[squeak-dev] Re: Font rendering

Steve Wart steve.wart at gmail.com
Mon Apr 27 15:30:44 UTC 2009

On Sun, Apr 26, 2009 at 7:19 AM, Bert Freudenberg <bert at freudenbergs.de>wrote:

> On 26.04.2009, at 15:04, Steve Wart wrote:
> Is an external dependency like http://www.freetype.org/ completely out of
> the question?
> Not sure what you mean. There is a FreeType plugin already.

Funny. I had installed it only 2 months ago and spent several hours trying
to get it to work/work well in Cobalt before deciding that Accuny looked
better than any of the several dozen fonts I scoured through. Don't know why
I didn't think about that before I posted.

I mentioned because I had been coincidentally looking at GLTT (for another
project) to render some TT fonts in OpenGL and probably read too much into
the coincidence.

It does work for some applications. But besides huge plugins in general
> being not in the spirit of Smalltalk, one of the particular problems of
> using FreeType is that it depends on external fonts. But platform fonts vary
> largely between systems. That breaks one of the core promises of Squeak,
> platform independence.

I think this is a problem for a lot of projects and maybe FreeType isn't the
answer. But it would be nice to have an alternative to the bitmap fonts and
the TrueType model is very rich (I don't know if it's rich enough for all
human languages but if there is another model that can live up to that
standard I'd be interested to find out more). Many decent free fonts are
available so I don't think external dependencies need to be an issue
(they're just data), but I don't understand why fonts tend to be a platform
problem. How is font rendering/lookup dependent on the underlying OS? Can
that dependency be broken?

> Now I know the "re-inventing the wheel" argument. Which is why we made a
> Pango/FreeType rendering plugin for OLPC Etoys, where we need to support
> many more scripts than simple TrueType rendering could do. But it already
> starts to crumble. OLPC defined a platform, so we could rely on the fonts we
> used being installed. But now that Sugar became independent of OLPC, there
> is no control of the platform anymore really. Which means it's not
> guaranteed projects will look the same everywhere. We have not yet found a
> cheap solution to that problem.

It does make sense in some contexts to do everything in Smalltalk. Clearly
changing the font model is a huge amount of work and there is a long legacy
of development that depends on fonts working the way they do now. But Squeak
has for years shipped with its own fonts installed, why do we need to depend
on the platform for that?

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