Re: Encoding of symbols, and a "lock"/"unlock" pre-proposal

From: Eric Muller (
Date: Mon May 20 2002 - 13:19:19 EDT

Markus Scherer wrote:

> They had practical uses when user interfaces and display systems could
> not handle icons and arbitrary images, but those times are long over.

I wish this was the case, but most if not all systems insist that
graphics stored in a font be accessed as characters. This puts pressure
on encoding symbols.

 Fonts as packages of graphics are unequaled in some respects:

    * they support a unique combination of geometric and structural
      information (hinting); the later is vital at low rendering
      resolutions and gives the designer a say in what can be dropped
      and what should be preserved. Yes, the rendering resolution of a
      given system continually improves (e.g. printers, desktop
      screens), but at the same time we keep inventing new classes of
      devices (e.g. PDA, phones), where cost constraints put us back at
      low resolution.
    * they offer a convenient way to put multiple, usually related,
      images in one package
    * the publishing industry has figured out how to manage them (not
      that it's easy or that they got a lot of help...)

Of course, they have many limitations (e.g. monochrome, no transparency,
etc). Nevertheless, it is useful to package images for symbols in fonts.

The problem is that essentially all systems insist that characters be
used to access the content of a font. I don't know of any system where I
can specify a graphic as "this glyph in this font", on the same terms as
I can specify "this .gif".


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