Redesigned font download page of SMC

The font preview and download page of SMC has a fresh look now.

fonts

The intention is to provide a font preview, typography showcase, download site in single page. Every font has multiple illustrations of usage and the text used is editable if you want to try your own text there.

The old page which was also designed by myself was not mobile friendly. It provides a single page view to compare the fonts, each represented as cards. But it did not had enough flexibility to showcase some fine usages of typography.

fonts

The new design is mobile friendly.
fonts

On technical side, I used flexbox, LESS. For carousal style transitions, I used cycle2  More importantly, I did not use bootstrap :).  See code.

New version of Malayalam fonts released

Swathanthra Malayalam Computing project announced the release of new version of Malayalam unicode fonts this week. In this version, there are many improvements for popular Malayalam fonts Rachana and Meera. Dyuthi font has some bug fixes. I am listing the changes below.

  1. Meera font was small compared to other fonts. This was not really a problem in Gnome environment since fontconfig allows you to define a scaling factor to match other font size. But it was an issue in Libreoffice, KDE and mainly in Windows where this kind of scaling feature does not work. Thanks to P Suresh for a rework on glyphs and fixing this issue.
  2. Rachana, Meera and Dyuthi had wrong glyphs used as placeholder glyphs. Bugs like these are fixed.
  3. Virama 0D4D had a wrong LSB that cause the cursor positioning and glyph boundary go wrong. Fixed that bug
  4. Atomic Chilu code points introduced in Unicode 5.1 was missing in all the fonts that SMC maintained because of the controversial decision by Unicode and SMC’s stand against that. Issues still exist, but content with code point is present, to avoid any difficulties to users, added those characters to Meera and Rachana fonts.
  5. Rupee Symbols added to Meera and Rachana. Thanks to Hiran for designing Sans and Serif glyphs for Rupee.
  6. Dot Reph(0D4E) – The glyphs for this was already present in Meera but unmapped to any unicode point. GSUB Lookup tables added to the glyphs according to unicode specification.

For a more detailed change description see this mail thread. There are some minor changes as well.

Thanks to Hussain K H (designer of both Meera and Rachana) , P Suresh, Hiran for their valuable contribution. And thanks to SMC community and font users for using the fonts and reporting bugs. We hope that we can bring this new version in your favorite GNU/Linux distros soon. Wikimedia’s WebFonts extension uses Meera font and the font will be updated there soon. Next release of GNU Freefont is expected to update Malayalam glyphs using Meera and Rachana for freefont-sans and freefont-serif font respectively. We plan to update other fonts we maintain also with these changes in next versions. There are still some glyphs missing in these fonts with respect to the latest unicode version.

 

SVG Fonts

This post is some notes on the current state of SVG Fonts.

SVG is not a webfont format. The purpose of SVG fonts is to be embedded inside of SVG documents  (or linked to them), similar to the way you would embed standard  TrueType or OpenType fonts in a PDF.  SVG fonts are text files that contain the glyph outlines represented  as standard SVG elements and attributes, as if they were single vector  objects in the SVG image. Unlike EOT, WOFF, TTF formats , SVG is plain text uncompressed file.

Even though it is not webfont format, some browsers will accept svg in the @fontface css3 declaration.

Firefox and IE does not support SVG Fonts. Here is the bug on Mozilla bugzilla about this with a lengthy discussion –https://bugzilla.mozilla.org/show_bug.cgi?id=119490  This is one of the reason why Firefox does not score ACID3 test – http://www.itcode.org/why-firefox-is-not-scoring-100-in-the-acid3-test . Developers argue that WOFF is sufficient and SVG Fonts does not give any advantage.  Support for SVG Fonts in the web development and font communities has been declining for some time. There’s already been discussion without objection of dropping SVG fonts from the Acid3 test. The community has put forth a proposal in the SVG Working Group to give SVG Fonts optional status.

Browser Support Matrix for SVG Fonts http://caniuse.com/#feat=svg-fonts  IE and FF do not support it. Webkit based browsers support it – Chrome, Epiphany. For browsers not supporting svg features natively there is a flash based javascript library named svgweb http://code.google.com/p/svgweb/

Limitations of svg fonts:

  • Not all of the opentype features are available in SVG specification
  • For example Indic fonts require many opentype features for correct rendering – see opentype spec of Malayalam http://www.microsoft.com/typography/otfntdev/malayot/shaping.aspx
  • Even though SVG Fonts are support is available in some browsers, practically they cannot render SVG fonts for complex scripts such as Indic – Here is a sample svg file with Meera font defined in it – http://thottingal.in/tests/svg/Meera-fontembedding.svg. As you can see, rendering is wrong.
  • The main drawback to SVG fonts is there is no provision for font-hinting. The SVG standard states: “SVG  fonts contain unhinted font outlines. Because of this, on many  implementations there will be limitations regarding the quality and  legibility of text in small font sizes. For increased quality and  legibility in small font sizes, content creators may want to use an  alternate font technology, such as fonts that ship with operating  systems or an alternate WebFont format. – http://www.w3.org/TR/SVG/fonts.html”

There is an alternate proposal to use opentype features of the font and use svg just for the glyphs https://wiki.mozilla.org/SVGOpenTypeFonts

Fontforge can be used for creating SVG Fonts. But the created SVG font works only for simple scripts like Latin. Fails to export GPOS/GSUB tables to the SVG- bug report – http://sourceforge.net/mailarchive/message.php?msg_id=27964229 GSUB issue can be solved either by handcoding the unicode sequences for glyphs or by writing an external script. But , more important opentype features- Vowel sign(matra) reordering issues persists.

Eventhough svg fonts by defining font data inside svg itself does not seem to have much interest from developers, using webfonts inside for svg has some importance. Just like web pages, webfonts can be used to render the text inside the svg. The webfont format depends on the browser. Example: http://thottingal.in/tests/svg/Dyuthi-Webfont.svg (Have a look at the source code of the file)