The syntax of \latinfamily

Lars Hellström Lars.Hellstrom@math.umu.se
Wed, 11 Nov 1998 19:30:53 +0100 (MET)

Invitation to some discussion:

I hardly use it anyway, but it has occured to me that the current syntax of
it is probably far from good.

What I think of in particular is that what little influence one can have
upon how this command combines glyphs from various fonts to make them work
with TeX, is exercised by adding an extra character to the family name. Not
having examined the coding in any detail, it seems to me that this must
cause the programmer (Ulrik) lots of trouble and at least seem highly
cryptical for the user.

I would believe that a more easily managed solution (that also has the
advantage of being more in the line of how fontinst generally works) is to
make a new command, say, \LatinFamily, that has three arguments: One for
the family name, one for the TeX code that end up in the .fd file, and one
for influencing \LatinFamily's actions. In this last argument, one should
not put single letters (these are not very easy to decode), but commands.
This way, one need not worry about decoding the user's arguments, the
contents of the argument can themself carry out whatever action might be
necessary. Furthermore, one can redefine commands, so that one user command
can perform different actions in different parts of the font installation
process, and commands that should not perform any action some particular
part of the installation can there be defined as \relax or whatever might
be suitable.

As we all know, fontinst already make extensive use of this trick.

Another advantage with having commands here is that one can easily supply
extra information, since commands in this third argument can themselves
have arguments. From the discussions in tex-fonts the last six months, I
have learnt that the main source of a euro symbol (which people are likely
to want) is the Adobe eurofonts, which are not connected to specific font
families, but which still exist in a few different designs, so that one
cannot simply use one eurofont with all font families (and expect the euro
symbol to look right). It therefore seems to me that this is a case in
which the user would want to supply \latinfamily with extra information
(which eurofont that should be used for the euro symbol), something which
is impossible (OK, one can use string variables, but that's kind of
cheating) with the current interface but quite simple with the suggested
\LatinFamily.

Now I don't know how much of fontinst that would have to be altered to
implement this and I wouldn't consider such a change in user interface
important enough to let it delay the next fontinst release, but I do think
it is something that would improve the \latinfamily command, so the
suggested alteration (or something similar) should be made, sooner or later.

Opinions, anyone?

Lars Hellström