Wael Saad is a Melbourne based senior software developer. Wael was born in Shoubra, Cairo and has been living in Melbourne for the last 23 years. Wael’s reflections on his own identity and background led him to use own skills to create Coptic Notes. Wael has written this piece for the ACM website to share his story on the most advanced Coptic writing system for the iPhone and iPad which he created. Let us all encourage Wael to continue with this great project by following his recommendations.
The Coptic Language is last stage of the written Egyptian language. Coptic is part of our history, it defines us and who we are today.
There are 2 main reasons why I created the Coptic Notes App. The first was that I wanted to learn a new programming language to develop for the iOS mobile platform but more importantly the second reason was that I wanted to do something for the Coptic community around the world especially for the Coptic martyrs in Egypt who were martyred before, during and after the Egypt revolutions.
I have also come to realize that this language was stolen from me and from the Egyptian race.
Today millions of Copts around the world use the Coptic language, some teach it but only about 300 Coptic speakers.
The idea to help reviving the Coptic language digitally came to me about a year and half ago and like many of you I was born to learn about the Coptic language but unable speak it like others do, yet Coptic is something that is extremely important to our heritage and to our Coptic history, I immediately contacted Apple and sent feedback explaining how important it is to support the Coptic language in their iOS operating systems. Apple didn’t respond!
I decided to create an App to do just that and share it with the Coptic community hoping that some may find it useful also this would be my response back to Apple a year and half later.
The App has taken over a year and half of part-time development as I have a full-time job using different programming technologies and I occasionally have a life as well.
I didn’t really tell anyone about this project until it was released because I honestly didn’t know if I was going to be able to finish it or not, there were times when I was pretty depressed because of how long the development took. The App also took a long time because I am a bit of a perfectionist and I wanted to do something an Apple team would come up with and so there were many late and early nights.
The Coptic Notes app features an almost replica and a re-write of the Apple‘s operating system keyboard only to support the Coptic language. Coptic Notes also features the same functionalities that exist in Apple’s notes app. It was developed with the same quality as other Apple apps.
Apple is extremely strict about Apps created by developers and Coptic Notes was under an extended review so I am just thankful to GOD that they have accepted it from the first time without any issues.
The app is free and does not have ads because there is a cause behind it, also I am not a fan of charging for apps that have a sentimental value to its users.
Android Version of the App
Many have asked me about the Android version of the App and why I chose to target iOS instead. The fact is that I love the Android operating system but in order to get the right user experience for this kind of App it had to be developed once for iOS, once for Android and once for Windows. You can imagine how long this might take. I am not sure when an Android version will be available or when it will begin development.
Limitations and your Help
Imagine reading and writing in Coptic inside any mobile App without the Coptic Notes App.
At the moment Coptic speakers / users around the world are communicating in Facebook and other apps using Coptic by pasting the Coptic text as images because the Coptic text characters are not recognized by the mobile devices iOS or Android.
The biggest challenge that we currently have as mobile users is that Apple iOS and Google Android Operating systems don’t support Coptic as a language or have support for the Coptic Unicode characters which already exists as documented and defined here:
Coptic – Unicode Consortium
This means when a user is inside any App such as Facebook, Twitter or Email, the user will not be able to read any Coptic characters or the user will instead get to see a combination of Greek and Coptic characters which is not correct.
I have just raised the issue with Apple and in the process of addressing it as a bug / limitation for their platform as requested by Apple but I don’t know how far this might go without your support by simply downloading the App on your iPhone and iPad devices and getting as many users to like the Facebook App page.
I would like to think just about every Copt who values the Coptic language can help just with that simple request. If this issue is resolved users may not need The Coptic Notes App anymore which is great because it means we achieved our goal which is to get Apple / Google to recognize Coptic as a language in their operating system.
At the moment in order to read the Coptic text that was sent using the Coptic Notes App inside another App like Facebook, Twitter or Email, the user will need to download a font I created called Jinkim.ttf which is based on CS Avva Shenouda.ttf. The user will only be able to read the Coptic text on their Mac / PC.
The app is not perfect but just the first step, it was developed without consulting experts in the matter and I didn’t know enough about the Coptic language.
What needs to be improved?
• The keyboard layout might slightly change
• Introducing other fonts to make the text clearer
• Other enhancements
Your feedback will be important when the time comes, this is why if you would like to share your input or be informed about future updates you need to like the Coptic Notes Facebook page.
If you have not already downloaded the app please head to the App store and visit the Facebook page for more details:
As of right now Coptic Notes has been downloaded over 338 times from around the world since the announcement 2 weeks ago.
Download the App
Learn more on the Coptic Language here:
Feel free to send me any comments or suggestions in Arabic or English,
Arabic is my first language.