Re: Custom fonts

From: John Hudson (
Date: Wed Mar 19 2003 - 12:47:59 EST

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    At 05:27 AM 3/19/2003, William Overington wrote:

    >Now my suggestion was the browser program which displays this file should be
    >able to look at the font information in the XML file, open the font file and
    >retrieve the names of all characters in it, so it can
    >show the "&hwesta;" character (and all other characters) without needing a
    >long list of ENTITY entries in the XML.

    You are presuming that all fonts contain name strings for glyphs. TrueType
    fonts with a format 3.0 post table do not. Of course, anyone hoping to take
    advantage of a system such as you propose would likely not use that format,
    but it is a mistake to assume the presence of glyph names in a font.

    More importantly, what you are proposing -- especially as interpreted by
    William Overington, below -- is a hack that goes against the driving
    principles of Unicode text processing and smart font technologies like

    >I am happy to do that, thinking that g_ct would be a suitable name for the
    >golden ligatures ct item.

    That name would be interpreted by Adobe's Acrobat glyph->character parser
    as a ligature of 'g' and some unknown entity called 'ct'. If you're going
    to give meaningful name to glyphs, I recommend you first learn the
    conventions that are in use by current software.

    But what do you achieve by using Pim's technique to insert your 'golden'
    (really fatuous name, by the way) ligatures into text? -- even supposing
    that any browser developer were inclined to implement such a technique,
    which they will not be. You render text unsearchable and unsortable; you
    make it impossible to copy and paste text from the page into another
    document in which you might want to set it in another font. Effectively,
    you've killed a document in the interests of making it look pretty.

    There are technologies that implement the Unicode Standard in a sensible
    way, that employ smart font technologies to format text in a sophisticated
    way without destroying the underlying text strings. Yes, it is true that
    current browsers only widely support such technologies for complex script
    rendering, but do you really think that browser makers are not going to
    continue to develop the technologies to which they are already committed,
    to achieve the kind of goals that you are interested in? Just because
    something has not been implemented on your computer doesn't mean it has not
    already been solved by software developers. We have a model that works for
    rich typography on top of Unicode text processing: it works in my page
    layout applications, it works in my image editing software, it will
    eventually work in my web browser.

    John Hudson

    Tiro Typeworks
    Vancouver, BC

    Anyone who has both children and house pets has
    surely noticed that the children exposed to language
    will develop language, in turn, whereas the house
    pets will not.
             - Stephen Pinker, on the nature/nurture debate

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