[Xorg] Re: [Fontconfig] adding/distributing new fonts

Keith Packard keithp at keithp.com
Sat Aug 7 03:20:07 EST 2004

Around 17 o'clock on Aug 6, Nicolas Mailhot wrote:

> And of course the preferred way would be to have a single set of
> consistent truetype fonts with full unicode coverage.

That's (unfortunately) not really possible.  Korean, Japanese and Chinese
use overlapping sections of Unicode, so you need three separate fonts to
display these languages correctly.  I believe most readers of these
languages can make sense out of the alternate representations, but it's
somewhat akin to a English reader trying to make sense of Arabic numerals
(that's probably overstating the case a bit, but I wanted to use an 
example most of us can directly experience).

Besides, typefaces have a specific "style" which is often only suitable 
for a limited number of character sets; the various curves and stems are 
tightly tied to the expected letterform variations.  One can often extend 
a Latin typeface to Cyrillic, but not to Devanagari.

Take a look at Arial Unicode to see what happens when you try to mash all 
of Unicode into a single "font".  Yuck.  (well, ok, Arial itself is an
ugly clone of Helvetica, but still).

Once you accept that a single typeface cannot cover all of Unicode, you 
simply create applications and mechanisms that can blend multiple fonts 
together to present the user's data.  Fontconfig tries to help with this 
process, and both Qt and Pango manage quite nicely at this point.  Xterm 
could use some help in this area.


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