Mailing List Archive

[Date Prev][Date Next][Thread Prev][Thread Next][Date Index][Thread Index]

Re: [tlug] GUI font tools

Stephen J. Turnbull wrote:
>>>>>>"Matt" == Matt Gushee <> writes:
>     Matt> I'm considering developing a desktop utility that would help
>     Matt> end users install and manage fonts; 
> What is the goal here?

Besides being part of an oblique self-promotion scheme? I'm not totally 
clear on that. I have a vague sense that something is needed, but I'm 
not quite sure what. That's why I asked.

Though there are some additional features that might be nice to have, 
such as:

  - One-step download-and-install of non-packaged fonts
  - Managing font *families*, not just individual fonts. E.g. you should
    be able to say, "font X is the bold italic for family Y." And there
    seem to be some technical and legal obstacles to doing this, but I
    think it may still be feasible.

> I mean, for installation, what's insufficient
> about apt, yum, and even gold old rpm?

They're fine if the fonts you need are available in those package 
formats. Some users need more: designers, professional and otherwise, 
often use quality commercial fonts that can't be Linux-packaged due to 
licensing issues (of course, not many people use Linux for design work, 
but it's starting to happen here and there); others use languages for 
which there aren't many free fonts (Japanese, Chinese, probably Arabic 
... umm, Gujarati? No, I'll leave Indian languages to the Indians); some 
people are just font junkies.

> For font management = setting up defaults, fontconfig seems to be the
> way to go.

But I said "desktop utility." Fontconfig is a rather obscure file-based 
configuration system. Now I personally have no problem with file-based 
config systems, but the majority of Linux users and admins I know seem 
to think graphical tools for everything are desirable (and believe me, 
I've argued with them about it more than once).

So maybe the thing to do is a graphical front end to fontconfig. I guess 
the font setup component of the GNOME configurator must be exactly that, 
but the last time I tried it it seemed really crippled.

> The problem is that unless the font exists as TrueType or
> maybe Type 1, fontconfig is unable to do much sensible with it.
> However, in free fonts for multibyte languages, it's still true that
> many fonts are available only in BDF or idiosyncratic forms.

Mm. There are also some nice fonts for coding that only come in bitmap 
form; GVim can't use them any more, because it uses fontconfig :-(

> I think that font management = making things look good to the user
> really is an application-specific problem.  Eg, consider the recent
> post (maybe by Lyle?) about ugly fonts in Firefox v. Thunderbird.
> There's just not that much that users can do about that from outside
> the app.

I'm not convinced. As I replied to that thread, I suspect it's possible, 
for example, to pass a Japanese font off as a Unicode font (you might 
have to hack the font's CMap, too, which gets into licensing issues, but 
I'll leave that discussion for another time). You used to be able to do 
that kind of thing with fonts.alias files, and I would bet you can with 
fontconfig too, though I haven't learned how.

Thanks for the comments.

Matt Gushee
Englewood, CO, USA

Home | Main Index | Thread Index

Home Page Mailing List Linux and Japan TLUG Members Links