Hebrew Sans fonts distorted in Feisty

Bug #107226 reported by Yotam Benshalom on 2007-04-17
Affects Status Importance Assigned to Milestone
DejaVu Fonts
In Progress
ttf-dejavu (Ubuntu)
Nominated for Feisty by Ohad Lutzky

Bug Description

After upgrading to Feisty, all Hebrew fonts from the Sans family (DejaVu, Nimbus, Bitstream Vera) look squeezed: lower and wider than they should have been, as if someone had sat on them.
This happens in Gnome menus and widgets and even inside OpenOffice documents, and makes the Sans family quite unusable for Hebrew readers.
FreeSans still shows Hebrew correctly, albeit somewhat smeared, but its Latin letters are not on par with DejaVu, Nimbus and Bitstream Sans.
This problem is reported by two users, <A href="http://www.tapuz.co.il/tapuzforum/main/Viewmsg.asp?forum=236&msgid=97191960">here</A> and <A href="http://www.whatsup.co.il/index.php?name=PNphpBB2&file=viewtopic&t=37949">here</A>here (both discussions are in Hebrew).
P.S. I use fglrx on ati radeon x1600, with a resolution of 1680x1050. Is there a possibility that the fault is caused by the fact I use a wide resolution? The Hebrew Sans fonts look like now like they were forced into a wide screen.

Tomer Haimovich (tomer-ha) wrote :

I can confirm. After upgrading my Edgy machine to Feisty, the Hebrew fonts changed. You can see the change in this picture: http://img168.imageshack.us/img168/3527/fontchangepr1.gif
The upper text was the Edgy font, the lower is the current Feisty font.

I'm using nVidia GeForce 6200, with the propriety nVidia driver, and my resolution is not widescreen (1280x960). Therefore, it's not a wide resolution or a video card problem.

Tomer Haimovich (tomer-ha) wrote :

I am writing this comment from KDE. Problem exists here too - can we eliminate pango?

Denis Moyogo Jacquerye (moyogo) wrote :

Assigning bug to DejaVu fonts since the glyphs show are from there.

What do you mean by "FreeSans still shows Hebrew correctly"?
What is not correct in DejaVu Sans besides the glyphs being wider?

DejaVu Sans Being wider is a feature, some fonts have wider glyphs for better readability at small sizes.
If you preferred more condensed characters, you can use DejaVu Condensed, but I strongly suggest using the autohinter.

Ohad Lutzky (lutzky) wrote :

Confirmed. The Culmus Nachlieli font still looks great, but isn't being used as a fallback. The font looks much worse in bold, by the way.

Yotam Benshalom (benshalom) wrote :

This problem is serious - it appears that there are no Hebrew readers in the DejaVu team, so they cannot understand that last changes made Hebrew fonts quite close to unreadable. Hebrew, unlike Latin languages, cannot be read in a satisfactory manner. I cannot use Culmus Nachlieli as well, because their English looks too ugly.

Bold Sans fonts are extremely wide in Hebrew. a bold Hebrew Sans string is approximately 20% longer (!) then an identical non-bold string. This not only interrupts with proper reading, but also distorts any websites using bold fonts (example: www.haaretz.co.il, note the blue links-bar below the title and the titles of the individual stories). I have mentioned this earlier several times in letters to the mailing list, but to no avail.
This problem does not exist in any other common font used for general display of Hebrew (Nachliely, Guttman, the MS family...). It does not exist in Latin letters used in DEjaVu sans, where the difference in length between a bold and a regular string is only about 5%, which is much more bearable.

Bryce Harrington (bryce) wrote :

Hi, it's been a little while since this issue was reported - is it still an issue with newer Ubuntu (like Hardy?) If so, if you think this may be an upstream issue, please file a bug with them and link to that report here via the 'Also affects Project' link.

Changed in ttf-dejavu:
importance: Undecided → Medium
Bryce Harrington (bryce) wrote :

Bugs about dejavu can be reported via their mailing list http://sourceforge.net/projects/dejavu.

Yotam Benshalom (benshalom) wrote :

Bug still exists on current DejaVu version (2.23). Reported on DejaVu bugilla: https://bugs.freedesktop.org/show_bug.cgi?id=14295

Changed in dejavu-fonts:
status: Unknown → Confirmed

Created an attachment (id=15454)
Narrower Hebrew characters in Bold

This is a test wit some narrower Hebrew characters in Bold. Not all characters have bee modified, for example ש <U+05E9> since it needs to be wide enough for compositions like שּ <U+FB49>.

Very nice work! It looks much better already. The work on ב, כ, ך and ק is especially noticeable and impressive. The spacing also seems to have improved greatly.
If you want to try and squeeze it a bit more, I think that ך and maybe ד can take some more narrowing. The letter ש, as you noted, is still problematic. I think it should not pose a difficulty, because bold font is very seldom used with diacritics. Hebrew diacritics are used in dictionaries, poetry, religious texts and children's literature, but not in titles. Also, in some fonts the diacritics in the ש are only partially seen (the dot touches the middle "pillar"), and this is perfectly fine.
Thank you for the good work!

Changed in dejavu-fonts:
status: Confirmed → In Progress
Changed in dejavu-fonts:
importance: Unknown → Medium
Changed in dejavu-fonts:
importance: Medium → Unknown
Changed in dejavu-fonts:
importance: Unknown → Medium
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