Modern font features

Steve White stevan.white at
Fri Mar 30 02:39:59 PDT 2012

This is to express a general wish, that the word processor be brought
up to date with respect to typographic features, sucha as are present
in many modern fonts, and handled by all modern font rendering

It's disappointing that LibreOffice (as well as its commercial
competition) have *poorer* support for these features than the base
operating system.  That is, a basic text editor, or even a warning
dialog box, have better support for font features than a big program
designed to handle heavily formatted text!

Basic features
(Background reading: search for "typographic features", "font feature
registry", "layout tag registry".)

Some features that really ought to be activated most of the time, in
most scripts
* ligatures for Latin and most alphabetic scripts
* localized replacement (based on text language, region)
* pair kerning
* mark positioning

Some of these are deactivated for no apparent reason. (Sometimes it's a bug).

Finer features
Some features correspond to L/O features, but they aren't properly
handled by the font rendering engine. For example
* small caps
Many fonts contain special glyphs, just for this purpose.  Superior
applications would first check if the font feature is available and
use that, before resorting to a crude scaling.

To be fair, the competition doesn't do this either--but XeTeX does
(using ICU!!!).
It would be *easy* for L/O to beat the competition typographically!

Fancier features
It would be cool to provide some interface for such features as:
* stylistic sets
* character variants
* user-chosen alternative forms
* contextual alternatives
* historical forms
* petite caps (and other capitalization-related features)
* old-style or proportional digits
* fractions
* swashes

The new Millennium
While current "desktop publishing" software is stuck in the 80s
typographically, web browsers are catching up to the font standards.
(Especially considering that some people use desktop publishing
software to generate web pages!)

There are already proposals to give control of such features to web
page developers.

Here is an interesting chart of typographic features vs applications.
( isn't on the list, for good reason, I think.)
(it says Word does small caps -- but it doesn't do them right)

Of course there's the argument that LibreOffice should be just as bad
as the competition.

(As though at some point LibreOffice ever produced documents that were
identical with the competition's.  As though the competition displayed
documents identically on different systems -- of course the real world
was never this way!)

But to fill a desire for cozy similarity with the competition, there
is always the always the option of a compatibility flag, to excise any

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