opentype ui

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opentype ui

Liam R E Quin
For some time i've been thinking about what a user interface to
opentype features could look like.

Probably the CREATE list would be a good place for a discussion (i'd
hoped to do something at LGM - maybe next year!) since of course the
needs of each program's userbase have to be met, not just one.

Today i came across this Web app, which gives a possible idea for
showing alternate glyphs, something GIMP users can't  access at all
right now.

https://alif-type.github.io/rana-kufi/app/

Click on the large Arabic text to see: a list of alternate shapes
appears beneath the selection. Sometimes there are many of them.

Of course, one might also want to say, in this font, always choose the
second alternate "w" glyph unless i say otherwise, so maybe a Font
Settings or maybe right-clicking on the alternates presented to select
"prefer this glyph design for this font" (always, or just in this
doc??).

Of course, writing code is another matter :( but if it builds on
harfbuzz and is a library then maybe all of gnomehood (or whatever)
benefits.

Inkscape already has some opentype feature support, but i don't think
there's a UI for choosing alternate glyphs, and i find it a little hard
to use, but maybe that's  just me. It's a start, at least.

What do you think?

--
Liam Quin - web slave for https://www.fromoldbooks.org/


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Re: opentype ui

JLuc
Le 20/06/2020 à 18:27, Liam R E Quin a écrit :
> For some time i've been thinking about what a user interface to
> opentype features could look like.
 > Today i came across this Web app, which gives a possible idea for
 > showing alternate glyphs, something GIMP users can't  access at all
 > right now.
 > https://alif-type.github.io/rana-kufi/app/

> Of course, writing code is another matter :( but if it builds on
> harfbuzz and is a library then maybe all of gnomehood (or whatever)
> benefits.

I'm not aware of any UI scribus has for opentype features
so it could be of interest for scribus.

JL

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Re: opentype ui (gimp-developer-list Digest, Vol 105, Issue 13)

Jim DeLaHunt-2
In reply to this post by Liam R E Quin
On 2020-06-20 09:27, Liam R E Quin wrote:
> For some time i've been thinking about what a user interface to
> opentype features could look like.…
> Inkscape already has some opentype feature support, but i don't think
> there's a UI for choosing alternate glyphs, and i find it a little hard
> to use, but maybe that's  just me. It's a start, at least.
>
> What do you think?


A long time ago, I was a software developer in the Type Department at
Adobe Systems, watching the type designers come up with the OpenType
font features, and watching the Adobe InDesign and other teams design
UIs to take advantage of OpenType features and to render text applying
those features. Based on that, I have a few thoughts.

If you are thinking about giving Gimp users the ability to take
advantage of the capabilities of OpenType fonts and their features,
that's wonderful, but it's also a major UI design challenge. I would
suggest starting with user stories. Who wants to use Gimp for this
purpose? In what language or script? Trying to accomplish what goal? 
Based on those stories, you can decide whether the right UI is to turn
on features and let the text rendering pick the glyphs, or to give users
a big palette of glyphs and let them choose, or some combination of the
two.

In general, good results from OpenType requires a cooperative text
layout engine that has language- and script-specific rules. Those rules
affect how it interprets the feature data in the font. Thus you
shouldn't expect, for example, that Gimp can have a language-agnostic UI
and text engine which will do a good job of such diverse scripts as
Latin and Arabic. You will need to do some language- and script-specific
UI and text engine logic.


> Inkscape already has some opentype feature support, but i don't think
> there's a UI for choosing alternate glyphs, and i find it a little hard
> to use, but maybe that's  just me. It's a start, at least.

In looking for examples and inspiration for user interaction design, I
would nominate Adobe Indesign as probably the best design for empowering
users to get good typography results from OpenType. Adobe invested a lot
of effort to get that right. But that design only covers a few scripts,
such as Latin and Japanese. It did not, in my time, cover Arabic or
Indic scripts equally well (though Adobe might have added that later).
Also look at LibreOffice, which has OpenType feature support which I use
and like.


> Today i came across this Web app, which gives a possible idea for
> showing alternate glyphs, something GIMP users can't  access at all
> right now.
>
> https://alif-type.github.io/rana-kufi/app/
>
> Click on the large Arabic text to see: a list of alternate shapes
> appears beneath the selection. Sometimes there are many of them.

This app provides a fascinating visual exercise. However, my
understanding is that Arabic script is basically calligraphy, only
somewhat constrained by mechanistic typesetting. I imagine there is a
lot going on with this app beyond choosing from a palette of alternate
glyphs. Getting good results requires knowing which glyphs to choose
from the palette.  Enabling users to get good results with Arabic script
in Gimp will require Arabic script expertise.

In sum: typography done right is a major undertaking. It requires more
than linking in a capable library and pasting on a simple UI.

Best regards,
         —Jim DeLaHunt, software engineer, Vancouver, Canada
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Re: opentype ui (gimp-developer-list Digest, Vol 105, Issue 13)

Liam R E Quin
On Sun, 2020-06-21 at 12:23 -0700, Jim DeLaHunt wrote:
> On 2020-06-20 09:27, Liam R E Quin wrote:
> > What do you think?
>
>
> [...]

> . Based on that, I have a few thoughts.
>
> If you are thinking about giving Gimp users the ability to take
> advantage of the capabilities of OpenType fonts and their features,
> that's wonderful, but it's also a major UI design challenge.

Note that GIMP already uses OpenType fonts (via Pango, which in turn
uses HarfBuzz) which includes the use of common ligatures and kerning.

But GIMP does not give access to features such as stylistic sets,
swash, native small caps, historical ligatures, and alternate glyphs.

We're asked most often for access to alternate glyphs and that's why i
started looking there, although controlling other ot features is for
sure a goal.

HarfBuzz doesn't support direct access to alternate glyphs, but the
development branch now does. Pango does have support for requesting
them, as well as for controlling other OpenType features.

> Based on those stories, you can decide whether the right UI is to
> turn
> on features and let the text rendering pick the glyphs, or to give
> users
> a big palette of glyphs and let them choose, or some combination of
> the two.

People buy (or download fere) fonts for graphic design work that
contain scads of variant glyphs. Sometimes these are available in the
private use area ("PUA-encoded") and sometimes via OpenType tables and
sometimes both. Actually and sometimes neither but then you're hosed :)

>
> In general, good results from OpenType requires a cooperative text
> layout engine that has language- and script-specific rules.
That's Pango's job and we have that.

> In looking for examples and inspiration for user interaction design,
> I  would nominate Adobe Indesign as probably the best design for
> empowering users to get good typography results from OpenType.

It's interesting to hear, athough we have to be careful not to copy a
proprietary interface too closely.

I kept goals out of my email partly because open source is often about
"scratching an itch" at least at first, and partly to hear from others,
inclding yourself of course.

Thanks!

Liam

--
Liam Quin - web slave for https://www.fromoldbooks.org/
Typographer, programmer, writer, analyst, teacher,
full-time slave in voluntary servitude

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