[Scribus] Linux Font Editor?

John Jordan johnxj
Fri Sep 30 17:57:01 CEST 2005

On 30 Sep 2005, at 0:28, Daniel Paul O'Donnell wrote:

> Why would you do this? There is SIL Doulos, and Junicode at the very
> least for serif; I think Everson has some sans fonts with this kind of
> material.

Believe me, I've tried SIL Doulos. There are numerous problems 
with it --

1) It has no typesetting niceties -- ligatures and true small caps, for 
example -- and there are only two weights. 

2) It is not properly coded. It was coded so that one could use a 
standard American keyboard and type certain letters, which would 
then produce the character. For example, the esh is coded to the 
S. Thererfore the font lacks an actual S character. This was done 
so they could create a keyboard template, which is provided along 
with the font.

3) It was designed to be an adjunct to Times. In other words, since 
it lacks an actual S, one is supposed to use a normal times font for 
ordinary writing, and then switch to the Doulos font when IPA 
characters are needed. This is time-consuming, plus the Doulos 
font does not exactly match any extant version of Times. 
Furthermore, I personally dislike Times, as it is too hackneyed.

4) Because of the odd coding, you get different results from 
different programs. For example, in OpenOffice.org Writer the esh 
appears on screen, but a different character is output to my Adobe 
PostScript printer. In Word on Windows 2000, the esh works, but I 
get similar unpredictable results with other characters. You never 
know what you're going to end up with in the final output. One of 
my professors uses Windows XP and the latest version of Word on 
both his office computer and his home computer. He says it works 
on his home computer but he gets different results on his office 
computer. Not acceptable for DTP work that may have to go to an 

5) It is available for free, but copyright is held by the Summer 
Institute of Languages, a fundamentalist Christian organization in 
Texas whose goal is to translate the bible into as many languages 
as possible in order to convert the heathens. This does not set well 
with many university folks.

At this point the best font I have found is Gentium. It has a pretty 
full character set for DTP work, but there is only one weight. It 
seems to be pretty well coded, but not 100%. For example, the tie 
bar appears on screen and prints as a ?. Also, although it is 
available for free, about a year ago the author transferred the 
copyright to the Summer Institute of Languages.

There are also the Adobe Stone Phonetic fonts, but again, they 
lack all the features needed for DTP work -- only one weight, no 
ligatures, small caps, etc. I do not have them so I cannot say 
whether they are properly coded. I assume, however, that Adobe 
would at least make sure they were unicode compliant and that 
they tested them with various programs. There is also the problem 
that they are not free, a drawback for university students. I just paid 
over $800 for textbooks for fall term here. I would not be pleased if 
a prof required me to buy a set of Adobe fonts. OK, maybe a small 
amount would be acceptable. Even the Adobe fonts might be 
acceptable if Adobe offered academic prices, but they do not for 
their fonts.

I have also tried a number of other freeware IPA fonts, but all have 
one or more of the above listed problems. What is needed is a 
complete OpenType font with all the cool alternate characters for 
DTP work, plus all the IPA characters in the right unicode slots.

I have to admit my knowledge of font creation and unicode is 
deficient. But I do know some things about fonts, and I'm not 
completely stupid. It would be a massive undertaking for me alone, 
but I am hoping that I can find someone in the open source 
community who has already created a pretty good font and who 
would let me collaborate to add the IPA characters and whatever 
DTP stuff is missing. 

I do have a Windows 2000 computer, so I could use Fontlab. But 
the academic price is 50% off the regular price of $649. That's still 
pretty steep. Hence my search for a good Linux font editor. My 
goal is to start by using it to enhance my knowledge and skills for 
font creation, while also searching for possible collaborators and 
scoping out what fonts are currently available and adaptable in the 
open source community.

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