Zobel - Riding the Web
into the Next Millinnium


Zobel is the latest software of the Ge'ez Frontiers Foundation (GFF) that is now bringing you Ethiopic web pages with your favorite fonts under the Ethiopia Online domain. Zobel is not just a new version of our old software -it is a completely new software from the ground up.

Zobel itself works as a server for the LiveGe'ez Remote Processing Protocol (LGRPP) which allows us to give you Ethiopic web pages not just on our computer but also on your computer. That's right, to use Zobel software you don't even have to install it. Publishing your web pages with Zobel is just a matter of linking to the pages.

Who is Riding Zobel?

Four organizations have already expressed interest in applying Zobel to bring their web visitors Amharic and Tigrigna web pages in most every font system in use on the Internet. Zobel is used by default at Ethiopia Online at such web sites as The Ethiopian News Headlines, Tobia and the Geja Kale Heywet Church. Organizations outside of Ethiopia Online using Zobel are:

The GFF is available to help your organization start publishing online with Zobel today. Just contact us at GFF@EthiopiaOnline.Net

Why LiveGe'ez?

The LiveGe'ez Remote Processing Protocol grew out of the need to better organize and formalize the way Ethiopic web services worked at Ethiopia Online. The specification was expanded to allow for the remote processing of web documents by other organizations.

While the Ge'ez Frontiers Foundation's software that runs the Ethiopic services under Ethiopia Online has always been freely available we've found some obstacles to using it have been:

  1. The software has to be compiled, configured and installed for the architecture and operating system of the web host.

  2. The organization must have permission to install the software and software libraries at the host site.

The LGRPP has been proposed to alleviate the issues related to the software use. With access to a LiveGe'ez server; no software need be installed or periodically upgraded and no architecture or operating system conflicts can occur.

The LGRPP is intended to bring the power of our web publishing software to the masses. The LGRPP will remain in a draft status until June 30th. We invite your comments to enhance the protocol specification to ensure that all of the services you would request are supported.

What is the Status of Zobel?

Zobel is still an early technology and will be growing throughout '99. Zobel now implements the CGI services specified in the LGRPP. Development work will focus primarily on filling out the implementation of the HTML conversion services of the protocol. The initial versions of Zobel will convert only UTF7, UTF8 or SERA as input encoding. Moving away from this limitation to accepting any font system encoding as input is also a very high priority. The Zobel development status page can be found here.

Where Can I Get It?

The great thing about the Zobel server is that you already have it. There is nothing to install. However if you would like to run your own Zobel server you are most welcome to do so. The latest version of Zobel, LibEth, and the Perl Ethiopic package can be found here first, ftp://ftp.ethiopic.org/pub/libeth/, and will appear at CPAN archives (under "authors/id/D/DY/DYACOB") within a few days of new releases.

Why the Name "Zobel"?

Zobel was the legendary horse of King Fasiliadas. Zobel was legendary for his speed, agility and intelligence. Zobel's top speed was never certain, he would run as fast as he felt the king wanted him to go. King Fasil is said to have described Zobel as "...unlike any horse born before him. When he races I become unaware of his motion, of any motion, I feel we are frozen and the world is turning below us." Zobel served King Fasil loyally and some go as far as to credit the king's companion with the foundation of modern day Ethiopia. The name "Gondar" in fact means "by the side of" referring to by the side of Zobel, where King Fasil would sleep on their many journeys.

Likewise our Zobel is an Internet server that we hope will help the modern day foundation of Ethiopia in cyberspace.

Chie Ferresie! Chie!

Zobel can actually perform a lot of services and different ways of outputting web pages. We will be offering advanced options to the font menus at Ethiopia Online shortly. We are also in the process of preparing basic and advanced publishing manuals and possibly a Zobel FAQ pending user feedback. A basic Zobel web publishing tutorial is here.