RE: SVG Fonts - Is it the Font Standard of the future?

From: Edward H. Trager (
Date: Thu Mar 04 2004 - 11:21:24 EST

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    > I strongly doubt that any OS would want to support SVG fonts natively.
    > At best, they might choose to include a utility that would transform the
    > font into form more useful for itself. There are two major problems
    > with SVG fonts.
    > 1) Lack of hinting - Without the ability to hint, getting fonts to look
    > good at small sizes is extremely difficult. SVG fonts have no
    > hinting mechanism, altho in theory it wouldn't be too difficult to
    > add one.

    Isn't it the case that FreeType now intentionally avoids using the hinting
    information in font files to avoid patent infringement? Or is it that
    they use the hints, but simply aren't allowed to render them the way
    Apple does it?. While "autohinting" may not be easy to get right, it is
    computationally feasible, and I thought the FreeType developers were in
    fact working hard to solve this very problem ...

    In any case, once you reach age 40 and beyond, you don't want to
    look at small fonts on screen anyway! ;-)
    > 2) Lack of indexing - This is the far more serious problem with
    > SVG fonts and it simply cannot be fixed. For large font files,
    > if the glyph you want to match is the 3526th in the file for example,
    > then the processor has to read at least the 3525 glyphs that
    > precede it before it can get to glyph number 3526. Worse, the

    In theory, an OS could generate font index files to use with SVG
    fonts when they are installed. Generating an index file to use in
    conjunction with an SVG font file wouldn't be a big deal ...

    > Well, *lots* of things are *possible*, but that doesn't mean that they
    > are used. What are you suggesting? That an SVG font could be "installed"
    > on some platform e.g. Windows and that during the installation process
    > the platform will converting the SVG resource into a TTF? Or that it
    > will leave it as an SVG resource and add a native SVG rasterizer? I
    > don't know of any platform on which either of these is happening.

    I would not be very surprised if a group of people eventually decided to
    add SVG font file indexing and native SVG rasterization to
    FreeType at some point in the future. The ease of parsing XML
    and the unencumbered nature of a W3C standard might make
    something like that attractive to developers. People who are producing
    freely redistributable fonts, such as the SIL and the Free UCS Outline Font
    project might very much like using SVG as a primary file format...

    But I strongly suspect that the OS platform where this could happen would
    not be Windows or Mac ...

    > There goes absolutely any hope of this being *the* standard font format.

    Right. But exactly because it is a completely open standard based on XML,
    it could become a much more important standard in the future.

    > Have you considered the IP issues for SVG fonts? Currently, there is
    > absolutely nothing in the SVG font spec related to IP and security
    > issues. How many type designers are going to be excited about selling
    > SVG fonts when all it takes is a simple style sheet for someone to
    > extract that vendor's IP that happens to have gotten embedded in some
    > onine SVG content and convert it into a new font that they market as
    > their own?

    Right. But SVG fonts might appeal to the Open Source
    development community in many ways. SVG fonts could conceivably
    become an important standard on Linux.

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