[nc] What OpenType features is FontForge missing?

Bug #641930 reported by Khaled Hosny on 2010-09-18
20
This bug affects 3 people
Affects Status Importance Assigned to Milestone
Ubuntu Font Family
Medium
Unassigned

Bug Description

This was originally posted as question, but it got expired with no answer. I'm not sure why to direct such a question, but I'm, genuinely, interested in knowing such limitations (and possibilities to fix it), and since questions did not work, I'm asking here.

The wikipage (https://wiki.ubuntu.com/Ubuntu%20Font%20Family) states:

FontForge (as of mid-2010) does not handle some extended OpenType features, hopefully having a libre/open font that uses these features will speed development in being able to support the them!

I'd like to know what exactly are the missing features so we can work on adding them, a blank statement like this is on no much use (and to my knowledge, FontForge has the most complete OpenType coverage, implementing parts of the spec that no other font editor or layout engine has implemented).

description: updated
Paul Sladen (sladen) wrote :

There is some information about FontForge's table support below and which notes "support for both OpenType and Apple is incomplete":

  http://fontforge.sourceforge.net/gposgsub.html

Dave Crossland (davelab6) wrote :

I see from the wiki history that Paul Sladen wrote this about FontForge.

https://wiki.ubuntu.com/Ubuntu%20Font%20Family?action=recall&rev=1

While technically true that FontForge has the most complete OpenType feature support of any font tools, the UI presents that support in a way that only makes sense if you are intimately familiar with the OpenType specification. I think its likely that anyone who uses Microsoft Visual OpenType Tool (VOLT) (as Dalton Maag do) will take one look at FontForge's UI and say, "This doesn't support OpenType Features, because the UI is so unfamiliar to me that I can't figure out how to do what I do in VOLT."

So, its not a problem of MISSING features, its a problem of applying User Experience Design principles to FontForge's UI.

I believe that FontForge is an excellent font editing tool under the hood, and it just needs UX work to be truly great.

Dave Crossland (davelab6) wrote :

Ahh, thanks Paul!

Do UFF fonts use those OT features?

On Sun, Sep 19, 2010 at 11:22:12PM -0000, Paul Sladen wrote:
> There is some information about FontForge's table support below and
> which notes "support for both OpenType and Apple is incomplete":
>
> http://fontforge.sourceforge.net/gposgsub.html

Well, AFAIK, the features that FontForge does not currently support are
not supported by any other font editor or layout engine, this includes
MS VOLT, Adobe's AFDKO, Uniscribe and so on. So I fail to see how such
lack of support would affect the UFF in any way.

Apple stuff is irrelevant (AAT is a dying technology, even Apple is
abandoning it).

Khaled Hosny (khaledhosny) wrote :

On Sun, Sep 19, 2010 at 11:22:17PM -0000, Dave Crossland wrote:
> I believe that FontForge is an excellent font editing tool under the
> hood, and it just needs UX work to be truly great.

I've been hacking FontForge lately, and it occurred to me that porting it
to GTK is not that hard, it is just a tedious poring job, but someone
with modest GTK and C knowledge should be able to do it in few
weeks/months, it would be a first step towards a more humanly UI.

Dave Crossland (davelab6) wrote :

On 20 September 2010 02:18, Khaled Hosny <email address hidden> wrote:
> On Sun, Sep 19, 2010 at 11:22:17PM -0000, Dave Crossland wrote:
>> I believe that FontForge is an excellent font editing tool under the
>> hood, and it just needs UX work to be truly great.
>
> I've been hacking FontForge lately, and it occurred to me that porting it
> to GTK is not that hard, it is just a tedious poring job, but someone
> with modest GTK and C knowledge should be able to do it in few
> weeks/months, it would be a first step towards a more humanly UI.

Using the clearlooks theme, its not TOO bad :-)

The problem is with the design of the UI - so porting the existing UI
isn't very helpful :)

I believe making a QT4 application on top of libfontforge is the best
way to go (perhaps via PyQT and the python bindings to get started.)

If the issue is indeed one of usability/layout/familiarity (eg. similar to the Photoshop/GIMP difference) then the /technology/ used is unimportant.

Nicolas Spalinger (yosch) wrote :

What about a usability review session at the next LGM? Laying out plans, tasks, people and funds for improvements to the open font design toolkit?

 On 28/09/10 11:13, Nicolas Spalinger wrote:
> What about a usability review session at the next LGM? Laying out plans,
> tasks, people and funds for improvements to the open font design
> toolkit?

Sounds good!

Apologies for being a bit ignorant - what is LGM? Would this be a session at UDS? I am going to be at UDS and as I would very much like to open the discussion for open font tools that are at least as good, easy and intuitive to use as Fontlab currently is.

Typographic OT features can easily be added in Fontlab. Where VOLT comes in is for complex non-Latin stuff which currently FL can't do. For FontForge to be a useful tool, this would have to be added (if not already present). I believe we (Dalton Maag) can add a lot to this discussion as we are on the font design and engineering front line every day. Maybe it is a case of us compiling a wishlist - for UDS - to be up for discussion?

Bruno

Hi Bruno. LGM is the Libre Graphics Meeting, it's a gathering of folks
from many different projects with a common interest in graphics-related
technologies. UDS is focused on "the next six months of Ubuntu" and
integrates a lot of what's being done in those communities, LGM is more
focused on underlying technologies and apps.

Mark

Thanks Mark, for the clarification.

Dave Crossland (davelab6) wrote :

http://www.libregraphicsmeeting.org is the official website, and http://river-valley.tv/conferences/lgm-2010 has videos of the past 4 years presentations in full :) The 6th edition of the Libre Graphics Meeting will take place in Montreal on May 10-13, 2011.

Dave Crossland (davelab6) wrote :

A font tools usability review session at the next LGM sounds great to me :)

Nicolas Spalinger (yosch) wrote :

I don't know who from the open font community will be physically attending this UDS but a critical review and wishlist on the current state of the open font design toolkit would be most welcome: workflow, tips and tricks, expectations, frustrations, etc.

Also various elements currently forming the toolkit are cross-platform and can be used on Windows/OSX/Ubuntu.

There is some food for thought on https://wiki.ubuntu.com/FontDesignToolkit (although it dates a bit and much has happened since).

Bruno Maag (bruno-daltonmaag) wrote :

How long do you want this list to be? ;-)

I was hoping to be able to give a presentation on this issue since some people have complained that the fonts so far have been produced using proprietory tools. I guess the presentations will be streamed to the big wide world again, like in Brussels? And I promise I'll do my presentation on a Ubuntu machine this time.

Nicolas Spalinger (yosch) wrote :

That sounds excellent :-)

Looking forward to your experienced insights!

I think everyone may benefit from improvements of the overall toolkit.

Dave Crossland (davelab6) wrote :

A long list would be great! :)

Nicolas Spalinger (yosch) wrote :

yes, I agree with Dave, as long as your care to make it: big problems as well as small niggles :-)

Paul Sladen (sladen) on 2010-09-29
tags: added: ttf-tools
Paul Sladen (sladen) on 2010-09-30
summary: - What OpenType features FontForge is missing?
+ What OpenType features is FontForge missing?
Changed in ubuntu-font-family:
status: New → Triaged

Bruno, any luck with this list? :-)

summary: - What OpenType features is FontForge missing?
+ [nc] What OpenType features is FontForge missing?
Changed in ubuntu-font-family:
importance: Undecided → Medium
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