A question about fonts

Eirik Byrkjeflot Anonsen eirik at opera.com
Thu Mar 10 03:54:37 PST 2011

"Andersen, Jan" <jandersen at informatica.com> writes:

> So your problem is that the web browser you are using fails to display
> all the glyphs?  That sounds like an issue with that application.  I
> would think all main web browsers today would have proper font switching
> support.  That is, if the font they are using does not support a
> specific glyph, they will use a different font for that glyph.  A
> possible complication could be if there is a font on the system that
> claims to support the glyph but renders it as a "glyph-not-found" shape.
> (I think I have seen that happen.)
> It would probably make sense to take the question to the web browser's
> forums.
> (That isn't to say that X and related technologies (e.g. fontconfig)
> can't be improved to make it easier for applications to do proper font
> switching, of course.)
> eirik
> _______________________________________________
> Thanks for helping, Eirik.
> I'm not really sure the problem is the browser as such - the
> characters that are missing in the browser are also missing in the
> font when I look at them with Fontforge, and then there is the problem
> with a large number of them being outside the range of any single
> font. I suppose this is something you wouldn't really come across much
> unless you try to do something like what I am doing, where you
> systematically go through everything. Missing characters I simply fill
> in when I have time, so the only remaining problem is the sheer size
> of the set of characters.

It doesn't matter that no single font handles all the characters.  The
web browser should detect that the font it is using can not handle some
glyphs and use a different font for those glyphs.  I know that Opera
does this (since I've actually worked on that code).  If you have fonts
that together support all your glyphs, and opera fails to display some
of them, then that is (probably) a bug in Opera.

This is particularly important for applications like web browsers which
are likely to be asked to display a wide variety of writing systems.
There are quite a few people in the world who reads multiple languages
using multiple writing systems.

> So, I will go away and study fontconfig now. Thanks to everybody for being so patient with me.

I don't think fontconfig will solve the problem on its own.  I think the
application will actually have to do the job of switching between fonts,
but fontconfig can provide some information to help the application do a
better job.


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