Sunday, March 02, 2008

Hebrew Texts on Notebook SmartBoard and Flash Macromedia

Several years have passed since 2 Israelis (a Jew and an Arab) launched an online petition (“Flash, The Right To”) to make software developers aware of the lack of support for Semitic languages and of the difficulties it raises, when it comes to the usage of Hebrew or Arabic with software such as Flash Macromedia and Notebook SmartBoard.
Although the petition got some attention, the message was not fully assimilated. We continue to face the same technical hitches, including seeing gibberish when transferring Hebrew texts from one application to another.

Like most Hebraic users of Notebook SmartBoard and Flash Macromedia with the SmartBoard, I have tried different techniques. For instance, I attempted to type Hebrew words backwards or to copy and paste texts as pictures, to figure out with which method I feel most at ease. Nevertheless, these techniques remain artisanal in nature and most appropriate for light assignments.

For the heavier work of transferring Hebrew texts, such as Biblical verses or even chapters, working with Rich Text Format is most effective. There is no need to remove the nekudot (vowels), which will be transferred correctly. For best results, it is advisable to adjust the font points and the line width prior to the transfer. A complete RTF Bible can be downloaded from our Pedagogical Center (see link below), in addition to other tools. + (Click on “Limudei Kodesh & Hebrew”. Download:, or

As a user of a variety of Hebrew sources for SmartBoard and Macromedia, several converters that reconfigure the pasted gibberish Hebrew into proper Hebrew text, are available too. They are worth trying to see which one works best for each user and purpose.
Hafuch Al Hafuch (To download the converter, click: )

The Bilbulon (by EcoSoft Team is appropriate for paragraphs containing both Hebrew and English) (to download, click:

R4F - "Right" for Flash (A shareware converter. To download, click: )

For an application that flips gibberish Hebrew texts, copied from the Internet, check out HebFlip at: (or download at: )

To deal with gibberish Hebrew online, check out HEBTML converter at:

To fix gibberish Hebrew in emails, go to Hebrew Encoding Translator at:

In case one wishes to transfer Hebrew texts from PowerPoint, Notebook SmartBoard directly imports PowerPoint presentations and displays the Hebrew fonts correctly, without requiring a converter.
(After opening Notebook, click on “Open”, find the appropriate PowerPoint file and click OK.)

The market potential of Semitic Languages users is growing. The day software developers put forward full support for their products seems not faraway.


Elky Langer said...

Thank you for all these sources. I will definitely check them out!

I recently spent some time working with Smart tech support on the Hebrew language support (or lack of) in Notebook. This is apparently a real "hot button" issue, and they are definitely interested in resolving it.

Several bugs that they are aware of:
1. Punctuation is Hebrew text throws the formatting completely off and often flips the text.
2. Flash notebook tools do not support Hebrew text--either cut and paste or direct typing.

I demonstrated the difference between pasting as Hebrew text (which requires hebrew language support turned on, which has its own set of issues) and pasting as English, which requires specific fonts and unfortunately show up as gibberish for those who don't have those fonts.

Hebrew is working for me now (though somewhat imperfectly), but the inability to share due to the font issues does disturb me. I'll have to see if your tools can resolve some of these issues ... perhaps as an attachment to the Notebook file, with a note stating what to do is the user sees gibberish instead of Hebrew text. Something to think about!

Elky Langer said...

Your download links are giving me errors. Are the files uploaded yet?

Also, can you clarify what you mean by "flip"? I tried one of the online tools but it didn't seem to do anything. I pasted in text that works in Hebrew fonts only but looks like gibberish when pasted into an English program. Is that was these tools are designed to address? Or am I misunderstanding their purpose?