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[css3-fonts] Character Variant features

From: John Hudson <tiro@tiro.com>
Date: Fri, 23 Apr 2010 10:55:59 -0700
Message-ID: <4BD1DF2F.6080209@tiro.com>
To: www-style <www-style@w3.org>
CC: John Daggett <jdaggett@mozilla.com>, Peter Constable <petercon@microsoft.com>
I am discussing electronic publication plans with a scholarly publisher 
working in the field of numismatics and sigillography. They are involved 
with the Text Encoding Initiative[1], and looking at ways to tag 
significant variant letter forms in transcriptions of antique coins and 
seals, with the intention that through style sheets and font layout 
features they will eventually be able to display these variants reliably 
in electronic editions, using custom web fonts, while maintaining 
searchable text.

Looking at their requirements, and considering the needs of other 
academic publishers and scholarly organisation with whom I have worked 
or am in contact, I would like to request that support for Character 
Variants be added to the CSS Font Module draft.

Some background on these features:

The OpenType Stylistic Set features[2] were designed to address fonts in 
which sets of stylistically related variants were available. Good 
examples of such fonts are Adobe's Poetica, Linotype's Zapfino and 
Microsoft's Gabriola; these fonts all contain full or partial variant 
alphabets in which letters have stylistic similarities that make them 
work together as a set.

Although the Stylistic Set features have been used by some font 
developers to access individual character variants, rather than what I 
would consider sets, this was not the original intention of these 
features, which are not really set up for this purpose. Apart from other 
concerns, there simply are not enough Stylistic Set features to cover 
the number of individual character variants that a font might contain, 
and mixing and matching the features in a piece of text to obtain this 
or that variant of particular letters is impractical for the user.

To provide access for individual character variants, SIL and Microsoft 
defined the Character Variant features [3] (cv01 to cv99), which I would 
like to see incorporated into the CSS Font Module. I believe these 
features will be particularly useful to academic publishers and to user 
communities that have specific preferences for shapes of particular 
letters that might not be addressed via a font's Localised Forms feature 
: font developers can't know every character variant preference or 
associate them cleanly to specific languages, so a mechanism is needed 
that allows users to set individual character variant preferences at the 
document, paragraph or inline level.

John Hudson

[1] http://www.tei-c.org/index.xml
[2] http://www.microsoft.com/typography/otspec/features_pt.htm#ssxx
[3] http://www.microsoft.com/typography/otspec/features_ae.htm#cv01-cv99
Received on Friday, 23 April 2010 17:56:35 UTC

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