fraktur letterspacing, ligatures

Date: Sat Aug 14 2010 - 21:00:10 CDT

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    I have recently added some smart font technology to a fraktur font. It
    was thanks to information I found in this list's archive that I was
    able to do this. The font distinguishes required ligatures from other
    ligatures. The required ligatures are the ones that behave like a
    single letter when letterspacing is increased (ch, ck, ſt, tz) – the
    other ligatures are the ones that break up into normal sequences of
    letters when letterspacing is increased (for instance "fi" or "tt"

    I have done some testing (see
      ). The good news is that I found one browser that distinguishes
    these two types of ligatures: Firefox (3.6) on Mac OS X (10.5).
    However, the majority of browsers does not display any ligatures at
    all. I was especially surprised that Safari failed to display any
    ligatures even though the font uses AAT. I would have thought that
    Apple's native browser would use AAT, Apple's native smart font
    technology. Appearently it doesn't. Firefox on Mac OS X interprets
    both AAT and OpenType ligatures. I wonder why Firefox is so
    significantly ahead of other browsers in this respect.

    For the cases where there must be no ligatures, I have resorted to the
    ZWNJ. I have seen other fonts that use highly complex OpenType
    conditions in order to automatize this (for instance Peter Wiegel's
    font Schwaben Alt UNZ1A:
      ). These conditions really parse the words in order to find out
    where inhibit ligatures. I doubt that a OpenType conditions are the
    appropriate place for this. I wonder whether a hyphenation machine
    would be more appropriate. A hyphenation machine already disposes of a
    means of parsing words. So ideally – and hypothetically speaking –,
    a single machine could not only fulfill the task of finding potential
    hyphen slots, but also of inhibiting ligatures – instead of having
    two separate, but very similar machines.


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