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Bug#306290: ITP: ttf-mph-2b-damase -- font with ranges from the latest version of unicode

On 09/05/05, Stefan Baums <baums@u.washington.edu> wrote:
> Dear Paul and Mark,
> > I'm not very familiar with OpenType/fonts, or editing them, so
> > I'd have to defer any changes to Mark.
> let me explain the problem a bit more.  In any program where you
> don't explicitly configure a separate font for every script under
> the sun, which means pretty much anything but Mozilla, including
> all GTK+ and Qt etc. programs, one main font is chosen (say,
> Bitstream Vera Sans), and whenever the program encounters a
> character (say Kharoṣṭhī) that is not covered by that main font,
> it asks the fontconfig library to find a font that does contain
> glyphs for that character, and then automatically gets them from
> there.
> The problem is that a) fontconfig does not know very much about
> the capabilities of fonts apart from what glyphs there are in
> there, and b) it prefers fonts with a broader script coverage
> (thus determined) over those with a more narrow coverage.  That
> means that on a system with
>    – Mark's Damase font (with glyphs for many scripts, but no
>      OpenType mechanism for Kharoṣṭhī, Limbu, hPhags‐pa etc.),
> and
>    – a to‐be‐developed specialised Kharoṣṭhī font (with glyphs for
>      only Kharoṣṭhī, but proper OpenType support)
> fontconfig, when asked to provide for Kharoṣṭhī, will prefer the
> Damase font over the specialised Kharoṣṭhī font, thus causing
> broken rendering for Kharoṣṭhī text even though a font for proper
> rendering would have been available.  (As far as Kharoṣṭhī is
> concerned, this is a bit theoretic at this point, since the
> specialised font does not exist yet, but may already affect Limbu
> etc. users.)

Limbu text isn't messed up in my font. True, there are no opentype
tables, but if you think that is actually as big a problem as it is
for Kharosthi, you are very wrong - I was actually /thanked/ by some
Limbu guy in Nepal for having the first Unicode font to support his
language, and on top of that he did not make any bug reports. From
what I know about Limbu, complex shaping requirements are minimal and
text can be read almost as easily without them.

As regards Kharosthi, although it may not display properly, I am
pretty sure that text in Kharosthi in my font is still readable,
although it definitely doesn't look good and is probably very
difficult and irritating to read.

I think it's similar to the way that many Chinese linguistics journals
write Mongolian script horizontally due to typographic limitations,
and nobody makes a big fuss.

In addition, if I did have the OT tables for Kharosthi, I don't
believe there is any support in _any_ OS for some of the complex
rendering nessecary for the language.

I'm also under the impression that the situation of hPhags-pa is
similar to that of Limbu, although I don't know much about the script.

> This has been discussed on the fontconfig mailing list, and
> somebody suggested that fontconfig should check for OpenType
> support, but it's not sure that that is going to happen.  At the
> same time, the usefulness of a non‐OpenType Kharoṣṭhī (Limbu,
> etc.) font for actual users (academic or native) is very limited,
> since all one can do with it really is typeset an alphabet table,
> but not any connected run of text.  That's why I suggested that
> removing Kharoṣṭhī, at least from the Debian package, may be the
> best thing to do at this point, pending potential future
> improvements in fontconfig that would mean that fonts with partial
> support can no longer negatively impact fonts with full support on
> the same system.

I highly disagree. If you are interested in publishing a newspaper in
the language, then you are indeed correct - it would not be

But if you are using it in a scholarly document otherwise writtten in
English, the Kharosthi should still be perfectly readable - it's in
the wrong direction, yes, it uses an ugly control symbol where there
should be conjunct consonants, yes, but for me at least English is
still readable when written backwards or upside down, and Arabic is
still readable when written using all isolated forms (although it is
irritating, after a while it becomes easier to read).

And regarding Limbu I must protest again: I'm pretty sure there are no
problems big enough with the current Limbu rendering that somebody
would not want to use it to print a newspaper.

> And of course this situation sucks, because it discourages
> enthusiastic developers who want to get started somewhere, but
> don't have the time or resources to go all the way with
> replacement tables and everything.  In our research project, at
> the moment we also use non‐OpenType Kharoṣṭhī fonts, with just the
> basic glyphs in the codepoints, and the composite glyphs in the
> PUA, and everything has to be handpicked.  But that's a
> specialised internal use, and having a font distributed as part of
> Debian is a different issue, especially if it impacts multiple
> scripts.  Sorry if all that sounds a bit negative.

"discourages enthusiastic developers who want to get started
somewhere" - if you really want, you are welcome to dismantle my font
and totally revamp it. I would like to know, but you don't have to
tell me, and you can even sell it for 300 bucks for a 1 computer

Are you saying that these enthusiastic developers would be less
discouraged if there were no Kharosthi support /at all/ in Debian? I
somehow doubt it - my font provides them with basic glyphshapes
already, which they would otherwise have to come up with on their own,
and all they have to come up with is opentype tables and a good name
for their font.

And I will repeat, this does _not_ impact multiple scripts.
> [I'll send you some remarks on Burmese in a separate email,
> outside this bug report.]

I am well aware of the shortcomings of my Burmese font, and I have
already told Paul Wise. It looks quite ugly in some situations, and
rendering isn't as good as I would've liked to make it. But it's
better than the rendering of Burmese by Code2000, and it doesn't have
to use font hacks like Myazedi.


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