[Fontconfig] Tutorial or guidance for using fontconfig

Robert Kerr rakerr at sandia.gov
Fri Jan 9 12:05:16 PST 2009

On Fri, 9 Jan 2009, Behdad Esfahbod wrote:

> Robert Kerr wrote:
>> On Wed, 7 Jan 2009, Behdad Esfahbod wrote:
>>> Hi Robert,
>>> I agree with Ed that you should highly consider using pangocairo
>>> (pangoft2
>>> would do it too, but is not developed anymore).  Now, you probably
>>> will see
>>> some resistance as this will introduce a few new dependencies.  But
>>> that's
>>> really the only way to bring full internationalization to your toolkit.
>> Well, since Pango/cairo are already linked in, perhaps the dependency
>> issue won't be horrible.
> Ah, makes a lot of sense then.  It may be a bit more work though.
>>> If you still decide to use fontconfig directly, I always reply to
>>> messages
>>> that are to the point.  True, there is no good guide to read.  But if
>>> you ask
>>> smart questions (like, "I have a family name, how do I find the best
>>> font file
>>> to use?"), you get smart answers.  If you ask stupid questions ("how
>>> do I use
>>> fontconfig?"), you probably don't get any answers.
>> I can understand your position, but this still points out a
>> problem--i.e. how does a new developer learn enough to ask smart
>> questions?  For example, your suggested "smart question" is something
>> that I wouldn't be able to even think about for awhile.  So really, the
>> question that I was trying to ask was "How do I get started?" and is the
>> question that there really isn't anything available to find an answer fore.
> Interesting.
>> That being said, I'm incredibly grateful to everyone on the list who's
>> been so helpful--I was full of trepidation that I'd be either ignored,
>> or flamed into a pile of cinders, but you all have been very helpful.
> Well, we're no weirdos, just your typical free software developers.  From my
> experience over the past couple of years, most of the requests that go
> unanswered are typically asking for 1) more documentation, or 2) help porting
> ABC to embedded platform XYZ.  The former goes unanswered because what's out
> there is all there is available, and the latter goes unanswered because no one
> on the list has any idea what the XYZ platform is or what issues the requester
> is facing.
> Cheers,
> behdad

Certainly makes sense.  Although, I know that I have LOADS of free time to 
just sit around and play, so I can't see why it should be different for 
anyone else!  I mean, don't we all have scads of extra time to write up 
tutorials and examples?  Oh, wait, sorry--that's my other life, in 



>> Thanks again
>> -bob
>>> Cheers,
>>> behdad
>>> Robert Kerr wrote:
>>>> Ed,
>>>> Thanks for the response.  I appreciate your input.
>>>> So, my situation is that I'm rather new to the team, and was given this
>>>> assignment by someone else, and it was suggested that I look into
>>>> putting
>>>> fontconfig into the project.  If pango et al already handle what we
>>>> need,
>>>> then that drastically reduces the issues I have to deal with.  It
>>>> would be
>>>> a case of the person giving me the assignment not having any
>>>> experience in
>>>> font issues, and not knowing what route to take for this.
>>>> I'll certainly look more into what pango/cairo provide, in the hopes
>>>> that
>>>> it'll prove a better avenue of exploration.
>>>> Thanks again!
>>>> -bob
>>>> On Wed, 7 Jan 2009, Ed Trager wrote:
>>>>> Hi, Robert,
>>>>> I don't understand *why* you would want to integrate fontconfig into
>>>>> VTK.  I assume that VTK only really needs access to high-level string
>>>>> layout functionality, such as that provided by the Pango, Pango+Cairo,
>>>>> or Pango+FreeType2 libraries.  So why don't you just go one of those
>>>>> routes and let Pango/FreeType deal with fontconfig under the hood
>>>>> somewhere?
>>>>> - Ed Trager
>>>>> On Wed, Jan 7, 2009 at 11:16 AM, Robert Kerr <rakerr at sandia.gov> wrote:
>>>>>> Hi all,
>>>>>> First, let me introduce myself.  My name is Bob Kerr, and I'm
>>>>>> investigating the possibility of involving fontconfig into VTK.  It
>>>>>> seems
>>>>>> like this would be a good match, and there's some good excitement
>>>>>> on the
>>>>>> vtk side for this.
>>>>>> Now, I've got fontconfig 2.6.0 installed, and it seems that
>>>>>> everything is
>>>>>> working correctly, as far as I can tell.  But, there doesn't seem
>>>>>> to be
>>>>>> any way to get from where I am to where I want to go.  I firmly
>>>>>> believe
>>>>>> that fontconfig is useful, and viable, and valuable, but I can't
>>>>>> find any
>>>>>> type of documentation or tutorial or guide as to how to put fontconfig
>>>>>> into my application.  There's the developers' guide, which is just
>>>>>> a list
>>>>>> of functions and a brief description.  There's the users' guide, which
>>>>>> describe how to add fonts to fontconfig and then use an application
>>>>>> that
>>>>>> uses fontconfig.  There's some slides that Keith has posted (from
>>>>>> years
>>>>>> ago) about the reasons for fontconfig.  But there's nothing out
>>>>>> there that
>>>>>> tells me how to integrate it.
>>>>>> After some lengthy searching, I've found a few items that make me
>>>>>> somewhat
>>>>>> concerned--requests for help from other people in my position,
>>>>>> which have
>>>>>> gone unanswered, both to this list and in other forums.  I took the
>>>>>> initiative to email one of those requestors, and they responded
>>>>>> that they
>>>>>> had received no help from the fontconfig community, and had decided
>>>>>> that
>>>>>> fontconfig wasn't important for their application, since it looked
>>>>>> to be
>>>>>> too high of a cost to try to integrate it, since there was no help
>>>>>> available.
>>>>>> So, in a perhaps futile gesture, I'm asking once again if there is
>>>>>> some
>>>>>> sort of Newbie Guide to Integrating fontconfig into an
>>>>>> Application.  Or,
>>>>>> failing that, is there an application that uses fontconfig and is
>>>>>> well-structured, such that I can learn from it?  Or, failing that, is
>>>>>> there anyone in the fontconfig community that is willing to mentor
>>>>>> someone?
>>>>>> I realize that this is something that isn't fun to do--the
>>>>>> mentoring of
>>>>>> new people, but if the goal of fontconfig is to provide a standard
>>>>>> interface and mechanism for handling fonts across a wide variety of
>>>>>> platforms and applications, then it behooves the community to
>>>>>> provide some
>>>>>> way to get more people using it, rather than just ignoring requests
>>>>>> for
>>>>>> guidance.
>>>>>> Thanks in advance for any answers you might be able to provide.
>>>>>> --
>>>>>> -bob
>>>>>> Bad Performance Evaluations: "This employee is depriving a village
>>>>>> somewhere of an idiot."
>>>>>> **********************************************************************
>>>>>> *      Robert Kerr, Member of the Cubit Mesh Generation Team         *
>>>>>> *       and the Titan Informatics Toolkit Development Team           *
>>>>>> *      rakerr at sandia.gov          |    PO Box 5800,  MS 0376         *
>>>>>> *      Phone: (505) 844-8606      |    Sandia National Labs          *
>>>>>> *      Fax: (505) 284-0140        |  Albuquerque, NM 87185-0376      *
>>>>>> **********************************************************************
>>>>>> _______________________________________________
>>>>>> Fontconfig mailing list
>>>>>> Fontconfig at lists.freedesktop.org
>>>>>> http://lists.freedesktop.org/mailman/listinfo/fontconfig


That's as secure as taping a $100 to the floor of a football stadium
bathroom for safekeeping.
*      Robert Kerr, Member of the Cubit Mesh Generation Team         *
*       and the Titan Informatics Toolkit Development Team           *
*      rakerr at sandia.gov          |    PO Box 5800,  MS 0376         *
*      Phone: (505) 844-8606      |    Sandia National Labs          *
*      Fax: (505) 284-0140        |  Albuquerque, NM 87185-0376      *

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