[Pkg-fonts-devel] New release: GNU FreeFont

Christopher Fynn cfynn at gmx.net
Mon Mar 31 14:39:31 UTC 2008

Davide Viti wrote:

> On Sun, Mar 30, 2008 at 09:34:38PM +0200, Steve White wrote:

>> There is a big difference in nature between an executable machine
>> binary and a ttf file.

>> A machine binary may be meant to do a complex set of tasks, but a
>> human's only hope of really understanding what it does, or changing
>> what it does, is by looking at the human-written source code it was
>> made from.  Compliling program source code is a loss of information.

>> In contrast a TrueType file is a description of how to draw a set of
>> characters.  It isn't textual but it represents all of its
>> information, and its format is public, and it can be edited by several
>> means.  And it is cross-platform.

>> Like jpeg, png, etc.

>> You don't insist on building all your jpegs and png files from source
>> (I think).  Why do you insist on building ttf files?

> I guess most of the concepts behind Debian are wery well expressed on
> various docs and I'd start from the DFSG:

> http://www.debian.org/social_contract.html#guidelines

> regards,
> Davide

It seems to me that in many cases the TTF /OTF files might be *better* for this 
purpose than the so-called "source" (SFD) files.

Geoge Williams, author of FontForge, wrote "I don't guarantee backwards 
compatibility of sfd files, only forwards." - IOW an up-to-date  version of
font forge may not be able to open a SFD file created with an earlier version of 

However I'm certain an up to date version of FontForge can open and edit *any* 
TTF /OTF font created with earlier versions of FontForge. IOW the actual TTF 
files are in this case *more* useful as source than the SFD file which may 
become unusable with newer verions of FF.

Unlike binary executables, font files themselves are pretty well completely 
readable and editable - any good font editor should let you open a font, modify 
it and regenerate it without loss of quality or information.  OTF / TTF files 
can also be easily converted to human-readable XML based format using TTX 
<http://www.letterror.com/code/ttx/index.html> and similar tools.
Fonts can also be generated / compiled from this XML format.

If I create a font using a comercial font editor like FontLab on a Windows PC or 
Mac and release that font under the OFL the FontLab "source" .vfb file will be 
useless to somebody running Linux - however the actual ttf or otf font file will 
work on Linux and the font file can be opened and modified using FontForge on Linux.

In other words the TreType or OpenType font files themselves are more open, 
cross platform, readable, modifiable and future proof than  "source files" from 
a font editor!!

- Chris

-------------- next part --------------

More information about the Pkg-fonts-devel mailing list