W3C home > Mailing lists > Public > www-font@w3.org > July to September 1996

Re: pixel fonts

From: Kevin Hughes <kevinh@eit.com>
Date: Fri, 9 Aug 1996 14:54:45 -0700 (PDT)
Message-Id: <199608092154.OAA00982@harpoon.eit.com>
To: Chris.Lilley@sophia.inria.fr, www-font@w3.org

Chris typed:

> Treating a pixel font (or an outline font rendered with anti-aliasing) as
> an alpha channel rather than as image data has interesting possibilities,
> such as true antialiased text of any color on any color background, or
> foreground images on display type.

> ...

> If a proposal for pixel-based fonts was presented which addressed these various
> issues and was technically sound, I for one would certainly listen. I am the
> chair of the W3C Fonts Working Group, by the way.

	I can't say that these proposals are great, but they're the closest
thing to working out there now:

	http://reality.sgi.com/grafica/webfonts/
	http://www.eit.com/~kevinh/software/GraphicFont/

	And of course there's the LettError stuff too.
	From the WebFonts page there are many other pointers to ongoing work.
People interested in developing a real proposal should take a look at
these solutions first to gather ideas.
	Over the last few months my Java-based GraphicFont package has been
getting popular - people have been using it to make Java VT100 fonts,
Thai fonts, and German fonts (but all these projects are under development
right now, I haven't been given any peeks at anything finished yet). :(
	With the package, fonts are encoded in the GIF format, antialiased
text is supported, the alpha channel is supported, you can make text of any
color on any color background, adjust the antialiasing contrast, make
custom ordering of characters, subsets of fonts, etc. Comments and other
font information (such as kerning pairs) can be encoded in the comment
field of the GIF file, though I didn't implement this. There's no reason
why the format couldn't use PNG as well as GIF or any other image format
that uses lossless compression.
	There is no reason why the format could not be encoded in some
arbitrary binary fashion, but I chose to use a common image format so
it could be created, changed, and previewed without needing anything
else but a common paint program.
	To see how it works, you should get Netscape 3.0b6 for Windows95
and see the demo at:

	http://www.eit.com/~kevinh/software/GraphicFont/demo/

	It's a poetry reader that renders passages of poems in
a number of different fonts - Gill Sans, Garamond Italic, etc.,
antialiased and on different colored backgrounds.
	You may need to reload it to make sure all the fonts are
downloaded. Under the Borland JIT compiler Netscape uses, these pixel
fonts are rendered very quickly! Not having used a JIT compiler with
GraphicFont before, I was impressed the first time I tried it.
	I agree that pixel fonts are not the optimal solution for everything,
but in the meantime these solutions are good *enough* and they *work*.

	-- Kevin

--
Kevin Hughes * kevinh@eit.com * http://www.eit.com/~kevinh/
Hypermedia Industrial Designer * VeriFone Internet Commerce
Duty now for the future!
Received on Friday, 9 August 1996 17:59:23 UTC

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