Beta test Bitstream Vera fonts available.

Alan Kay Alan.Kay at
Wed Feb 26 13:35:47 UTC 2003

This is neat, Jim!




At 8:15 PM -0800 2/25/03, <Jim.Gettys at> wrote:
>  > Sender: squeak-dev-bounces at
>>  From: "Andreas Raab" <andreas.raab at>
>>  Date: Tue, 25 Feb 2003 23:15:48 +0100
>>  To: "'The general-purpose Squeak developers list'"
>>  <squeak-dev at>
>>  Subject: RE: Beta test Bitstream Vera fonts available.
>>  -----
>>  Thanks. I've tried them out but the quality in small sizes is not overly
>>  convincing. I've attached a small picture that shows Vera Sans in different
>>  sizes (VeraSansStrike.gif). Since the glyphs were generated using Squeak (w/
>>  font plugin) I cannot judge the kerning (Squeak doesn't use the kerning
>>  pairs currently) but some of glyphs look problematic - for example, watch
>>  the "O" in line 1 and 3, the "b" in Line 2, the "ö" (o-umlaut) and question
>>  marks in line 4 the "N" in lines 5 and 6. The other fonts included look
>>  similar in quality; generally good fonts but somewhat poor at small sizes.
>>  I've also tried with Yoshiki's TTF support and it looks better, yet at small
>>  sizes it is too washed out (see VeraSansTTF.gif). So it seems that while
>>  these fonts are nice they aren't really as great in small sizes.
>>  BTW, someone wrote that these fonts are hinted - is this certain?! From the
>>  looks of it I see nothing that seems to go beyound regular drop-out support
>>  but maybe Windows (aka: the font plugin) is screwing me. I'd like to see if
>>  someone on a different platform can get "better results" than what I am
>>  seeing.
>There are no delta hints in Vera: they will not generate good bitmaps at
>small sizes.  They are intended for use primarily anti-aliased as we
>now do on Linux; antialiased, they do very well indeed at small sizes.
>Prima, from which Vera was derived, did have delta hints,
>but due to the procedure used to generate them, had bad results when
>imaged anti-aliased (alot of strokes went to zero width).
>(Bitstream has since changed how they generate
>their delta hints).  But Vera is otherwise nicely hinted...
>I use Vera very nicely on my iPAQ handheld at 6 pixels size :-)....
>For some samples of where things are at using all open source technology,
>see: and 
>  This is best looked at on
>a flat panel with typical horizontal rgb subpixel order.  Most things
>on those two shots are in one face of Vera or another....
>One is of my desktop (yes, I do have MS Office installed on my Linux machine);
>the other is primarily a waterfall display app of one of the fonts.
>There will be some additional work done on hinting over the next few weeks.
>You can see in the waterfall display a few characters need some additional
>TLC, as also you observed...
>Here's the scoop:
>Xft2 use Freetype for the basic rasterization; but that is just the start.
>Xft2 adjusts the hinting to keep things on pixel boundaries much more than
>Microsoft Cleartype does (which appears to at most adjust to subpixel
>bounadaries); we believe this is better, and I think the
>above shot of my desktop bears this out.  The resulting glyphs are imaged
>at 3 times the horizontal or vertical resolution (depending on flatpanel
>subpixel order and orientation), and the results used to form a glyph which
>is alpha composited to the screen.  This process Keith Packard calls subpixel
>decimation.  So we end up a bit less faithful to the font outlines, but
>less fuzzy than Cleartype (which is sharper than not doing subpixel stuff
>is in the first place).
>Xft2 will either use the X render extension for the alpha compositing,
>or will go down to pixels, alpha composite them to pixels extracted
>from the screen, and shove the pixels back to the screen if render isn't
>present.  All the code is open source (MIT  license).
>                                      - Jim
>Jim Gettys
>Cambridge Research Laboratory
>HP Labs, Hewlett-Packard Company
>Jim.Gettys at


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