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Re: [tlug] GUI font tools

>>>>> "Matt" == Matt Gushee <> writes:

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

    Matt>   - One-step download-and-install of non-packaged fonts

Agreed, that would be nice.  But this is hard to do for a 3d-party app
because it has to know the disk layout of the distro being used.  This
suggests a modular back-end that allows plugins that know about defoma
and whatever Red Hat and SuSE and NetBSD use.

Also, the fact that they're non-packaged suggests strongly to me that
they (a) are non-free and (b) not available for download unless you
have purchased them from the vendor.  This is no showstopper
(especially since you are explicitly trying to support font junkies
who would beg, buy or steal), but you might want to check how many
unpackaged fonts seem to be available and do a benefit-to-effort

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

I'm not sure if fontconfig actually permits that, unlike fonts.alias.
AIUI, you can alias font names such as Times to Myfont, but you can't
alias Times Bold to Myfont Medium; it will still be a bold font.  It
might be possible, though, come to think of it, as fontconfig allows
various edits to take place in the translation of a requested font
name to a system font.

Note that in some cases an application must request those
substitutions itself, and given how badly documented fontconfig is, I
wouldn't be surprised if there aren't a fair number of badly coded
applications that don't.  But that's not your problem, I guess.

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

    Matt> But I said "desktop utility." Fontconfig is a rather obscure
    Matt> file-based configuration system.

Oops, sorry.  What I should have added is, "Surely there are plenty of
desktop utilities that interface to fontconfig already.  You'll need
to do more, but I don't see how you can do very much."

    Matt> (and believe me, I've argued with them about [file-based
    Matt> configuration] more than once).

*snort*  Me, too!

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

Well, I suspect that the problems are that (1) fontconfig doesn't
provide any way I know of offhand to group faces into a family, and
(2) many apps use their own config file formats.  So you're limited to
setting the defaults for Monospace, Serif, and SansSerif.  Of course
fontconfig does allow merging several config files.  So if an app uses
a fontconfig file format you're golden---you can set its defaults that
way (for the user, but again you need to know where that app keeps its
system config if you want system-wide configuration).

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

Heh, heh, heh, you're talking to the man who thinks he knows how to
fix that for XEmacs.

By the way, you can get an info-formatted fontconfig manual at

It's a big improvement over the plain text and manpage versions.  And
courtesy of Aidan Kehoe and Daniel Pittman, it even has some info
parsed from experience and/or the source that isn't in the original.

    Matt> I'm not convinced. As I replied to that thread, I suspect
    Matt> it's possible, for example, to pass a Japanese font off as a
    Matt> Unicode font

Well, it depends on the font.  For Type 1 CID fonts, yes.  And you
don't even have to hack the Cmaps, you just have to have one for the
UTF you're using.  But it won't work for older Type 1 composite fonts.
I don't know about Microsoft .ttcs.  All bets are off on Syotai Club
and stuff like that, of course.  With modern .ttfs and OpenType fonts,
I believe they're all Unicode-based rather than having Adobe's funky
CID system, so there should be ways to use them to cons up Unicode
coverage.  (fontconfig provides ways to do this, but I think it really
requires assistance from the app.)

    Matt> You used to be able to [translate Unicode to Japanese fonts]
    Matt> with fonts.alias files, and I would bet you can with
    Matt> fontconfig too, though I haven't learned how.

Uh-uh, sorry.  What was done with fonts.alias was transcoded fonts.
Ie, you need to rewrite the font file.  The problem is that X11 fonts
both as BDF and as PCF know what the coded character for each glyph
is, as encoded in the charset registry at the end of the XLFD and in a
font property.

School of Systems and Information Engineering
University of Tsukuba                    Tennodai 1-1-1 Tsukuba 305-8573 JAPAN
               Ask not how you can "do" free software business;
              ask what your business can "do for" free software.

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