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Revision as of 19:13, 17 February 2009 by Nim (talk | contribs)

A page of the Fonts Special Interest Group

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Many people ask what it would take to add font previews to different static contexts[1]. Previews are much more convenient for users than abstract text descriptions.

Here are the requirements of an automated font preview generator. If such a utility was available publishing font previews would be quite easy. Note that those requirements are different from the ones you want for dynamic previews[2].

A good static previewer:

  1. would take a variable list of ttf/otf/ttc/pfa/pfc/pcf files as input;
  2. would generate one small (size) standalone file as output;
  3. without requiring any other input[3];
  4. would give a good idea of the unicode coverage of the font files, probably using pangrams for the most interesting unicode blocks or script they include.
    • Wikipedia has a pangram list,
    • and fontconfig in fedora-devel has a command to detect the script coverage of a font[4],
    • …so it's just a matter of hooking one with the other[5];
  5. would generate vector shapes (probably svgz) so the preview does not degrade on high pixel density displays;
  6. would work with complex scripts such as indic, which requires using a shaper such as pango;
  7. would not embed the font files themselves, or be a conversion of the fonts to some other format, as this would result in hairy licensing problems;
  8. would be reasonably fast and not require insanely big or exotic software dependencies.

If someone is interested in working on this it can probably be a fun little project. If successful it would be used all over the place by all the entities interested in free/open fonts[6].


  1. Release notes, wiki pages, packagekit info
  2. Such as in a font preview application or a dynamic web site.
  3. Even if an option to force a specific preview text wouldn't hurt.
  4. $ fc-query --format ':lang=%{lang}\n' /usr/share/fonts/gfs-theokritos/GFSTheokritos.otf 
  5. Of course finding the right heuristic is going to be tricky, and pangrams do not work for CJK, and listing the full glyph list of a font is out of the question.
  6. Font authors, distributions, font web sites, etc.

Fonts in Fedora
The Fonts SIG takes loving care of Fedora fonts. Please join this special interest group if you are interested in creating, improving, packaging, or just suggesting a font. Any help will be appreciated.