[bksvol-discuss] Fwd: [Nfbnet-master-list] Announcing NFBTRANS and WinBT 2.0 - a free, open source Windows braille translator

  • From: Chela Robles <cdrobles693@xxxxxxxxx>
  • To: bksvol-discuss <bksvol-discuss@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • Date: Thu, 28 Jul 2011 13:31:52 -0700

---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: Steve Jacobson <steve.jacobson@xxxxxxxx>
Date: Thu, 28 Jul 2011 11:07:15 -0500
Subject: [Nfbnet-master-list] Announcing NFBTRANS and WinBT 2.0 - a
free, open source  Windows braille translator
To: nfbnet-master-list@xxxxxxxxxx

With help from a number of people, we have extended the life of
NFBTRANS and the WINTRANS interface that
allowed one to translate files into contracted braille from
Windows.  The old version would no longer run on Windows
7 64-bit computers, but this new version does.  As many of you
already know, NFBTRANS allows one to place
formatting commands into plain text files to create reasonably good
contracted braille.  It does not directly handle
HTML, DAISY or Microsoft word files as do the commercially available
translators, and as does John Boyer's
LIBLOUIS project and as his Braille Blaster project will.  However,
this software can provide an alternative that can fill
in the gaps with a little work.

Jamal Mazrui has assisted in creating a better installation procedure
and has pulled together some documentation.
Below is his note along with a number of links to documentation and
other resources for those who feel they wish to
make changes to the program.  However, if you are interested in just
downloading the updated version, you can find it


A zip archive containing the same files is available at

This is open source software and is not officially supported by the
National federation of the blind or any other
individual.  Still, there are number of people on these lists who can
try to answer questions.

If you are interested in learning more about the more ambitious
Braille Blaster project led by John Boyer, check out


This project has the potential of producing braille directly from
Microsoft Word, XML and DAISY files and is capable of
doing so now if one has a little technical know how.

Best regards,

Steve Jacobson

==================BEGIN FORWARDED MESSAGE==================
Date: Sun, 24 Jul 2011 20:33:39 -0400
From: Jamal Mazrui <empower@xxxxxxxxx>
Subject: Announcing WinBT 2.0 - a free, open source Windows braille translator

Now available at

WinBT 2.0 is an updated distribution of the NFBTrans braille translator
(BT), and the associated WinTrans graphical user interface (GUI).  The
original programmers are no longer active in the project, and the
WinTrans-bt.org web site is discontinued.  Maintenance of NFBTrans has
been led by Steve Jacobson as Vice President of the NFB in Computer
Science.  He recruited additional programmers, and improved the default
configuration settings of NFBTrans.

The original author of WinTrans chose not to reveal his or her identity,
using the name "Anonymous John" instead.  Since several years had
elapsed since then (2003), we tried to find the author in case he or she
now wished to be publicly acknowledged.  Ultimately, we found him via
Tom Dimeo, who had introduced WinTrans to the world in a podcast of the
Main Menu program by ACB Radio (an audio tutorial included in this
distribution).  The two of them communicated about this new effort, and
George McCoy has now authorized us to disclose that he is the one who
authored WinTrans.

Recent discussion about improving NFBTrans has occurred on the email
list called "ProgrammingBlind," to which one can subscribe through the
web site

The NFBTrans code was ported and recompiled by Tyler Littlefield, using
Microsoft Visual C++ 2008, a free Express Edition of which is available at

The new build resulted in a 32-bit rather than 16-bit executable, thus
allowing it to run under 64-bit Windows, which, unlike prior Windows
versions, does not run 16-bit programs.  The Visual Studio solution
file, NFBTrans.sln, contains compiler configuration information that
allows a developer to easily recompile the C code.  Anyone who finds
ways of improving the code,  configuration settings, or documentation is
encouraged to contribute such improvements back to the community.

The WinTrans source code, WinTrans.bas, was recompiled by Jamal Mazrui
using PowerBASIC 10.0, a commercial compiler available at

He also improved the WinTrans installer using Inno Setup 5, which is
freely available at

The script file, wbtsetup.iss, gives InnoSetup instructions for building
the installer, wbtsetup.exe.  It creates a desktop shortcut for
launching the WinBT dialog, with an optional hotkey assignment,
Alt+Control+B (for braille translator).  The installer also creates a
WinBT program group in the Windows Start/Programs menu with options for
launching the program, reading the documentation, playing an audio
tutorial, or uninstalling the program.  By default, the documentation is
opened at the end of the installation process, and the audio tutorial
may optionally be played then as well.    The program may also be
launched by entering "WinBT" in the Windows Start/Run dialog
(capitalization does not matter).

The original distribution files for NFBTrans and WinTrans, nfbtr774.zip
and winbt.zip (renamed from winbt.exe), are included in the WinBT
program directory.  Also included there is the first public release of
the WinTrans 1.0 source code in the PowerBASIC language, contained in
WinTrans.zip.  By default, the program directory is located at

The WinBT installer, wbtsetup.exe, may be downloaded at

A zip archive containing the same files is available at

This documentation is also available online at

The updated distribution can give a new life to WinTrans and NFBTrans.
The installer makes the braille translator friendly to install, use, and
learn.  The documentation gives developers information about recompiling
the source code, thus opening a possible path to improvements
contributed by the open source community.  The original WinTrans and
NFBTrans archives are also included, so that anyone can start from there
instead if preferred.

WinBT 2.0 has resulted from constructive collaboration among various
parties for the common good of blind people.  Although imperfections
undoubtedly remain, there is clear progress that is worth sharing.  We
hope these contributions extend the value of NFBTrans and related
technologies to users of electronic braille!

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  • » [bksvol-discuss] Fwd: [Nfbnet-master-list] Announcing NFBTRANS and WinBT 2.0 - a free, open source Windows braille translator - Chela Robles