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

> From what I know about Limbu, complex shaping requirements are
> minimal and text can be read almost as easily without them.

I am glad to hear that.

> As regards Kharosthi [...]  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,

No, the effect is greater.  This is not just about the writing
direction, but consonants and vowels won’t get connected

> 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.

That is correct.  A chicken‐and‐egg problem, since as long as
there isn’t a font, people won’t feel motivated to add the
rendering code either.  Though from what I hear on the Pango
development list, the Indic script code that they have is actually
fairly generic, and needs only minor tweaking for adding new Indic
fonts.  Then again, things may be complicated by the right‐to‐left
writing direction of Kharoṣṭhī.  That will be for the programmers
to sort out, which I am not, so I concentrate on the encoding and
font side.

> 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.

Neither do I, but here is a page


that says hPhags‐pa (like Tibetan, from which it is derived) uses
medial vowel signs (which aren’t illustrated on that page).  The
encoding of Tibetan (and therefore presumably hPhags‐pa) is
handled differently from the standard Indian model in Unicode.

> But if you are using it in a scholarly document otherwise
> writtten in English, the Kharosthi should still be perfectly
> readable

Here I disagree.  Yes, scholarly applications is what we are
interested in, and there rendering needs to be _accurate_.  At
least as much as in a hypothetical newspaper.

> - it's in the wrong direction, yes, it uses an ugly control
> symbol where there should be conjunct consonants,

For a scholarly publication, those are major and unacceptable
points right there.  Add to that the fact that vowels would not be
correctly connected with their bases.

Also, this is not just for palaeographic discussions with the
occasional letter in Kharoṣṭhī.  For that we would not have needed
an encoding the first places, but could just have inserted a few
images.  Rather, think of whole new applications that make actual
use of the computer‐encoded form of the Kharoṣṭhī material, like
comprehensive palaeographic databases.  Have a look at:


> 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.

First and foremost, let me stress that your development of those
glyph shapes is _highly_ appreciated.  It really makes us happy to
see that people outside our small circle start getting interested
in the Kharoṣṭhī script, now that it is included in Unicode.

So now we have actually quite a number of glyph shapes in
different styles.  Not only yours, the letter illustrations that
Andrew uses throughout his MA thesis (that he sent you a link to)
are also outlines in TrueType format.  The next step forward will
now be to develop a set of OpenType rules, and maybe we can even
agree on common glyph naming schemes and such, so that we can
easily share those OpenType rules between our fonts and yours.
That would be great.

> And I will repeat, this does _not_ impact multiple scripts.

Even if none of the other scripts in your font need complex
rendering rules, there is still the fontconfig issue.  Definitely
not your fault, but fontconfig’s.  But since fontconfig is the
basis for font matching in Debian, and since this is about making
a package for Debian, the problem has to be addressed and worked
around until (hopefully) fontconfig becomes smart enough to look
beyond the glyphs and recognise which fonts also have combining

> I am well aware of the shortcomings of my Burmese font, and I
> have already told Paul Wise.

Actually, your Burmese font per se looks great, and many thanks
for producing that and making it available under the GPL!  The
spacing problem seems to lie on the side of the rendering engine,
and apparently, as Paul says, the Freetype people are looking into

All best wishes,

Stefan Baums
Asian Languages and Literature
University of Washington

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