E-Sanvada and Sinhala UNICODE on OS X Leopard

I last blogged about Sinhala script support in OS X Leopard in April this year and didn’t have much hopes of seeing correctly rendered fonts when I checked out E-Sanvada, a (great new) website on developmental issues in Sinhala. I was very surprised to see this:

Perfectly rendered Sinhala. Click for larger image.
Perfectly rendered Sinhala. Click for larger image.

The Sinhala script on E-Sanvada is rendered perfectly. For reference, here’s how the Sinhala Wikipedia renders on my Mac,

Sinhala on Wikipedia. Click for larger image.
Sinhala on Wikipedia. Click for larger image.

And here’s another blog in Sinhala,

Malinda's Blog in Sinhala. Click for larger image.
Malinda's Blog in Sinhala. Click for larger image.

Notice the significant qualitative difference in font rendering. What the devil is E-Sanvada doing right that even Wikipedia isn’t?

Just to note that I do not have Nicholas Shank’s Sinhala font for OS X installed. I do have the University of Colombo’s Sarasavi font and a couple of UNICODE Sinhala fonts on my Mac. If Nokia can do it even on low-end phones, I wonder why no one has come up with a simple, easy way to enable good Sinhala UNICODE rendering on OS X?

UPDATE – 5th August 2008

Malinthe’s comment below points to one explanation as to why the rendering is so good on E-Sanvada. Malinthe’s own site renders perfectly on Safari.

Sinhala font rendering on Malinthe's blog
Sinhala font rendering on Malinthe's blog

12 thoughts on “E-Sanvada and Sinhala UNICODE on OS X Leopard

  1. The Sinhala Registered in the unicode consortium and on SLSI 1134 is incomplete Just the typewriter concept.

    Unless we correct the Sinhala with proper UTF values for all sinhala characters none of the operating system will be able to display the language correctly.

    Donald Gaminitillake
    I set the standard

  2. Dear Donald,

    My interest here is not with the shortcomings of Sinhala UNICODE as you see it.

    It is to understand why Sinhala renders perfectly on E-Sanvada and significantly less so on the other two sites noted. E-Sanvada is the first and only site to date I have read on my Mac that renders Sinhala perfectly. Clearly, they are doing something right, consciously or not, that the rest of us need to figure out.


  3. How come a computer render sinhala when the characters are not registered in SLSI 1134 or unicode Sir?

    What you see as parts are the set that is registered with SLSI 1134 or unicode. For it to see correctly you need additional software from 3 party because there are no UTF values to represent all the sinhala characters.

    Please understand.

    Other languages except the indic group do have all characters registered in unicode.


    See Latin script

    It has

    Basic Latin
    Latin -1
    Latin extended a,b,c,d etc etc

    Phonetic symbols

    Someone is trying to use phonetic symbols for Sinhala
    This is possible because it is registered with unicode consortium.

    Go through these charts and try to understand the reality of unicode.

    Quote from unicode
    Unicode provides a unique number for every character,

    We do not have a so called number for every sinhala character.

    My interest here is not with the shortcomings of Sinhala UNICODE’

    How came one render correctly across all platform when there are basic short comings in the SLSI 1134 and unicode sir

    Donald Gaminitillake
    I set the standard

  4. Dear Donald,

    I’ve seen the way in which you have taken over the debate on other sites and will not allow it on mine.

    You keep saying that there is something wrong with Sinhala UNICODE but looking at E-Sanvada on my Mac, there is simply nothing wrong with the rendering of any of the characters. Period. At the risk of repeating myself, I just wish to know how and why this is the case, when other sites with Sinhala UNICODE don’t render as accurately on OS X.

    If can give me an explanation to this specific question related to E-Sanvada, then please write in. Else, I’m sure you will find plenty of other web fora to continue your battle with those who disagree with you on Sinhala UNICODE.


  5. If you write your name in sinhala the “alnayanna” is not a character registered in unicode consortium.

    This is the problem.

    Accept the fact that to represent sinhala registered in the unicode you need to add a 3 party software.

    When you install X party additional software you will read correctly but this will not be read correctly with Y party’s additional software.

    All this is we do not have correct utf values for all sinhala characters. Different software guys gives different values for your “alnayanna” This is the problem. This is the short coming with the typewriter technology Sir.

    Donald Gaminitillake
    I Set the Standard

  6. Thank you Donald.

    However, on a Mac, I haven’t installed any 3rd party software and there’s no 3rd party software to install either to enable Sinhala UNICODE. My configuration is clearly noted in the last para of the post.

    And please stop calling me Sir!


  7. Quote
    easy way to enable good Sinhala UNICODE rendering

    Here you are asking a easy way!!!
    How do we key in umlaut U in apple
    Option U and U

    BUT umlaut U do have a single UTF value in unicode.

    unfortunately your “alnayanna” does not have a location in sinhala registered in unicode or SLSI 1134.

    Therefore you need additional software to render it.

    Why not call me?

    Donald Gaminitillake
    I set the standard

  8. I think I know why esanvada looks good. In it’s css file it uses malithi web as the font family.

    Like this:
    font-family:”Malithi Web”;

    I think it can be the reason. I did tell some guys about this fix when Firefox 2 did some funny stuff with Sinhala text.

  9. Malinthe,

    Thanks for that extremely helpful comment.

    I think you may be on to something here. Are you using the same font family in your blog? Of all the blogs on Sinhala I’ve checked out, yours is the best rendered one and is, on a cursory glance, as good as E-Sanvada on my Mac under Safari.

    Click here for screenshot on how it appears on my screen.


  10. Sanjana

    intel iMac OS 10.4.11 running on windows OS will give better sinhala than what you had shown on Safari
    But I have installed additional software to render from siyabus. IE ok but safari having problems.

    I have up loaded into youtube.


    Answer for two type of rendering of the same web page is incompleteness of sinhala in unicode registration.
    “pra” is not a registered character.

    Same way your image of wikipedea gives only the unicode registered characters in pure input form. The third party (Siyabasdotlk) software reads this and rerender for correct sinhala.It will not run on pure imac OSX but runs on windows simulation.

    This is the problem I am addressing. Incomplete Sinhala in unicode consortium and SLSI 1134. Therefore sinhala in not compatible across all platforms and across all applications incl Adobe products

    Donald Gaminitillake
    I set the standard

  11. I would recommend disabling (in Font Book or by removing from ~/Library/Fonts) all the Sinhala fonts you have except for my modified version of Malithi Web. The other fonts you’ve got were designed for Windows (technically, they are in the OpenType format) and the one I did was an AAT conversion. You should also turn off the preference in Font Book that enables fonts on request.

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