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Re: Advanced Font Features

From: Etan Wexler <ewexler@stickdog.com>
Date: Tue, 22 Jan 2008 16:05:43 -0500
To: www-style@w3.org
Message-id: <47965AA7.5080302@stickdog.com>

Christoph Päper wrote
(<http://lists.w3.org/Archives/Public/www-style/2008Jan/0375.html>):

> Font technologies like Open Type and AAT provide a number of advanced 
> typographic features  i.e. stuff known from print or handwriting, but
> uncommon to electronic typesetting.

It’s OpenType (no space in the name) and it’s jointly specified by
Microsoft and Adobe (<http://www.microsoft.com/typography/otspec/>). The
International Organization for Standardization (ISO) and the
International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC) have produced ISO/IEC
14496-22:2007, “Information technology — Coding of audio-visual objects
— Part 22: Open Font Format”. The abstract states, “ISO/IEC
14496-22:2007 defines the data format for scalable digital fonts that is
based on the OpenType specification, version 1.4.”
(<http://www.iso.org/iso/iso_catalogue/catalogue_tc/catalogue_detail.htm?csnumber=43466>). 


I read (in places and times now gone from clear memory) that it was the
intent of the editors of the specification of the Open Font Format to
produce a specification that would have exactly the stipulations of the
OpenType specification. I can’t vouch for the ascribed intent or for its
results.

AAT is Apple Advanced Typography and is a Apple’s technology
(<http://developer.apple.com/textfonts/TTRefMan/RM06/Chap6AATIntro.html>).

Another font technology to keep in mind is Graphite
(<http://scripts.sil.org/RenderingGraphite>), which is in development at
SIL International and is not proprietary.

> Not all of them have counterparts in 
> CSS yet.
> 
> Should they? How?

Cascading Style Sheets should enable fine typography with properties and 
values to cover all the typographical features of the so‐called 
smart‐font technologies. Cascading Style Sheets should not step into 
document transformation. For example, Cascading Style Sheets should not 
include a mechanism for transliteration, even though Apple Advanced 
Typography includes a mechanism for transliteration 
(<http://developer.apple.com/textfonts/Registry/index.html#Type23>).

For several years I’ve had some notes on what I’d like in a CSS4 fonts 
module. I’ll post them within the week.

> CSS would either provide a generic interface for selecting features by 
> the author or new properties and values would be inspired of what is 
> made available by the specifications (whether or not font designers and 
> text rendering library developers choose to implement).

The generic interface won’t work well, as my notes will explain.

The better type designers have been including typographical finery in 
their fonts for at least a few years. Popular text‐rendering libraries 
and interfaces have, I believe, supported that typographical finery for 
at least as long. The missing link lies in the popular user agents, 
whose developers should use these libraries and interfaces.

-- 
Etan Wexler.
Received on Tuesday, 22 January 2008 20:57:16 GMT

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