Why Bitstream Isn’t Cool

Folks continue to be baffled when they see leading newspapers like Anandabazar, Pratidin, Aajkaal are still using Bitstream on their websites. I discussed this on the Omicronlab forum sometime ago.

Well the reasons why Anandabazar continues to use Bitstream on their site are pretty lame. Here they go –

  1. If they used Unicode many people would not be able to view the text. But that is a very lame reason I tell you. If it was 5-6 years ago, it would have made some sense. People who are using the internet and reading news online are tech-savvy enough. A few instructions for Windows 2000/XP users will be enough. (I dont see 98 anywhere these days).
  2. They are ignorant. They don’t know Unicode is the universal way to display Bengali text. BBC Bengali (bbc.co.uk/bengali), Wikipedia (bn.wikipedia.org) are with the time and use Unicode on their site.
  3. They are lazy. Even if they understand that bitstream (that requires an installation) is cumbersome and Unicode is the standard, they are lazy to shift. Lazy to convert their archive to unicode and lazy to get rid of their current software setup.
  4. They are not serious. They are not taking the internet seriously. They are in no mood to spare a thought for website upgradation.

The Bitstream has many disadvantages, which I am sure the readers of these newspapers have faced.

  1. Only Windows supported, not Linux or Mac.
  2. Only Internet Explorer supported. Not Firefox, Chrome or Opera.
  3. An installation is required by the user!
  4. Obsolete technology.
  5. The text is useless. You cant copy it.
  6. The text can’t be indexed by search engines either.

It has one advantage though! For windows 98 users, this was a good way to see Bengali text on web. (Microsoft has phased out support for 98 long ago thereby sending it to the museum)

It is a pity that our leading newspapers are not using Unicode. But in the long run they will have to make the switch. Did I say long run? They must shift to Unicode immediately!

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"Why Bitstream Isn’t Cool" by @wishnipon



  1. Sir, There are ways you can read Bengali newspapers online. If you are using IE you can read it after installing the Bitstream Web Font player (can be done from the ABP site itself). On Firefox, install the incredibly helpful extension ‘Padma’ and you are all set.

    @Pranab: True! ABP’s ad tag goes – read ABP else you lag behind (পড়তে হয়, নইলে পিছিয়ে পড়তে হয়). But they are seriously lagging behind on the web front, clinging to obsolete non-compliant encoding! The Star Ananda website is in Unicode though! (that the site was last updated ages ago is another thing)!

  2. I think the major reason that are not moving to Unicode is that their complete internal workflow in non unicode based. And point 3-4 in your post basically says that.

    Their complete process from Reporters to Printers require age old technology, which is going to be painful to upgrade to Unicode. In this workflow showing news on the internet (for free) has very little importance.

    This line from colloquial bengali basically sums it up > cholchhe choluk i.e. don’t fix it until it breaks.