A blog about tech, travel and society

11 Dec 2009

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 (, Wikipedia ( 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!