posted on Tue, Feb 19 '19 under tag: code

Adding Malayalam language support to Lyx. Adding any language to lyx.

“LyX is a document processor that encourages an approach to writing based on the structure of your documents (WYSIWYM) and not simply their appearance (WYSIWYG).” - Lyx homepage

Lyx is commonly used as a GUI frontend for TeX


Lyx interface is translated to many languages, but this is not what I mean by Malayalam support.

Lyx does not have Malayalam listed as a language to be used in documents at all. This can be seen in various language settings, for example “Document -> Document Settings -> Language -> Language”.

This means, there is no way to tell Lyx that a particular document is in Malayalam, uses unicode characters in Malayalam’s block, requires Malayalm hyphenation, etc. When Lyx does not know it, neither can the underlying TeX system know it.

The fix

Fixing the issue is simple. Someone has to add support in the code, and send a patch. Lyx page on How To Use Git gives details on the workflow.

But what about the patch? I did some preliminary investigation on where the list of languages is pulled up from using ack Hindi inside /usr/share/lyx folder. Turns out there is a file called languages. It is in the lib folder in the source code.

By using git bisect I figured out that Hindi was introduced in commit 1aa5a0d. This approach can be used to find out how other languages were added as well.

To really add support one might have to send a corresponding patch on polyglossia or babel unless they already support Malayalam. But I’m half sure they already support Malayalam.

I have offered help in the Swathanthra Malayalam Computing telegram group to anyone who wants to work on this. If you are reading this and you’re interested, feel free to ping me.

Update on 21/2/19

Joice went ahead and sent a patch to lyx-devel. But it was pointed out that new language requires a version change. And when version changes, there needs to be a few convertor functions written like it can be seen in the commit that introduced languages like Kannada.

He updated patch for that as well

Update on 11/3/19

The patch has been committed and available in lyx 2.4.0. I have written a how-to article on get it working

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