, but one that specializes in working with Tibetan text.
Do we have TibetD Reader for platforms other than Windows? Yes, we have TibetD Reader for Macintosh OSX and Apple iOS platforms. These readers are not given away free, like the Windows version, but are delivered with the dictionaries for Macintosh OSX and iOS.
Some people then point out that we have made a huge collection of essential Tibetan Buddhist texts, reference works, and dictionaries available on this site, most of it for free, but that they are using a Macintosh computer and cannot access the material with either the free TibetD Reader for Windows nor with the less capable reader made for Mac OSX. That is true though that might change in the future.
Is there any way, they ask, that they can have access to all of this material? Yes, there is. The way to do it is to install a Windows emulator then use the Windows version of the Reader in that. All of our Windows software runs perfectly on OSX if you install a Windows emulator such as Parallels or VMWare. We have seen this done several times and are impressed with the results. Because of the very tight integration that exists between Windows and OSX when these emulators are used, you can run Windows in a Window as you work in OSX. You then have full access to everything that we have created for the Windows world, and you can copy and paste from the Windows software (and vice-versa) into the OSX environment. We have used this system and find it to work extremely well. We need to say that some Mac users we know have been horrified at the thought of doing this. However, this is just discursive thought; many of our more open-minded Mac users have done this and found that it works extremely well. We have set it up and used it ourselves and can report that it is not difficult to do and does work very well indeed. Best of all, it makes the content we provide fully accessible within OSX.
The use of an emulator is also the way that TibetDoc can be successfully used on a Macintosh. Again, a number of our Macintosh-using customers have used this method to gain access to the capabilities of TibetDoc and have been pleased with it. Thus, for those who seek TibetDoc and our high quality fonts for use on the Macintosh, it is very easy to have; simply purchase our fonts which will install directly into OSX as well as Windows, and then use our TibetDoc for Windows in an emulator on the Macintosh.
There is no doubt that we would like to wave a magic wand and suddenly have software like the very powerful software that we have developed for Windows immediately available for the Macintosh OSX and other platforms. However, the reality is that it does not happen that way. It takes a great deal of time, effort, and money to write that kind of software and we do not have those resources at the moment.
Special Features for Students, Translators, Scholars:Lama Tony has been closely involved with Tibetan translation for many decades at this point. He is often surprised, he says, when he meets people who are using his software but who are unaware of the extraordinary tools available in it for doing serious translation work and scholastic studies. There is the capacity to highlight Tibetan words by clicking on them and then immediately look up those words in a dictionary. This can even be done when in a dictionary already, giving the capacity while translating or studying to look up several dictionaries on the fly.
Moreover, there is a special search function in the software that allows searching a whole library of dictionaries, reference works, and Tibetan texts. When used properly, it can uncover Tibetan definitions of words or phrases that are not available in current Tibetan-English dictionaries. It can also show how words and phrases are used in native Tibetan texts, allowing the translator or scholar to come to a new level of understanding of the words and phrases. It can also uncover information that simply might not be findable otherwise, for example, the sources of a quotation and so on.
One of the features of the many Tibetan texts that we have made available through this site is that each one or each set has been chosen specifically to make a particular, and important, facet of Tibetan literature available. By doing so, the library of Tibetan Buddhist literature we provide is an excellent basis for all kinds of translation work and studies. For example, the massive encyclopaedia of Indian and Tibetan thought written by Jamgon Kongtrul the Great is available in toto; this contains endless quotations from an enormous array of works, with explanations, making it an invaluable resource. And that is only one of many such items we have made available for use in the library.
A True Cross-platform Dictionary:To try to get around the limitations of computers and their operating systems and to provide as much functionality for as many people as possible, we have made an on-line version of our flagship Tibetan-English dictionary, the Illuminator. This has been designed so that it works equally well on all computers and operating systems that can access the internet. It also works equally well on all mobile phones and tablet computers that have an internet browser. Moreover, it has been designed so that it will work equally well on the smaller screen of a mobile phone and the larger screen of a tablet or personal computer.
Software for iOS Devices:In our further efforts to get around limitations and to provide for as many as possible, we have developed TibetD Reader software specifically for the iOS platform. It works with iPhone, iPod with touch, and iPad. All of our dictionaries are available for the iOS platform.
Software for Linux, Android, and other Operating Systems:We do not have software for Linux, Android, or other operating systems. For Linux, the answer is to use Windows software running in emulation. For Android and Windows RT and other operating systems there is only one option: purchase an subscription to the Illuminator on-line dictionary mentioned above. That will work perfectly in the internet browser of all devices.
The Ugly Truth—Stealing Harms You and Us:Finally, a word about piracy. Our wordprocessor, TibetDoc, and our flagship dictionary, The Illuminator, have been heavily pirated. This is mostly done by aspiring Tibetan Buddhists who believe that their status as a “poor student” means that they can and should steal our software. We also know of a Tibetan language teacher at a major college in Dharamshala who tells his Western students, in class, that they should pirate our software!! We have met students of his, face to face, who refused to our faces to pay for the software because their Tibetan teacher had told them it was alright to steal it!!
Please understand that we give away large amounts of software and make a very large number of Tibetan texts available for free. However, some of our products are for sale. When you use our products without paying for them, you are stealing. That will affect you negatively at some point in the future. The results of karmic mis-deeds are inevitable! Of all people, students of Tibetan Buddhism should understand that. As to the teachers who are encouraging their students to steal from us, well, what are they thinking?
The fact is that the full-time staff of Padma Karpo Translation Committee depends on the sales of these software packages and fonts for their livelihood. When you pirate our software or encourage others to do so, you are stealing from us. And when you steal from us, you are literally taking food out of the mouths of the dedicated staff of the committee. If you want more free texts, and more dictionaries and so forth running on more platforms, then please purchase what needs to be purchased so that we have the funds needed to do that development work.
If you are using our pirated software, please go to the appropriate page on this site and purchase the software now!