Ms. Dineesha Ediriweera is at present a Senior System Engineer at Associated Newspapers of Ceylon Ltd. (ANCL). She has a B.Sc. and a M.Sc. in Computer Science and Engineering, both from the University of Moratuwa, Sri Lanka. She is also a Corporate Member of the Institute of Engineers of Sri Lanka (IESL) and a Corporate Member of the Computer Society of Sri Lanka (CSSL).
Ms. Ediriweera designed and developed software for the classified advertisement system and the digital advertisement system of ANCL. She also designed and developed software for the Sinhala Collation Algorithm for the classified advertisement system and the Sinhala Hyphenation Module for the Editorial System. She has developed software for conversion from non-Unicode to Unicode and proprietary to open systems. She also developed the rules for the ANCL Unicode font Dinamina under the guidance of Mr. Anura Tissera. This font was subsequently handed over to ICTA to be used freely.
Ms. Dineesha Ediriweera has been an active member of the Local Languages Working Group (LLWG) of the ICT Agency of Sri Lanka (ICTA) for the past 8 years. Ms. Ediriweera in developed the rules of the ICTA Unicode compliant Sinhala font Bhashitha and completed it with the glyphs which were designed by Mr. Pemasiri. The font was named “Bhashitha” as suggested by Ms. Ediriweera. This aesthetically correct Sinhala font Bhashitha was developed at three levels and each level comprised a font family with serif and sans serif fonts with bold and regular for each font. Mozilla Firefox requested this font and a lighter version, BhashithaScreen, was therefore released to Mozilla Firefox. Ms. Ediriweera also applied the font rules for the font Hodipotha which was developed for ICTA and was meant for teaching small children.
Ms. Dineesha Ediriweera states that Sinhala has a wonderful structure in the roots of words and in the forms of grammar and she intends to analyze the structures to make these available for localization software.
Video in Brief
Ms. Dineesha Ediriweera is at present a Senior System Engineer at Associated Newspapers of Ceylon Ltd. (ANCL). It was in the mid-1980s that Ms. Dineesha Ediriweera was selected to the Department of Computer Science and Engineering at the University of Moratuwa. Ms. Ediriweera states that she had not even seen a computer at the time she entered the University but this was how she entered the ICT arena. At the University, she had to carry out a group project “Multi level memory simulation” in which she was involved in designing and coding. This had been written in the C language and this project had given her confidence in software engineering.
When Ms. Dineesha Ediriweera graduated there was no vibrant software industry in the country. She joined Associated Newspapers of Ceylon Ltd (ANCL) known as “Lakehouse”, as an Electronics Engineer. ANCL publishes newspapers in Sinhala, Tamil and English and for this purpose there was a typesetting network. The main task at the time had been maintenance and troubleshooting. Later, there had been a trend towards Open Systems and the time had come for changing the machinery. The new machinery had to support Open Systems. The working of the production floor had to be replaced with a parallel run. Therefore, the transition had taken place gradually. During this transition period Ms. Ediriweera was involved in coding conversions from proprietary systems to Open Systems. Not only did ANCL change the backend but the frontend, i.e. the typesetting system too was changed. At this point ANCL obtained a Sinhala keyboard driver and several Sinhala fonts, all of which were proprietary. When the transition was completed, the next task had been to replace the proprietary classified advertisement system and Ms. Ediriweera’s task had been to develop a system for replacement.
This system had to be capable of handling classified advertisements in Sinhala, Tamil and English. These advertisements were first sorted in accordance to the classification code. Thereafter, within the classification code they were sorted in accordance to the collation sequence. There was no issue in sorting advertisements in English. But sorting the Sinhala classified advertisements had not been easy. The collation sequence that ANCL had used was almost the same as the Sinhala Collation Sequence that was standardized later by the Sri Lanka Standards Institution as Part 1 of the Sri Lanka Sinhala Character Code for Information Interchange, SLS 1134 : 2004. The Unicode compliant font Dinamina was developed by ANCL and handed over to ICTA to be used freely. This font had an impact on the use of ICT in Sinhala. Ms. Ediriweera states that Mr. Anura Tissera who was her Senior Office at ANCL had given her opportunities and guidance throughout.
Mr. Tissera was a member of the Local Languages Working Group (LLWG) at the ICT Agency of Sri Lanka (ICTA) and before that he had been a member of the Fonts Committee of the Council for Information Technology (CINTEC) which was ICTA’s predecessor. These groups worked on developing the Sinhala ICT Standard SLS 1134 : 2004 and SLS 1134 : 2011. The latter standard contained encoding for Sinhala numerals. LLWG also developed the Sri Lanka Tamil Character Code for Information Interchange, SLS 1326 : 2008.
The LLWG worked on developing Unicode compatible Sinhala fonts which totally revolutionized the use of ICT in Sinhala. This development enabled searching and sorting in Sinhala and using Sinhala in the same way in which English is used. In the early 2000s Microsoft had introduced a Sinhala Unicode font “Potha” which was an earlier version of the popular Microsoft font “Iskoola Potha”.
Using the font Potha, it was possible to type Sinhala combined characters but it did not support all the conjunct characters. ICTA’s LLWG decided that a font which supports all the existing Sinhala characters should be developed.
Specifically, LLWG wanted to develop a Sinhala font which was compliant with the standard SLS 1134 : 2004 and through which the full complement of characters facilitated in the standard SLS 1134 : 2004 could be used. Another requirement was to enable old Sinhala and Pali (written in Sinhala script) books and content to be written. This meant that the font should be a Level 3 font as defined in the SLS Standard. ICTA contracted with Ms. Ediriweera in developing the rules of this font and completing it with the glyphs which were designed by Mr. Pemasiri. The font was named “Bhashitha” as suggested by Ms. Ediriweera. This aesthetically correct Sinhala font Bhashitha was developed at three levels and each level comprised a font family with serif and sans serif fonts with bold and regular for each font. ICTA gives this font Bhashitha freely for use under the license Creative Commons Attribution. Mozilla Firefox requested this font and a lighter version BhashithaScreen was therefore released to Mozilla Firefox. Ms. Ediriweera also applied the font rules for the font Hodipotha. ICTA was getting this font Hodipotha developed for the National Education Commission to be used in books meant for little children in Grades 1 and 2. Ms. Ediriweera also participated as a resource person in the training for font developers which ICTA organized and was held at the University of Colombo School of Computing. Ms. Dineesha Ediriweera has been a member of the Local Languages Working Group for 8 years. This intensive drive towards converting to Unicode compatibility has yielded results as seen by the numerous Sinhala websites and blogs which are presently available.
Developing software for localization has been Ms. Dineesha Ediriweera’s passion. Therefore, her research for a M.Sc. degree is also in this area of localization. The research which was carried out under the guidance of Prof. Gihan Dias, was on improving the output of Sinhala Optical Character Recognition by applying post processing techniques. Ms. Dineesha Ediriweera states that Sinhala has a wonderful structure in the roots of words and in the forms of grammar and she intends to analyze the structures to make these available for localization software.