What does the the third letter in GIFT stand for?

by Michael S. Kaplan, published on 2005/03/30 03:05 -05:00, original URI: http://blogs.msdn.com/b/michkap/archive/2005/03/30/403636.aspx

Robert Scoble has a blog. Now he does not need me link to him, as he gets plenty of attention on his own. :-)

Anyway, the other day he made a post entitled 'Light blogging week, first look at Longhorn fonts'. In it, he talked about Bill Hill:

Today we're gonna take a hike around campus with Bill Hill. He was our first interview on Channel 9 (and still one of our most popular). His bit about why you should put only a single space after a period is still one of my favorites.

Don't know who he is? He's in charge of typography at Microsoft. You know, fonts and stuff. His group is spending millions of dollars in font and font-rendering technology. So, I'm sure we'll talk about the fonts that his group designed for Longhorn.

Ed Bott has the preview of those. He links over to a Poynter Online article about the new "C-fonts" designed for Longhorn.

Now I am not going to knock Bill Hill, he is a smart guy and he has a smart team. And he is an engaging speaker as Robert indicates. ClearType is a very cool technology, and my team works with his team on a lot of different things.

But he is not in charge of all of the typography that happens at Microsoft.

You see (over in another group at Microsoft) I am on the GIFT team, and GIFT does not stand for Globalization Infrastructure, Flowers and Tools. And that "F" does not stand for "Folk Singers" or "Fabulous" or "Freaking" or anything else like that. It stands for Globalization Infrastructure, Fonts and Tools. Because a few years back MST (Microsoft Typography) merged with some other folks under Julie Bennett to form the GIFT team.

Now the typograhy folks have a lot in common with those of us in NLS in that usually people do not really notice us unless something goes wrong. But their work is no less important, in fact I would argue it is often more important since the utility of collation and casing and encoding is pretty limited if you can't see what the characters are (only people on the NLS team get good at speaking fluent question mark or square box. And it is the folks in typography who have been making it all happen for a lot of years.

I could talk about the millions of dollars that they are spending on fonts in Longhorn for new languages (only some of which I can even talk about yet!).

I could talk about all the work they did for Windows XP SP2 to add suppport for Bengali and Malayalam (referred to in Lions and tigers and bearsELKs, Oh my!).

I could talk about all of their efforts for Sinhalese in advance of Longhorn (referred to in Doing a little more in Sri Lanka....).

I could talk about the next dozen fonts that they are working on for new languages in future Windows updates and in Longhorn.

I could talk about all of the free tools they release like the Web Embedding Fonts Tool (WEFT), the Font properties extension.

I could talk about all of the developer tools they release, from Microsoft Font Validator to Visual OpenType Layout Tool (VOLT) to OpenType Layout Services Library (OTLS) to Visual TrueType (VTT) to the OpenType Font Signing Tool to Font Properties Editor to the OpenType Embedding SDK to the many other font development tools

I could talk about the shaping engines that they produce for both Uniscribe and Avalon, that help make the most out of the new fonts for the languages that we support.

I could talk about how they own the OpenType specification, about which I know just enough to realize the extent to which I am "only an egg" compared to the typographers down the hall.

I could talk about folks like Simon Daniels who have spoken at GDDC and tons of other conferences and who I wish I could find a pointer to some of the slides he has done. Or better yet video of one of the presentations since you have to see him speak to get the full effect of the work that he describes.

I could talk about the large community of OpenType developers out there and the exciting work that OpenType enables.

I could talk about all of the OpenType training that they do, around the world.

I could talk about the cool font that they helped us to deliver for MSKLC that we use to give a visible display to characters that have no visible representation, from U+0020 to U+180b to U+034f and so on.

I could even talk about some of the many other issues that Ning, Simon, Paul, Peter, Ali, Judy, Carolyn, Julia, Cathy, Adam, Vinay, Dave, Mushegh, Nick, Sergey, David, Michel, or the rest of the typography folks are dealing with even as we speak to make the font story at Microsoft a good one, for Longhorn and for everything else.

Or maybe I have said enough to convince everyone that the "other Typography team" at Microsoft is also a place where important work is happening for Longhorn and beyond. Even if Channel 9 has not yet paid them a visit.... :-)


This post is brought to you by U+034f, a.k.a. COMBINING GRAPHEME JOINER.

# bg on 30 Mar 2005 12:18 AM:

although, it would be cool if the 'F' did stand for Freakin' ;}


# Michael Kaplan on 30 Mar 2005 5:54 AM:

Yes, that would be funny. I could suggest a new team meaning -- Globalization and Impressive Freaking Typography! :-)

# Gabriel Radic on 1 Apr 2005 7:21 AM:

Yes, but can you talk about when/if Microsoft will support the correct Romanian language diacritics? Cause that's long overdue, especially considering the OS that was actually translated in Romanian.

# Michael Kaplan on 1 Apr 2005 7:29 AM:

Gabriel -- You would have to provide more info on what you mean by "correct" (both what is happening now and what should be happening). I am not sure what issue you are referring to, otherwise?

# Gabriel Radic on 6 Apr 2005 11:59 AM:

This is a very old issue, and it was brought to Microsofts attention several times in the past. You were personally involved at some point in a forum discussion about this.

Anyway, the problem could be wrapped up to this: the default font in Windows do not include the correct romanian characters for S WITH COMMA BELOW and T WITH COMMA BELOW. See...

the Unicode specs

this guy's page

even the Wikipedia page

or the Goo... MSN Search results


# Michael S. Kaplan on 6 Apr 2005 2:45 PM:

Ah yes, THAT issue. As far as I know, the next version of most of the core fonts will have the bulk of the support for existing characters. In the meantime any font that does have them is supported on Windows.

The keyboard issue is a trickier one since existing layouts cannot change assignments. This will be harder to do something with beyond adding them elsewhere or adding a whole new keyboard, as far as I know. I will inquire....

# Adam Twardoch on 17 May 2005 10:43 PM:

I have written a bit about the "Romanian situation" in my recent Unicode conference paper:

The bottom line is that fonts should include a "locl" feature for the Romanian language that substitute the glyphs with cedilla by the respective glyphs with commaaccent. It's a bit of a hack but it works.


# Michael S. Kaplan on 17 May 2005 10:50 PM:

Well, that is one possible solution -- I do not know if that is what they are doing here, exactly though.

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