Re: Unicode fonts

From: Clark Cox (
Date: Tue May 02 2006 - 07:44:16 CST

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    On 4/21/06, Tommy Nordgren <> wrote:
    > On 22 apr 2006, at 01.11, Philippe Verdy wrote:
    > > From: "Tommy Nordgren" <>
    > >> Are there any fonts available that include glyphs for the entire
    > >> unicode character set?
    > >> (Macintosh compatible.)
    > >
    > > I think it's not possible for the existing TrueType/OpenType
    > > format, given the limitation on the total number of glyphs per font
    > > (but it may be possible with fonts which contain multiple designs).
    > >
    > > I see no interest in such giant font. At best, you'll find fonts
    > > that cover a whole Unicode plane (these fonts make better sense),
    > > and it will already be a very large font (notably a font that
    > > covers the Han ideographs, but it will be true as well for a font
    > > that would code the future Egyptian or Maya hieroglyphs).
    > >
    > > A font that completely covers the alphabetic scripts (including
    > > alphabets, abjads, abugidas) and syllabic scripts is already very
    > > large andvery complex to design, due to the number of
    > > substitutions, contextual forms, and fine hinting needed for
    > > drawing at small size or at low resolution on screen. And even this
    > > font needs constant updates to cover the additions in Unicode, or
    > > simply to correct bugs or limitations (missing substitutions or
    > > ligatures or contextual forms) or defects (bad hinting).
    > >
    > > Keep things small. What users do want is fonts that correctly and
    > > completely handle each script (letters, ligatures, digits) and
    > > related signs or symbols (notably punctuation, and notational
    > > marks). It's much easier to update fonts that cover correctly a
    > > limited set of scripts. And it's generally more reliable interms of
    > > results, given that some scripts require specific knowledge of the
    > > script by the typograph (notably the contextual forms, ligatures,
    > > and substitutions, but also the specific graphic design needed for
    > > some scripts that have very different metrics and layout, for
    > > example the hinting process for Han ideographs which requires
    > > specific algorithms due to their graphic complexity).
    > I realizes that such a font would require a lot of hard disk and ram
    > space.

    It's not an issue of hard disk space or RAM. It's simply that TrueType
    fonts cannot support that many glyphs.

    > The context in which i want to use it is for editing plain
    > unicode text files. Text editors can't display documents in multiple
    > fonts depending on which script each character belongs to.

    Since you mention that you're using a Mac, unless you're using an old
    OS (i.e. pre-OSX), pretty much any program that supports Unicode on
    the Mac will do this automatically. What editor are you using that
    this does not work?

    > To be specific I want to edit test cases for a lexical analyzer generator
    > that I want to be able to handle unicode.

    Clark S. Cox III
    My CV/Resume:

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