[XeTeX] support for variation & multiple master fonts
jonathan_kew at sil.org
Wed Dec 21 00:06:04 CET 2005
An informal poll of user opinion:
How many of you care about support for AAT variation fonts (like
Skia), and/or Multiple Master fonts (MinionMM, MyriadMM, etc.), and
at the same time are *not* running Tiger (10.4.x)?
Bear in mind that (as far as I can tell) Adobe has dropped support
for MM fonts, and so there are not likely to be many more of them
appearing (and those that exist won't be maintained and updated). And
Apple has shown no sign of interest in continuing to develop the AAT
variation technology. So although XeTeX currently supports these,
they're looking rather like dead-end paths in the font world.
What I'm likely to do (as a consequence of other internal changes) is
to drop support for variations on pre-10.4 systems in the next update
of XeTeX. This is because I am changing the way XeTeX interacts with
the xdv->pdf driver, to make it more feasible to create a portable
back end. This may also, incidentally, help performance somewhat
(though I don't know yet if it will be a substantial improvement).
Unfortunately, the APIs that the new PDF back-end will use for
variation support are only available on Tiger, not on earlier
systems. So this means that, assuming I go ahead with this change,
variations (and MM axes) will no longer work on Jaguar and Panther
I note, in any case, that these APIs (despite being new on 10.4!) are
also already flagged by Apple as being "deprecated". While I don't
know anything about Apple's future plans, this does make me wonder
whether support for the whole variation/MM idea will eventually be
dropped from the system.
Sure, it's fun to be able to play with different settings of Skia --
I've used it myself in a few documents, and it's been neat to use the
width axis to fit titles neatly to the available space, for example.
And those of us who have the multimaster Minion and Myriad fonts no
doubt have our favorite settings. But as far as I understand it,
newer OpenType versions like Minion Pro are no longer MM; instead,
you get a range of separate instances. (Right? I don't have a current
Adobe collection to check this stuff!)
Anyhow, at this time I'd be interested to know whether people care
much about var/MM support, in particular on older OS versions -- how
many people will be impacted, and how badly, if it becomes a 10.4-
only feature in XeTeX? I know that's a fairly vague question, but I'd
appreciate any comments, either here on the list or privately.
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