[Openfontlibrary] new release of the Ubuntu titling font

Nicolas Spalinger nicolas_spalinger at sil.org
Thu Jan 3 09:22:53 PST 2008

>     fonts in TTF format, where something like the original source could be
>     very useful as well, since with TTF we only get the quadratic curves,
>     while they were designed with cubic curves (sure, convertors exist, but
>     they have small errors).
> This is one of the main problems I have with the Open Font License
> (OFL). For a project (font or software or whatever) to be truly
> Free/Libre/Open Source, I think that everything should be provided that
> was used to produce the font.

The OFL model does not place a strict requirements on releasing sources
but strongly encourages to release everything that can be useful to
designers: data files, glyph databases, smart code, build scripts,
documentation and rendering samples.

See FAQ entry 2.6, 4.1, 4.2 and 7

The whole idea of a FONTLOG (encouraging to be much more descriptive
with changes) can also be useful when you want to contribute back or
branch a collaborative font project.

So the idea is to recommend releasing as much source as possible and
turning it into good practise but not making it mandatory.

> For example, the nice Charis SIL is released under the OFL by SIL in TTF
> format with quadratic curves. Internally, SIL works on the font as cubic
> splines. They even request that patches be submitted as cubic splines!
> However, when I contacted them, they refused to release the cubic curves
> that they internally use to produce the font.

AFAIK the intent is to document and release the whole build process for
others to use as well but it takes time and quite a lot of effort.
And requests for a specific patch format/style is not unreasonable. It
is a common practice in many collaborative projects.

Victor Gaultney can tell you himself where things are going more
precisely than me. I would guess that this is more a question of
technical difficulties and time than anything else. (be aware that I
don't speak officially for SIL and I don't set the policies, I am a

I'll point out that other open fonts by SIL are released with more
complete sources.

> For this reason, I am planning my future font releases (those created
> solely by me) under the GPL+font exception. I would be interested to
> hear from other subscribers of the mailing list their opinion of the
> best way to handle this licensing issue.

It is up to the designers to choose the license for their creation but
IMHO the experimental font exception is really less than ideal:
embedding problems may well stay with the ability to remove the
exception in a branch down the line.

And GPL+font exception hasn't been through the same community review and
refinement process than the OFL: it's still tagged experimental and
"this needs your input" on the FSF's website.

But yes I'm also interested to hear what others in the community think.

> Best wishes,
> Stephen


Nicolas Spalinger

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