Where'd that font go? Was it ever in there?

by Michael S. Kaplan, published on 2010/10/14 07:01 -04:00, original URI: http://blogs.msdn.com/b/michkap/archive/2010/10/14/10074498.aspx

Over in the Suggestion Box, Beat Staunber asked:

Michael, remember this post? The big font list in Windows

What happened to the Arabic font Majalla UI? It no longer is shipped with Windows 7. I read somewhere it may have been merged into Segoe UI. Is that true?


Beat Stauber

I was wondering if anyone was going to ask this one!

The story I told at the top of that blog:

I was talking with Simon Daniels the other day and I asked whether there was some information about the fonts that can be used for each of the various languages and scripts supported by Windows.

He told me there was not, except for a spreadsheet he had (which he sent to me) which had a nice full table in it.

I asked whether there was anything that customers could look at.

His reply, I don't know to quite what to do with. He said they can look at my blog post that contains a copy of that table. :-)

was a true one, but after he gave me the list and gave me permission to write it up, there were some changes....

In particular, Majalla UI never shipped in Windows.

It was pulled out during beta but after that list was given to me, in fact.

I asked later when someone noticed the issue if I should change the blog and Simon suggested I leave it alone. For years no one seemed to notice.

Well until now, I mean!

Eventually that font made it back into Windows, though it was not technically a UI font, which made the name a bit odd.

But if you go to the Fonts folder and search for Majalla, you'll find the font:

Now Sakkal Majalla has some special characteristics to it, that I hinted at without naming a font, way back in blogs like 'crap cartoon font' (Part 1) and 'crap cartoon font' (Part 2) when in that second blog I said:

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.

Sakkal Majalla, like Majalla UI, is (in my opinion) about as beautiful as you can get in Naskh when it comes to a font that "can look good for all Arabic script (or mostly Arabic with some Latin script)".

Because it does. :-)

Now it does this by having a little more space between lines (good for when there needs to be room for ascenders and descenders) which can look a bit like double spaced text in pure English, but it is very natural for Arabic or even mostly Arabic text. And the metrics are such that there is not some awful space penalty -- it is designed the way good text ought to be designed....

Now it is Naskh, and I'll be talking about that issue soon. Stay tuned! :-)

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