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Re: [Groff] Musings on the adding of fonts

From: P. Alejandro Lopez-Valencia
Subject: Re: [Groff] Musings on the adding of fonts
Date: Tue, 26 Feb 2002 15:10:58 -0500

At 06:51 p.m. 26/02/2002 +0100, Sigfrid Lundberg, NetLab wrote:

2. Then I tried some TrueType fonts, and software (the freetype library,
pfaedit, autotrace and the like). Pfaedit is not even version 1 yet, but
still very useful. To get the font metrics for a truetype font is a piece
of cake. To get a type 1 font out of it is also OK. But where is the
kerning table? Any pointer to info on kerning and ttf would be much

The kerning table is not where you imagine... As it is an integral part of the font, you need a dedicated tool to get at it. The best procedure to obtain the needed AFM metrics file from a truetype font is to either use ttf2afm (part of the ttf2pk utilities set) or using ttftopt1, which you can find at Sourceforge. The latter tools will generate good Type 1 fonts (6.5-8 in a scale of 10) from the TTF files, including AFMs in the vector encoding of your choice.

Another experience: Obviously, ttf, the more modern technology, is capable
of handling 16 bit encodings.

The use of monolithic 16-bit fonts is overrated. If you have ever seen Arial Unicode, is is exactly 24.131.012 bytes in my Win32 system and it is *not* a complete Unicode 2.1 font. (Unicode has already released version 3.5 of the standard and Unicode 4 will be out pretty soon). As well, TrueType is highly overrated as a technology, unless you consider that superior is a technology that only five highly paid engineers in the world really understand and can use it properly (and I said engineers, not designers; the only great living type designer with a great technical background I am aware of is Charles Bigelow --- who holds a professorship at Stanford). That's why in general (and I mean 99.9%) of all fonts out there in TrueType format are pieces of bullknit.

As a matter of fact, and as a consequence of using OpenType technology as the core font engine, Windows XP doesn't use monolithic 16-bit unicode fonts, but rather TrueType collections, (TTC fonts) that appear as one single huge font but in reality are directory indexes for a bunch of small (perhaps no more than 500 glyph) hidden fonts that can be either TrueType or Type 2 (CFF PS) fonts.

This might not be a big deal, since pfaedit
can presumably split the font, and groff handle "virtual" fonts built from
pfa-pieces. A pointer on this issue, as well please.

Amateur mistake: You don't use a font editor to split a font! It is the same as using a chain saw to remove your car axel, just because you are too lazy to find a garage where they can lift it and dismount it with a good set of pneumatic nut screws. Or the same as pretending that a whisky on ice is whisky.

4. Adding fonts to devdvi is equally simple. I've always been very fond of
the computer modern fonts. Now, having read about pdftex, I found
references on how to translate .mf into type 1. TuGboat seam to have a who
series of articles on this, published between late 80ties and now. I've
read a handful of them, including one on how to create type1 fonts more or
less directly using metapost. This is feasible for production of new
fonts. To do so for existing ones is impossible, it seems.

Because they were not designed to produce outlines but strokes. And there is the problem of cleaning up the superimposed shapes into one clean outline. People like Richard Kinch (of TrueTeX fame) who earns his living carrying around his authority on Bezier curves, hasn't been able to develop an algorithm that can do it cleanly. Now, fonts designed to use MFPS or RoPS are a different matter, see for example the QXCM font family available at CTAN.

Alejandro López-Valencia
[...] every cultured man is a theologician, and to be so
faith isn't needed. (J.L. Borges)

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