Why is the reading Sinhala problem still there

Long time ago I wrote a blog about how to write in Sinhala which I have deleted thinking that it’s not that important in today’s context. Still even today many ask me the same question. Why do I see these squares instead of the fonts.

Is it because still the majority is not educated properly? Or is it because we do not force enough the OS provides to give us what we want? Something is wrong somewhere. There are many bloggers who use Sinhala still they can reach only the people who has Sinhala support which I feel not the exact way to get this done. I have seen that they carry the information about adding Sinhala support which is a must if a reader is to come to their website. But I feel that there is a lot to be done than what the community and the government has been doing so far.

I decided to dig a bit more. http://www.siyabas.lk/ is the official site to get Sinhala support. I visited this website to check how it would affect a novice user. Oh! it’s completely in Sinhala Unicode, so the novice user will definitely get shocked. you come to find the solution to a certain problem but the problem is also with the answer. There are two buttons which says ‘get sinhala’ ‘get tamil’ which is unnoticeable by the normal user in the most cases. It seems like the site is chasing people away. As a web developer I am quite sure that there are ways to identify whether the users have sinhala capability through the browser(JavaScript), if not at least to use cookies to track if this is the first time the user is coming and to show an image pop-up with the instructions. How nice that would have been?

To resolve this issue most of the bloggers have directed the users directly the information page which looks like a development done by an amateur who has no understanding about the user experience. Ah! users still get the square shock at the beginning.

Then the information in the page. How the information is ordered. Starts with Linux then goes to pre Windows XP (Windows 98/2K/Me) then XP and Vista. Ubuntu 9.04 was released then 9.10, 10.04 is coming in another 18 days. where is the installation instructions for these? then there’s another link to http://sinhala.sourceforge.net/ for more information, actually which has the correct information for Linux, which has very few squares that shock the user, simple and loads fast.

Where is Windows 7 instructions and what about the Windows XP Service Pack 3? there’s another link for that oh! dear. By what I have experienced the Service Pack 3 installer works with the Service Pack 2 and Service Pack 2 is coming to its end very soon(July 13, 2010). Why not have the option as Windows XP and direct the users to use one of the service packs.

Computer Science, IT and ICT students, this is an example for bad User Interface Engineering, Design and which confuses and makes the users lost with links.I have no answer as to why such an important site was allowed to be designed and developed by an amateur.

Here is my simplified version if you are still confused:

Windows XP users

Windows Vista (Should work on Windows 7 also – I have not used windows 7 so far)

Pre Windows XP (Windows 95/98/2000/NT/Me)

  • Click the following link to download the installer: http://www.siyabas.lk/files/SinhalaIE1.0.exe
  • You are required to have Microsoft Internet Explorer 6 or higher and need to set the following form the Internet Explorer: View -> Encoding -> Unicode (UTF-8)

Linux (Ubuntu/Fedora/Debian)

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