[tex-live] Metafont fonts and X (font server?)

Zdenek Wagner zdenek.wagner at gmail.com
Fri Jun 20 19:52:33 CEST 2008

2008/6/20 George N. White III <gnwiii at gmail.com>:
> On Fri, Jun 20, 2008 at 11:44 AM, Giuseppe Bilotta
> <giuseppe.bilotta at gmail.com> wrote:
>> On Wednesday 11 June 2008 15:41, George N. White III wrote:
>>> My guess is that the X font machinery doesn't really have all the
>>> capabilities needed to
>>> support maths layout, so it may not be enought just to get bitmaps.
>> If .mf support could be added to freetype, Xorg (and lots of other apps) would get it for
>> free as well. Of course the problem is adding support for it to freetype. Maybe
>> mplib could give a hand in that?
> To me the question is whether the efforts to improve X support for
> languages with
> with other than left-to-right layout will prove adequate for maths.  I
> suspect the
> best we hope for is that the new machinery (both rendering engines and fonts)
> can be tweaked to work for maths.  If we end up with some fundamentally
> broken system, then something that renders .mf directly might make sense,
> but then there would be pressure to extend .mf to support many more glyphs,
> so we would need a new format and tools to convert .otf to .mf, etc.

If you are satisfied with ugly conversion of a simple font, it can be
easy. You just convert the outline curve and fill it. OTF can contain
various features. In order to implement them you will have to convert
one OTF to a set f MF fonts and make some clever driver file. And
hinting in OTF is different from hinting in MF. I am afraid that it
can only be done manually. When you go to printing, you need an
outline font. If you ask in any DTP studio how to set MF mode suitable
for their phototypesetter, they won't know. If you convert your set of
MF back to OTF, you have to make hinting again manually. Thus I am
almost sure that tweaking with MF is nowadays nothing but waste of

> I was kinda
> hoping I might live long enough to see nice maths rendering become the
> norm, not
> something that takes much work and esoteric tools.
> --
> George N. White III <aa056 at chebucto.ns.ca>
> Head of St. Margarets Bay, Nova Scotia

Zdeněk Wagner

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