Re: Font Technology Standards

From: C J Fynn (
Date: Tue Mar 02 2004 - 19:59:11 EST

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    PostScript Type1, CFF, TrueType, OpenType are "standards" in the sense that
    they are font formats widely used and supported on multiple platforms. They are
    proprietary in as much as certain companies control the specifications - but
    these specifications are publicly available and there is nothing to stop anyone
    producing fonts in these formats, tools to make them, and software which uses

    [ The only thing there has been any real controversy or concern about are three
    Apple patents relating to grid fitting glyph outlines of TrueType fonts (see: ) - and, as it says there "It's important
    to understand that the patents do not prevent anyone from reading, converting
    or generating TrueType fonts. As they only concern the subtle art of hinting
    TrueType glyphs, it's even possible to legally display text with TrueType
    fonts, as long as the patented techniques aren't used to optimise the bitmaps
    at small pixel sizes." Also AFAIK Apple have never threatned anyone with
    enforcement of these patents. ]

    There are other font formats out there - Apple's AAT, SIL's Graphite, Knuth's
    Metafont, Bitstream's Speedo, Adobe's Glyph Bitmap Distribution format (BDF)
    etc, etc. You should be able to find plenty of information if you search

    For rendering Unicode for complex scripts - OpenType seems to be the about the
    closest thing there is to a de-facto "standard" right now. It has the features
    neccessary for rendering complex scripts and is supported on MS Windows and
    several other platforms. There are other altenatives some of which are
    discussed at
    For simple scripts, where there is a straightforward one-to-one mapping between
    characters and glyphs and no contextual variation of glyph forms etc, plain
    TrueType fonts do nicely.

    Although the SVG font specification may come from a standards body [W3C] afaik
    SVG fonts are only of any use if you want to embed the font definitions in an
    SVG file where the font is used. There doesn't seem to be anything that
    actually makes use of them in any other kind of document.

    - Chris

    CJ Fynn
    ----- Original Message ----- 
    From: "Mete Kural" <>
    To: <>
    Sent: Tuesday, March 02, 2004 2:41 PM
    Subject: Font Technology Standards
    > Hello All,
    > I have a question. What are the font technology standards are there? I know
    about these font technologies but I don't know how "standard" or how
    "proprietary" they are.
    > Postscript
    > TrueType
    > OpenType
    > I have also read about "SVG Fonts" and since that is defined by W3C this is
    surely a real "standard". Are SVG Fonts the only non-proprietary font
    technology standard out there?
    > Please share with me your insight.
    > Thanks,
    > Mete

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