[Fontconfig] gnome-terminal and font selection -- again

John A. Boyd Jr. jaboydjr at netwalk.com
Wed Feb 18 09:50:40 EST 2004

<To the list - the original was rejected due to size of the
attached image - this image was reduced.>
<Moderator - reject my prior submission if you prefer.>

I guess I'm so frustrated by this, Brian, that I can't even

But a picture is worth a thousand words, so I hope you can see the
attached screenshot of my gnome-terminal font selection dialog.

The original XLFDs in question are:

6x13 (for the font selected in the attached image):

7x13 (for what "Regular" might select):

XLFD doesn't use "Regular" for either.

So, where does the "Regular" come from?

The answer is it's some software designer(s)' idea of how much
information the average font user needs about a font, other than
"Family Name" and "Size" (which is actually height, in terms
of actual font metrics).  I.e., "Style" is "whatever information
a user needs, besides font name and height, to select specific
variants of a font."  That's a perfectly reasonable definition,
but it's not being honored by too many of the current generation
of font packages, which hardcode "Regular", "Bold", and "Italic",
and think automatically selecting fonts otherwise makes up the

The inadequacy here, that I'm trying to point out, is that users
have been left high and dry, with no means to specify font
characteristics, even if they want to edit files like "fonts.conf"
like you did, since that doesn't actually help them select a
font in practice.

It turns out that one can compose a list of "value-descriptive"
keywords that a user CAN use, either in an existing font
selection dialog or elsewhere, that are sufficiently abstract,
mutually exclusive, and descriptive, to allow USERS to select
fonts instead of programmers making decisions about what font
a user should get to see, and automating the selection for them.

Until such an approach is employed by recent "let's replace
XLFD because we don't like it" tools, there is a net loss in
user terms, in my opinion.


Brian J. Murrell wrote:
> On Tue, 2004-02-17 at 16:25, John A. Boyd Jr. wrote:
>>I'm almost at a loss for words...
> Glad I could leave you speechless.  :-)
>>It "works?"  How do you define "works?"
> It met the goal(s) of my original list posting.
>>I guess I have a different
>>standard: it "works" when it can be used from all applications of
>>interest to me.
> Fair enough, but the question Keith answered and the direction he gave
> me were with respect to my original goal which was to be able to choose
> which font I saw as "Fixed" in gnome-terminal.
> Now as I followed up, ideally I could "invent" new fonts (being aliases
> to existing fonts) that would appear in the gnome font selection dialog,
> but for my purposes here, overriding "Fixed" with a specific font is a
> satisfactory short term solution.
>>2) What is style "Regular"?  What does it have to do with the
>>    original XLFD specification?
> As per my original posting, it was just what "xfd" gave me.  I don't
> know much about the details of the original XLFD specification.
>>3) If you, Brian, make up an alias family name for a font which
>>    could otherwise be very easily described in a standard way,
>>    then others will do the same, and bunches of people will have
>>    different pet names for what used to be a standardly-aliased
>>    font.
> Fair enough, which is why I asked about being able to define a new
> font/alias which I called "My Fixed Font" to describe the specific XLFD
> font I wanted to use.
>>No one has commented on my patches, which introduce a standard
>>way to handle attributes which occur in known fonts but are not
>>otherwise as easily classified, e.g., as "weight" or "slant", or are
>>not otherwise uniformly classified across font-handling applications.
> I am most likely the least qualified to do so, so I will just hold my
> tongue.
> b.

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