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Re: [XForms] Font issues

From: Michal Szymanski
Subject: Re: [XForms] Font issues
Date: Thu, 29 May 2014 11:13:03 +0200
User-agent: Mutt/1.5.21 (2010-09-15)

Hi all,

I think the "font issue" is something to be resolved for the next
versions of XForms. For years, font rendering was occasionally pretty
ugly and unrepeatable when I used my XForms apps between different
kinds of Linux machines in server-client configuration.

AFAIR the library has no support for the modern system of scalable
outline fonts (TTF etc.) which are now predominantly used in Linux.

The bitmapped fonts look nice but only when there is no scaling and
the client machine has the appropriate fonts installed. I use Linux in
heavily networked environment (what, to my great concern, seems to be
less and less considered by OS developers who apparently want to make
Linux an ideal replacement of Windows single machine desktop). And
when one runs X11 app remotely on a different machine, it is not
enough that the proper fonts are installed on that remote server, they
should be present on the client machine also. So, adding a simple
dependency to xforms library (like "xfonts-100dpi" in Ubuntu,
"xorg-x11-fonts-100dpi" in RHEL/CentOS) will not suffice,
though I would go for it, at least it would fix the problems on a
single machine. One caveat - 100dpi is probably the most appropriate
choice but still there are probably machines for which 75dpi would be
better. Myself, I use 75dpi fonts for XForms even on HD screens, as
the text gets rendered nicer (for me).

Adding support for outline fonts to XForms would be a great thing.
Unfortunately, as for the fonts internals, I am no expert at all, so I
cannot volunteer.


On Thu, May 29, 2014 at 01:32:48AM +0000, Magnotta, Vincent A wrote:
> Jens and Oskar,
> This is just a guess, but I would bet that this is related to the
> transition from X11 to MIR in same flavors of Linux. I have not done
> extensive exploration of this, but I did notice that recent versions of
> Ubuntu lack fonts that had previously been installed with the
> distribution. The appropriate font packages can still be installed and
> readily be installed using your favorite package management.
> I would suggest that the project that Oskar is working on be packaged
> using a package manager and require that font packages. This would be in
> the spirit of Linux and would handle the installation of the fonts and not
> require Xforms to package and distribute fonts. Just my 2 cents worth.
> Vince
> --
> Associate ProfessorDepartment of Radiology
> 0453-D JCP
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> Iowa City, IA 52242
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> On 5/28/14 6:50 PM, "address@hidden" <address@hidden> wrote:
> >Hi Jens,
> >     thanks for your kind words. There are actually several application
> >available on Sourceforge, which I built using Xforms: Lxoskope,Lxascope,
> >Lxardoscope, Lxiggen and Lxsndtest, some of them waiting for an upgrade
> >after this font issue is laid to rest. And yes, you can use any of the
> >screenshots for your advertisement.
> >Regarding the "spirit of Linux", my concern is that Helvetica is a
> >proprietary font owned by Linotype. What we get in xfonts-100dpi is
> >probably an illegal knockoff, thus not really free. I guess this is the
> >reason it is
> >not installed in recent Ubunto distros and derivatives (like Mint).
> >Arial is another knockoff; I think we should not use Microsoft or Apple
> >proprietary fonts, and we should not ask the users to rip these fonts
> >from commercial software installations.
> >My understanding of what is happening behind the scenes is extremely
> >limited. There seem to be two systems for dealing with fonts, Xforms is
> >using the older one. Maybe by renaming an existing, decent looking, free
> >font to something like xforms-font we can avoid issues with name clashes.
> >Hopefully somebody else in the xforms community has some good ideas how
> >to deal with this issue...
> >Regards
> >       Oskar
> >
> >
> >
> >On 05/28/2014 09:00 AM, address@hidden wrote:
> >> Send xforms-development mailing list submissions to
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> >>
> >> Today's Topics:
> >>
> >>     1. Re: Font issues (Jens Thoms Toerring)
> >>
> >>
> >> ----------------------------------------------------------------------
> >>
> >> Message: 1
> >> Date: Tue, 27 May 2014 21:29:30 +0200
> >> From: Jens Thoms Toerring <address@hidden>
> >> To: Development with and of XForms <address@hidden>
> >> Subject: Re: [XForms] Font issues
> >> Message-ID: <address@hidden>
> >> Content-Type: text/plain; charset=us-ascii
> >>
> >> Hi Oskar,
> >>
> >> On Mon, May 26, 2014 at 07:49:40PM -0700, address@hidden wrote:
> >>>       after upgrading from Mint9 to Mint13, I noticed that fontsize
> >>> and fontstyle in my GUIs were ignored. Finally I took some time to
> >>> get to the bottom of the problem. My observations:
> >>> 1. Mint9 has the Xforms default font Helvetica installed, whereas it
> >>> is missing in Mint 13.
> >> Oh, that's not good! Helvetica was a bitmap font that was
> >> always available until now, as far as I know;-)
> >>
> >>> 2. When the default font is missing, another one is substituted
> >>> (which one? by xforms? by X11?)
> >> That's a bit of a mixture. The requested fonts are as "loosely"
> >> specified as possible, e.g., for normal Helvetica the library
> >> asks for
> >>
> >> "-*-helvetica-medium-r-*-*-*-?-*-*-p-*-*-*"
> >>
> >> with just the '?' replaced by the size. So X11 has a lot of
> >> leeway in selecting something. If Xlib still can't find any-
> >> thing fitting XForms switches to "emergency mode" and tries
> >> to use an already loaded font font with the nearest size to
> >> what the caller requested. And if even that fails it finally
> >> tries the rather ugly "fixed" and "6x13" fonts, which should
> >> always available.
> >>
> >>> 3. The fonts available to Xforms can be found using the xlsfonts
> >>> command or the xfontsel graphic utility.
> >>> 4. The Xforms demo fonts.c can be used to view the different fonts
> >>> with different sizes.
> >>> 5. Some of the fonts do not scale properly (for example 10 and 12
> >>> are same size, 11 smaller than 10).
> >> I guess that's some effect of using more or less randomly
> >> picked replacement fonts when the requestd font isn't avai-
> >> lable. But I haven't experienced that yet, on all machines
> >> I've used the default fonts of XForms existed. Could be that
> >> this is because I tend to install a lot of fonts when setting
> >> up a new machine;-)
> >>
> >>> 6. I can install xfonts-100dpi, which contains the Helvetica font.
> >>> However this is really against the spirit of Linux; I guess that's
> >>> why the font was removed in later versions of the Mint distro.
> >> What do you consider to be against the "spirit of Linux"? As far
> >> as I can tell I've never seen a machine with X11, be it Linux or
> >> other types of UNIX, that hadn't had a 100dpi (and 75dpi) font
> >> directory (some without too many others;-). My silent assump-
> >> tion until today has been that these are an integral part of
> >> an X11 installation. My Xlib programming manual lists '100dpi',
> >> '75dpi' and 'misc' as *the* directories where fonts are to be
> >> found (ok, the precise location has changed a bit over the
> >> years). So I would consider it a mistake by Mint to not in-
> >> stall these fonts by default - who knows how many programs
> >> they're breaking for saving a measly 13MB?
> >>
> >>> Here comes my question: would it be possible to include a free
> >>> default font with Xforms, such that GUIs look the same on all
> >>> distros? Some designers spend a lot of time arranging the widgets to
> >>> produce something nice, but if the particular font is missing, then
> >>> this effort can be wasted, and the GUI may look terrible. Any other
> >>> ideas how to deal with font issues?
> >> I can fully understand your point if view when I see how nice
> >> your Lxardoscope looks like (for those not having seen it have
> >> a look at <http://www.elecfreaks.com/2042.html>). As an aside,
> >> would you allow me to use it for the screenshot page on
> >> <http://xforms-toolkit.org>?
> >>
> >> What I would be most concerned about here is that I have no good
> >> idea what the consequences of something like that would be. As far
> >> as I can see We would have to do at least
> >>
> >> a) copy the fonts to some place, perhaps /usr/local/fonts/XForms?
> >> b) modify the font path. Were do I set it? It could be in lots
> >>     of different places and I have no idea of any reliable way to
> >>     find it out. 'xset +fb path' won't do since, as far as I know,
> >>     it stays only that way for the duration of an Xsession. I'm also
> >>     not sure if modifying the font path behind the users back is the
> >>     right thing to do...
> >> c) run font configure, i.e., 'fc-cache -f'. But do all systems do
> >>     it that way?
> >>
> >> As you can see this seems to me to be rather complicatd to do cor-
> >> rectly for all possible systems. I'm also not convinced that it's
> >> fitting for a library that just uses fonts to mess around with the
> >> font settings, which could affect other applications unless done
> >> 100% right.
> >>
> >> I would tend to prefer to restrict XForms to clearly mention in the
> >> documentation that some additional font packages might be required
> >> and perhaps try to convince distributors to automatically install
> >> them with XForms (I've got to find out if this can be done via some
> >> entries in the libforms.spec file).
> >>
> >> What do you think?
> >>                                 Best regards, Jens
> >
> >
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  Michal Szymanski (msz at astrouw dot edu dot pl)
  Warsaw University Observatory, Warszawa, POLAND

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