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02 May 2013, 15:34

Font boost for Linux from Adobe and Google

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Fonts icon The FreeType font rendering engine has been enhanced with a new rasterizer for Compact Font Format (CFF) fonts, contributed to FreeType by Adobe and Google. The new rasterizer details were included in the latest changes file for the beta version 2.4.12 of FreeType. The new engine is said to be "vastly superior to the old CFF engine and will replace it in the next release".

Currently though, the new engine is disabled by default and has to be enabled at build time. The code itself is described as a "mature beta". Google explains that CFF fonts place more of a burden for working out the display trade-offs on the rasterizer, more so than TrueType, and the new Adobe CFF engine for FreeType brings a higher quality engine to the open source font renderer, which is better able to make the appropriate trade-offs for a wider range of displays.

Adobe says that it made the contribution after Google asked it to help get an improved rasterizer into FreeType. As FreeType is used on not only Linux, but also FreeBSD, Chrome OS, iOS and other operating systems, Adobe felt it was an "opportunity to make CFF fonts look great on a multitude of devices". In examples, Adobe showed how the new CFF engine will avoid odd weight jumps, pinched or uneven stems, and distortion to give a "smooth, consistent, readable" font on screen.

CFF Engines Compared
Zoom CFF Engines compared - current engines on the left, the new Adobe engine on the right.
Source: Adobe

Developers wanting to test the new hinting engine will have to download the current beta from FreeType's Git repository. FreeType is licensed under either the permissive FreeType Licence or the GPLv2.



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