Typoday 2018

Santhosh and I jointly presented a paper at Typoday 2018. The paper was titled ‘Spiral splines in typeface design: A case study of Manjari Malayalam typeface’. The full paper is available here. The presentation is available here.

Typoday is the annual conference where typographers and graphic designers from academia and industry come up with their ideas and showcase their work. Typoday 2018 was held at Convocation Hall, University of Mumbai.


Manjari 1.5 version released

A new version of Manjari typeface is available now. Version 1.5 is mainly a bug fix release.

In version 1.3, the build tooling of the project was changed from fontforge to fontmake. Two weeks back a few people reported that the font no longer works in MS Word and Wordpad. Font selector lists the font, but when selected, the content remains same. It works in all other applications without any issues. Because of that the bug went unnoticed.

Debugging the issue was not easy since font works everywhere else. I did a line by line diff of the ttx format(XML font format) of old and new version fonts.  Found that the OS/2 ulUnicodeRange, ulCodePageRange values were set to 0 in version 1.3.  Apparently these values are really checked by MS Word and Wordpad. If these are missing Wordpad and Word just rejects the font.  Correct values for these fields are set now.

New version 1.5 is available now. You can download the latest fonts from https://smc.org.in/fonts/#manjari

Stylistic Alternates for ച്ച, ള്ള in Manjari and Chilanka fonts

The ligatures for the Malayalam conjuncts ച്ച, ള്ള have less popular variants as shown below

The second form is not seen in print but often in handwritten Malayalam. I have seen it a lot in bus boards especially at Thiruvananthapuram. There are no digital typefaces with the second style, except the Chilanka font I designed. It uses the second variant of ച്ച. I got lot of appreciation for that style variant, but also recieved request for the first form of ച്ച. I had a private copy of Chilanka with that variant and had given to whoever requested. I also recieved some requests for the second style of ള്ള. For the Manjari font too, I recieved requests for second variant.

Today I am announcing the new version of Manjary and Chilanka font, with these two forms as optional variants without the need for a different copy of a font. In a single font, you will get both these variants using the Opentype stylistic alternatives feature.

The default styles of ച്ച and ള്ള are not changed in new version. The fonts comes with an option to chose a different form.

Choosing the style for webfonts using CSS

Use the font-feature-settings CSS style to choose a style. For the element or class in the html, use it as follows:

For style 1:

font-feature-settings: "salt" 1;

For style 2:

font-feature-settings: "salt" 2;

Choosing the style variant in LibreOffice

In the place of the font name in font selector, append :salt=1 for first style, :salt=2 for second style. So you need to give Manjari Regular:salt=2 as the font name for example to get second style.

Choosing the style variant in XeLaTeX

fontspec allows to choose alterate style variants. Use Alternate=N syntax. Note that N starts from 0. So for style1, use Alternate=0 and for style2 use Alternate=2. Refer section 2.8.3 of fontspec documentation.


\manjari{\addfontfeature{Alternate=1}കാച്ചാണി, വെള്ളയമ്പലം}


This will produce the following rendering:

Choosing the style variant in Inkscape

Inkscape font selection dialog has a feature to chose font style variants. It uses the property values of CSS font-feature-settng.

In Adobe, Indesign, selecting the ligature will give stylistic alternative(s) if any to choose.

Updated fonts

Updated fonts are available in SMC’s font download microsite https://smc.org.in/fonts