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

Giuseppe Ghibò ghibo at mandriva.com
Fri Jun 20 22:58:58 CEST 2008

Zdenek Wagner wrote:
> 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
> time.
I agree. Actually the main problem is font encoding (which is custom). 
If you take the TeX Type 1 BlueSky CM fonts,
or convert the MF ones into TTF or OTF using for instance the good 
FontForge, the applications who could access to them,
are pretty awkward at handling directly without some sort of TeX engine. 
You can try for instance in using
such Type1 font family with OpenOffice (apart the ooolatex module 
http://ooolatex.sourceforge.net/). This can be achieved
adding both the .pfb and .afm files into /usr/lib/openoffice/share/fonts.

Methods for converting .mf to outline (either Type1, TTF, OTF) in an 
automatic or semiautomatic way there are several: they go from Kinch's 
to mftrace (using autotracing at higher [smoke] resolution, the same 
FontForge do this step in a semi-transparent way), or metatype1
(for .mf sources already arranged in a certain way). But this 
availability IMHO won't improve the usage of such fonts into 
applications other than TeX|LaTeX|DVI engines (you can try for instance
with inkscape, openoffice, etc.). IMHO adding the MF support to freetype 
shouldn't be too difficult (just call MF in the background to render 
bitmaps at 4x resolution, scale them
and you even get the full antialias), but the problem is which X apps 
can handle these math bitmaps correctly?

IMHO it's better to concentrate efforts in getting things like MathML 
support for browsers working for either screen rendering
as well as printing. E.g. there was the STIX fonts project 
(http://www.stixfonts.org/). For printing
MathML into gecko based browsers, in the past there was the utility xprint
(now merged into Xorg and renamed to Xprt, but IIRC its development 
seems to be abandoned).


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