'crap cartoon font' (Part 2)

by Michael S. Kaplan, published on 2007/08/16 10:53 -04:00, original URI: http://blogs.msdn.com/b/michkap/archive/2007/08/16/4416440.aspx

This is one of many posts that was written around the time that TypeCon2007 was going on, and edited later.... 

This is a follow-up to part 1 of these bunch of posts....

In the case of special fonts that cover specific scripts (for example Aparjita, a Hindi font that is included with some versions of Office), the Latin script is not always included.

Now in theory this is not needed. If you have the font then since Hindi is clearly using Devanagari (a complex script), Uniscribe can be counted on use its own fallback mechanisms to find the Latin characters if it needs to.

In practice (doing a quick scan of one of my machines), fonts like Aparjita, Bold Italic Art (an Arabic font), various Deco Type fonts (also Arabic), various Diwani fonts (also Arabic), Farsi Simple Bold/Outline (more Arabic script fonts), the many Guttman fonts (Hebrew), Led Italic (more Arabic), MV Boli (Thanna), many PT fonts (also Arabic), many Simple fonts (also Arabic), TopType Soncino (Hebrew), and Utsaah (Devanagari), all of which contain no Latins, really are more and more in the minority.

In fact in Vista fonts like Gautami (Telugu) and Mangal (Devanagari) had Latins added, and as a general principle having the Latins in a font can be a very good thing.

Especially if the designer of the font made some effort to help the script in question work well with the Latins that it includes, of course.

One may wonder (looking at that huge list above) why it seems to common to create Arabic script fonts without Latins, and then thinking back to part 1 why so many of the Arabic script font coverage that does include Latin appears to work so poorly when combining the scripts.

Short answer (a guess on my part), it is really hard to get right, so most either don't bother or do it poorly.

Obviously this deserves a longer answer, though. :-)

That answer is that the first part is in large part correct -- it is hard to get them to interact properly.

But the second part is really not so true. There is just a case of conflicting goals to deal with:

Assuming that the third "goal" is not a target that most font makers aim for and concentrating on the first two, there really is no good way to do both -- the qualities that make one look better make the other look worse.

So how do you design a "good user interface" font that includes the Arabic script in Windows?

Well, mostly what is done now -- on non-Arabic systems, optimizing for the Latin or mostly Latin.

Unfortunately, even with an Arabic user interface language, the font choices don't seem to be optimized for the best Arabic script experience.

Now the problem is still a hard one, but people can probably do better here....

And note that we are not just talking about something as simple as developer choices for font selection -- we re talking about the way users will see their language when they look at mail or documents. There is a fundamental desire that people have for their language to not look terrible.

(I'll get those samples together soon, I promise!).


This post brought to you by ذ (U+0630, a.k.a. ARABIC LETTER THAL)

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referenced by

2010/10/14 Where'd that font go? Was it ever in there?

2008/12/03 Want to hear about a cool new typographic convention? Khmer, and I'll tell you about it...

2008/05/18 The song[ and the answer] remains the same

2008/04/04 Fight the Future? (#1 of ??), aka The inappropriate nature of getting the Feh out of Uighur

2008/02/06 The utility of a feature like font fallback in Uniscribe can often be somewhat obviated by its design flaw

2007/11/15 'But there's no Latins in our Divehi font, Duckman.' 'Well, they don't *speak* Latin in the Maldives, do they?'

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