3.1154 about fonts (254)

Willard McCarty (MCCARTY@vm.epas.utoronto.ca)
Fri, 9 Mar 90 23:03:21 EST

Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 3, No. 1154. Friday, 9 Mar 1990.

Date: Wed, 7 Mar 90 16:41:04 MST
Subject: Customizing Nota Bene Fonts (outside of SLS)

[The following I have plucked from the Nota Bene discussion group
because it usefully summarizes extensive experience with font
generators and related software for MS-DOS systems. --W.M.]

As a user of Nota Bene (NB), I am in the unfortunate position of
working with a group of languages that aren't covered by any one
SLS font, or even any set of SLS fonts. These languages use a
few too many unusual diacritic combinations, e.g., the vowels
with both acute accent and nasal hook. They also use some simple
characters not otherwise available like eng (n with a j tail), as
well as combinations of characters not available in a single SLS
font, e.g., both s-hacek and edh.

As many users of NB will know, this is not a fatal difficulty,
and with a little patience it is possible to extricate oneself by
creating one's own fonts (screen fonts and printer fonts) and
keyboards. The process is well documented in the Customization
and Programming Guide.

The purpose of this letter is to pass on the names several soft-
ware packages that I have found useful in creating new screen and
printer fonts in the past, plus some interesting new packages
that I have learned of since preparing my current fonts.

For creating EGA screen fonts I have relied on The Duke Language
Toolkit (DLT), which is a very nice font editor with a well-done
interface, plus a TSR to download the fonts. The DLT was
originally prepared and distributed by Jeffrey W. Gillette of the
Duke University Divinity School. It supports several types of
dot-matrix printers, too, plus the HP LaserJet series. It is
currently available from:

Academic Computing Center
University of Wisconsin-Madison
1210 West Dayton
Madison, WI 53706

This address is from an SIL publication cited below. I have not
yet had occasion to deal with Wisc-Ware, and I do not know their
terms. I originally obtained the program from Duke, and have
also obtained it from the shareware distribution service Public
(Software) Library (PSL):

Public (Software) Library
P.O. Box 35705
Houston, TX 77235-5705

The PSL disk number is 1228. SPL charges $5 per 5.5 inch disk
(add $1 per disk per 3.5 inch disk), plus a $4 handling fee (per
order of any number of disks). DLT is freeware, so there is no
additional registration fee to be sent anywhere. PSL publishes a
very useful monthly catalog and magazine on shareware.

I have recently learned of another EGA font editor called Font-
Shop, distributed by the Summer Institute of Linguistics. Font-
Shop comes in at least three versions: the original version,
which creates CGA fonts for use with the MS Word graphics mode,
and two new versions that handle Hercules Plus and EGA graphics
cards. For the address for those packages, see below.

SIL also distributes another similar package consisting of parts
called DESIGN and SHAPES. (Actually available from their sub-
sidiary JAARS - Jungle Aviation and radio Service.)

When I have created dot-matrix printer fonts for Epson LQ com-
patible (24 pin) printers in the past, I have relied on a very
nice shareware package called LQMatrix, programmed by Dr. J.
David Sapir. LQMatrix and a companion product for 9-pin printers
called FXMatrix are available as disk 1410 from PSL. LQMatrix
also has a nice user interface, and has more powerful editing
features than the DLT. I used this package successfully with the
NEC P2200 printer, which is an Epson LQ-compatible. There is
registration fee for these packages, if you decide to use them.
I believe it was c. $35 for LQMatrix.

Recently I have shifted to HP LaserJet-compatible printers and I
have had to change printer font editors as a result. What I have
been using to date is the SoftCraft Font Solution Pack (FSP), a
combined collection of most of the SoftCraft font-manipulation
packages for the HP LaserJet printer family. The FSP is a com-
mercial package costing c. $500 (plus handling, etc.), and avail-
able from SoftCraft:

SoftCraft Inc.
16 N. Carroll St., #500
Madison, WI 53703

It would be cheaper to order it through a discounter. Mailorder
houses carrying the FSP often advertise in desktop publishing

The FSP contains, of particular interest here, a Bitstream out-
line font of your choice, various sample bitmapped fonts, a ver-
sion of the Bitstream Fontware package, a font editor, a font
(word-processor) installation package, and some tools for trans-
forming bitmapped fonts into other bitmapped fonts. Using the
first three one can generate a family of new bitmapped fonts from
one of the Bitstream outlines, touch it up, and create a printer
driver for MS Word, WordPerfect, and Display Writer. Some
assistance is provided with other word processors, but no printer
drivers are generated.

The touching up process referred to above is not needed, of
course, if the fonts desired use unmodified standard symbols.
However, if it is desired to add exotic diacritics or a com-
pletely new character, the font editor can be used for this. It
can also be used to replace particular characters with bitmaps
from other sources. The problem is that this touching up must be
done separately for each font (each combination of face, style,
and point size). This onerous process can be reduced somewhat by
using SoftCraft's Font Effect tool (part of FSP) to generate
obliques (as substitutes for true italics) and bolds, by trans-
forming from a single base font. Such mechanically transformed
fonts are not as nice as fonts created directly from outlines and
edited by hand, but may be acceptable.

A particular advantage to the SoftCraft version of Fontware, the
outline scaler, to creators of exotic fonts is its ability to
create fonts with a user defined symbol set. Bitstream's out-
lines contain a number of characters for European languages that
do not figure in standard ASCII, and these can be included in the
bitmapped fonts that are generated. If one can get one copy of a
particular diacritic, e.g., a nasal hook or a hacek, on one let-
ter somewhere in the rough font output by Fontware, one can then
transfer it to other letters with which it does not occur in the
rough font by using the font editor to cut it out and paste it
onto the additional letters.

I have mentioned that the FSP's Font installation program cannot
generate printer drivers for NB directly. Although these drivers
can be generated by hand, it is easier to spend $65 on another
third party package called Lodestar, which is a printer driver
generator for NB and XyWrite.

Lodestar Communications Inc.
PO Box 2870
Canoga Park, CA 91306

Lodestar supports all members of the LaserJet family, though
there is no specific support for the new II-compatible IIP or
even newer III yet. It can take the fonts produced with the
SoftCraft FSP and assemble their descriptions into a NB printer
driver. The package is so easy to use that you can easily throw
together a printer driver for each particular purpose on the fly,
even from within NB, though I have never gone to that extreme!

I have recently learned of a better font generator tool that
could be used in conjunction with NB with the assistance of
Lodestar. This tool, distributed by SIL, is called the SIL
Premier Font System (PFS). The SIL PFS is based on Bitstream
bitmapped (not outline) fonts. It is best described by quoting
from and paraphrasing a description that has appeared recently in
a new SIL publication:

Kew, Priscilla M. and Simons, Gary F., eds. Laptop Publishing
for the Field Linguist: an approach based on Microsoft Word.
Summer Institute of Linguistics, Occasional Publications in
Academic Computing Number 14. ISBN 0-88312-637-0. $15.50 pb
(incl. postage and handling)

International Academic Bookstore
Summer Institute of Linguistics
7500 W. Camp Wisdom Road
Dallas, TX 75236

The relevant chapter is number 7. Other chapters describe Font-
Shop (mentioned above), a keyboard redefinition TSR, style
sheets, etc. The book is accompanied by a diskette containing
most of the software mentioned (though not, obviously, the PFS!).

To continue with the description of the PFS: "The system is com-
prised of a family of programs that produce fonts for LaserJet
printers from a collection of characters in four typefaces, in up
to four type styles (regular, italic, bold regular, and bold
italic), in 16 different point sizes. The selection of charac-
ters is extensive, including the complete IPA, a wide variety of
diacritics, and characters from various non-Latin scripts. ...

"... the package is available only through a licensing agreement.
[Price not stated, but I presently understand it to be about
$450] ... The most complete character set ... is available only
in the Dutch 801 (Times Roman) typeface. ... For information
about licensing arrangements contact:

SIL Premier Fonts
Printing Arts Department
Summer Institute of Linguistics
7500 W. Camp Wisdom Rd.
Dallas, TX 75236

214-709-2440; FAX 214-709-2433

"To install the complete character inventory on your computer
system requires 15 MB of hard disk space. However, a complete
system for just the Dutch typeface would require only 5 MB. This
could be reduced even further to less than 1 MB by including only
those fonts files for the sizes and styles required by your typi-
cal publication. ... the original font files may be removed
entirely once the printer fonts have been compiled."

The four typefaces available are Dutch, Century, Swiss, Freeform.
In addition it is indicated that there is support for Laotian,
Tai Dam, Devanagari, Ethiopic, Greek, Arabic, and Pi [sic?],
though no details are given.

The PFS is a font compiler. It works from two user-defined
tables, one of which describes the faces, styles, and point sizes
desired, and the other the symbol set. The individual characters
of the symbol sets may be defined as combinations of base charac-
ters and one or more diacritics. (Diacritics are maintained
separately in the PFS character database.) These combinations
are constructed on the fly as the fonts are generated; they are
only produced when a font for a particular use is generated. The
combinations are thus user-defined, and the same symbol set
definition table is used in generating all of the combinations of
face, style, and point size desired. This eliminates one of the
major sources of drudgery inherent in the approach required with
the SoftCraft tools described above.

In addition, though the package is described primarily as a tool
for generating HP LJ printer fonts, it also generates accompany-
ing screen fonts of various kinds. In fact, the package consists
of editing tools for preparing the two font description tables,
plus the filters VPJET, MSJET, DESFON, and TSJETC. VPJET and
MSJET prepare printer fonts, printer drivers, and screen fonts
for Ventura Publisher and MS Word, respectively. DESFON prepares
font descriptions that can be integrated with other SIL software
(DESIGN and SHAPES mentioned above) to create EGA/VGA and Her-
cules Plus screen fonts. TSJETC is a generator that supports
SIL's own in-house markup system Scriptset.


Any evaluations or recommendations made above are my own, and do
not reflect the views of my employers.