History of Sinhala software

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Sinhala language software for computers have been present since the late 1980s [1] (Samanala written in C) but no standard character representation system was put in place which resulted in proprietary character representation systems and fonts. In the wake of this CINTEC (Computer and Information Technology Council of Sri Lanka) introduced Sinhala within the UNICODE (16‑bit character technology) standard.

Timeline[edit]

1985 — CINTEC establishes a committee for the use of Sinhala & Tamil in Computer Technology.[2]

1st generation of software products[edit]

1987 — "DOS WordPerfect" Reverend Gangodavila Soma Thera, who was the chief incumbent at the Springvale Buddhist temple in Melbourne, Australia asked the Lay members of the temple to produce a Monthly Newsletter for the temple in Sinhala, called "Bodu Puwath". A lay person named Jayantha de Silva developed two HP PCL Sinhala fonts called Lihil and an intelligent Phonetic keyboard that was able to select letters based on context, together with a printer driver and screen fonts. All this was possible because the utilities to create the keyboard and printer driver were supplied with WordPerfect. It was easy to use and was installed in many PCs owned by lay members and in the temple PC for typing articles. The program fell into disuse after Windows came online in 1990 as it did not support the WordPerfect macro keyboard.

1988 — "Super77" First trilingual word processor (DOS based) initially developed at "Super Bits Computer Systems" katunayake and further improved up to the commercial level at IFS kandy (by Mr. Rohan Manamudali & Sampath Godamunne, under Prof. Cyril Ponnamperuma). Later it was named as "THIBUS Trilingual Software System" (Windows based).

1989 — “WadanTharuwa” (means WordStar in Sinhala) developed by the University of Colombo. It was one of the first commercial Sinhala word processing software products. (Gives inspiration to a new generation of developers to pursue further innovation in this field.) [3]

1995 — Sarasavi, also developed by the University of Colombo is a new version of WadanTharuwa, the first Trilingual software of its kind.

1994/1996 — Samanala Transliteration Scheme developed by Prasad Dharmasena. First ever Sinhala-English transliteration scheme of its kind. Signals a new era of Sinhala language solutions.

1995/96 — Thibus for Windows developed by Science Land (Pvt) Ltd. The most successful commercial software. Also includes the first Sinhala/English/Tamil dictionary and word by word translation technology.

1997 — Helewadana for Windows developed by Microimage (Pvt) Ltd and Harsha Punasinghe. The most notable competition to Thibus during that time. Provides almost every functionality provided in Thibus.

2nd generation[edit]

1992 — True Type Font Set KANDY jointly developed by Niranjan Meegammana and Micheal Gruber as part of project work (German Sri Lankan Co-Operation programme, 1988–1996) to use Sinhala Language in digital navigation charts.

1995 — Niranjan Meegammana continuing his work introduced New Kandy and several other windows fonts with Sinhala Word, one of the first Sinhala and Tamil word processors.

1996 — Sri Lanka CD, A Sinhala Encyclopedia like CD on Sri Lanka developed by Niranjan Meegammana using New Kandy fonts.

1997 — Lankdeepa and Virakesari News papers published online by Niranjan Meegammana using Kandy New and Jaffna fonts. Greatly appreciated by Sri Lankan world over as Sinhala Content and communications on internet started with this initiative by ISP Ceycom Global Communications Ltd.

1998 — Sinhala Word developed by Niranjan Meegamanna and becomes popular among the internet users and the font aKandyNew becomes the web standard font. The software supports both Phonetic and Wijesekara keyboards.

1998 — SLS1134/Unicode standards released by CINTEC for the first time.

2000 — Kaputa.com introduced by Niranjan meegammana at e fusion pvt ltd. using Kaputa true type font which superseded Kandy New on web content and email communications opened up a new era of Sinhala content with mass content published by kaputa.com.

2000 — Thibus and Helawadana release the new versions of their successful products. The new versions have the transliteration technology built in. (Very primitive stages of transliteration.)

2002 — Siyabasa sinhala typing software is released. The only one single program works with Windows 98 to Windows 7 by Dineth chathuranga.

2002 — Madura English-Sinhala Dictionary is released. The dictionary software is distributed as freeware; however its database is derived from Thibus allegedly without authorization and the author has been accused of violating the copyrights of Thibus.

2004 — Sinhala Text Box developed by Dasith Wijesiriwardena,[4] a light weight word processor which supports publishing web pages to the internet and supports almost all the existing Fonts and Keyboards. One of the major draw backs being the lack of support for Unicode. Wins best software awards at CSITTS (Peradeniya University) 2003 and in Digital Fusion (APIIT) 2004.

2004 — Tusitha Randunuge and Niranjan Meegammana at e fusion pvt ltd, released Kaputa dot com 2004 font with improved mapping for web content.

3rd generation (Unicode era) [5][edit]

2004 — Lanka Linux User Group (LKLUG) introduces Sinhala Unicode in Linux.

2004 — The Iskole potha Unicode fonts released by Microsoft.

2004 — Tusitha Randunuge and Nianjan Meegammana at Kaputa.com released Kaputa Unicode Fonts and Keyboard drivers.

2005 — Formation of Sinhala Unicode Committee standardized Sinhala Keyboards bringing in developers Thibus, Helawadana and e fusion Pvt ltd, Lakehouse, Government Printer, Colombo and Moratuwa Universities, ICTA and SLS policy makers.

2005 — Sinhala Unicode Group a community group founded by Nirnajan Meegammana, starts popularizing use of Sinhala Unicode and provides support and collaboration as a community initiative.[6] This active group helped solving many technical issues and impact taking Sinhala Unicode to masses.

2005http://www.gov.lk the fist Sinhala Unicode web site developed by Nirnajan Meegammana for Information and communication Technology Agency (ICTA) at efusion pvt ltd. Inspires the government of Sri Lanka to use Sinhala Unicode in online content.

2005 — Helewadana Nawayugaya a fully Unicode compatible software solution. Takes advantage of developments of Windows and Linux and the new SLS1134 standard. Also integrates its Helawadana ME for mobile devices.

2006 — Kaputa Uniwriter [7] a real time Sinhala Unicode Input System and a trainer introduced by Kaputa.com.

2006 — Shilpa Sayura — The fist Sinhala Unicode e learning system with content for national education developed by Nirnajan Meegammana with a grant form Information and communication Technology Agency to e fusion pvt ltd. Inspires rural telecentres to use Sinhala Unicode in education development. This project received several international awards for innovation of local language for rural education development.[8] (Shilpa Sayura used a java script based online Sinhala Input Method supporting Kaputa and Wijeysekara Keyboards.

2006 — Sinhala SP for Windows developed by Native Innovation (Pvt) Ltd is a more complete software solution to its predecessor Sinhala Text Box. Its developer (Dasith Wijesiriwardena) invents a new IME (Input Method Editor) technology by the name of “FutureSinhala” which acts as a bridge between the proprietary fonts/keyboards and the new Unicode/SLS1134 standard. It has another technology aka “Singlish” which takes full advantage of Sinhala-English transliteration. Considered the most complete and technically sound commercial software solution.

2007 — Sinhala Input Method Editor developed by SoftDevex (Pvt) Ltd that uses an exciting new input method for typing Sinhalese characters using conventional keyboard.

2007 — In order to provide the instructions on installation of Sinhala Unicode and provide the required software to the users, ICTA with the support of UCSC established www.fonts.lk. The servers and software for the site was provided free of charge by UCSC. ICTA developed 3 more websites in 2007 in order to extend the support provided by www.fonts.lk in local languages. While www.emadumilihal.lk provides information and software for using Tamil Unicode, www.locallanguages.lk provides information and software for using both Sinhala and Tamil Unicode.

2007 — Sri Lanka Official online language translator website launched on http://www.maduraonline.com by member of parliament Hon. Wimal Weerawansa.

2009 — Realtime Singlish (Another transliteration IME) was first released on April 13 of 2009 by Madura A., latest version is 2.0 (at time of editing). The first sinhala unicode which has a correct starting "TNW_Uni" has been developed by Thambaru Wijesekara.

2014 — A Mac OS X dictionary for Sinhalese is made available. Assembled by Bhagya Nirmaan Silva, the dictionary was created with the re-use of work done by Buddhika Siddhisena and Language Technology Research Laboratory of University of Colombo, School of Computing in 2008. [9]

External links[edit]

References[edit]