Every day I have been slowly chipping off on fixing and improving things on the new SikhNet site. It was a big change technically and also for users as well, so it has been keeping me way too busy!
One of the techy things that I am excited about is having a better way to display Gurbani text online without a user having to download a Gurbani/Punjabi font. Might not be very interesting for most of you, but anyone who deals with a website and posting Gurbani online will know that this can be a major issue since it can be confusing and hard for many to have to install a font. You would hope that you could just view a page and not have to do anything right? Well, this solution I have found is pretty close to that.
I found a cool system that enables you to use the adobe flash player (which most people have on their computer) to display any font on a web page without having the font installed. Dynamic fonts using Microsoft Weft was one method that we have used on SikhNet for many years, but only works with Internet Explorer. This leaves out all the Mac users and people who use FireFox, Safari, Opera and various other web browsers.
This new method I found called sIFR works in any browser that supports flash. So as long as they have flash installed it should display Gurmukhi text. This method combined with Microsoft dynamic fonts covers most every browser/user! Only a small number of people would not see the Gurbani text if: They didn’t use IE and didn’t have flash player.
You can use this font display method with just about any font too, not just Gurmukhi fonts! So, while this might be a bit techy and un-interesting to many of you, it is a great discovery for me and will make reading Gurbani much easier for many! Hopefully other Sikh websites use these methods to make it easier for web visitors to view Gurbani.
The first page we implemented this font display method is the new Daily Hukamanama Page. It might be a small thing for some….but It has been a technical hurdle that I have been looking to overcome for MANY MANY years, and this is one big step in the right direction. I had hoped that Punjabi Unicode would be to solution for displaying Gurbani universally, however it doesn’t display Gurbani accurately and was designed to display modern Punjabi (not Gurbmukhi). Hopefully in the future we’ll have an even better way.