Open Mind. Open Source.

Subin Siby

Subin Siby


Making a semantic dictionary from 2001 Pagemaker files using FOSS tools

Submitted Jan 25, 2024

Adobe Pagemaker 7 is a proprietary software that was deprecated in 2004 by Adobe. Yet it is used by thousands and thousands of DTP centres across India. New documents even in 2024 is getting created using this 20+ years old defunct software.

Njatyela Shreedharan is a 85 year old person from Kannur, Kerala who compiled a 4-way Malayalam, Kannada, Tamil, Telugu dictionary in the course of 25 years which is a very unique one of a kind dictionary. His story became a documentary “Dreaming of Words” and won the National Film Award for Best Educational/Motivational/Instructional Film (2020)

This unique dictionary need to be made accessible freely over the internet, open archive style. And not just limit it to a book. The book was created in Adobe Pagemaker 7. We were able to contact him and get these Pagemaker files.

I watched the documentary and was instantly inspired. It motivated me to take on the work of making that pagemaker file into a semantic dictionary website.

This talk will be about:

  • How the dictionary was converted to Unicode semantically using FOSS tools in Malayalam built over 20 years ago
  • The clever hacks used for the conversion, HTML + PHP + jQuery
  • How the dictionary was made into a searchable website:
  • The problems of proprietary file formats
  • This talk will give the audience quick hacking tools that one can use to cleverly sovle problems like this


{{ gettext('Login to leave a comment') }}

{{ gettext('Post a comment…') }}
{{ gettext('New comment') }}
{{ formTitle }}

{{ errorMsg }}

{{ gettext('No comments posted yet') }}

Hosted by

We are a Free and Open Source Software community at National Institute of Technology Calicut, Kerala