font management simplified (was Re: [OS X TeX] Trump Mediaeval fonts_

Jonathan Kew jonathan_kew at
Sun Oct 3 11:00:47 CEST 2004

On 3 Oct 2004, at 3:08 am, Scott Murman wrote:

> so this is the simplified font management?!!  am i only the one who 
> sees the font management setup as too much complexity for everyday 
> use?  i'd love to use wide characters and special ligatures and new 
> font descriptions, mixing them all like a night club dj, but i'm not 
> willing to go back to grad school to learn all the vagaries required 
> by different applications and installations.

Well, it *can* look a lot simpler in Xe(La)TeX, if you're happy with 
simple behavior. Let's say you want to print some text in Hoefler Text 
at 10pt, for example; you could just say:

     \font\HoefTen = "Hoefler Text" at 10pt

after which you can immediately use the new command:

     \HoefTen Here is some text that will be printed in Hoefler Text at 

If you wanted Small Caps, that would be:

     \font\HoefTenSC = "Hoefler Text:Letter Case=Small Caps" at 10pt

     \HoefTenSC This will appear in Caps and Small Caps....

Is that sufficiently "simplified"?

However, this gives you exactly what it says: a command that selects 
one face at one size. It won't interact with all the various LaTeX 
commands that affect typefaces, size, style, etc.; so any LaTeX command 
that needs to set the font (such as \em, \section, \textbf, etc, etc.) 
will revert to CM (or whatever other font package you had loaded). And 
don't even begin to think about math....

It's when you want to get a new font (family) working consistently in 
conjunction with the existing LaTeX commands that apply appropriate 
font styles to all sorts of different pieces of your document, without 
the need for you to explicitly set the precise font all over the place, 
that you need a more elaborate setup (i.e., the .fd file). There must 
be hundreds of places in LaTeX where it needs to choose a font on the 
basis of some piece of markup in your document, and the .fd file is 
needed to help tie all that to actual fonts.

What (some) people want, I think, is a XeLaTeX command such as:

     \NewFontFamily{hoefler}{"Hoefler Text"}

that will automagically do the equivalent of Bruno's .fd declarations. 
This is inherently difficult because of the wide variation in the 
selection of styles and features available in different font families, 
and the inconsistent organization and naming of those that exist. I 
have a couple of ideas of how we might make some progress, but there 
are limits to how far we can go, given the creative freedom that font 
designers have.


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