Last week I focused on improving the outlines and spacing of the basic Latin character set (a–z and A–Z) in Cantarell regular. This is an important step before I begin tackling the accented characters used for extended Latin. This way, I’ll be sure that the accented characters are built using good quality glyphs as building blocks. Apart from the alphabet, I also reviewed and corrected the outlines and spacing of numerals and related mathematical signs.

I raised and attempted to tackle the following bugs:

Bug 702713 [resolved]
Stroke widths in uppercase of Cantarell Regular are not harmonized properly

Bug 702955 [no patches yet]
Outline of uppercase U needs improvement

Bug 702956 [no patches yet]
The uppercase S needs to be redrawn

Bug 702987 [resolved]
Stroke widths in lowercase of Cantarell Regular are not harmonized properly

Bug 703094 [one patch attached + committed]
Review and correct spacing of basic lowercase letters in Cantarell Regular

Bug 703115 [no patches yet]
Review and correct spacing of basic uppercase letters in Cantarell Regular

Bug 703166 [resolved]
Review and correct outlines and metrics of numerals in Cantarell regular.

Bug 703197 [resolved]
Review and correct spacing of numerals in Cantarell Regular

Bug 703260 [resolved]
Review and correct the outlines and spacing of signs used for maths.

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One of the first tasks I have begun to tackle in this internship is reviewing the support Cantarell extends to languages that use the Latin alphabet. There are several languages that employ the Latin alphabet (Omniglot lists over 300 of them) and Cantarell doesn’t support them all. Supporting each of those languages would not just be a monumental task, but is also not a necessity at this moment in time. What one needs really is for the typeface family to first support the languages in which people use (or wish to use) GNOME.

According to the localization information for GNOME’s stable release 3.8 (as accessed on June 18, 2013), out of the sixty most comprehensively localized languages, a little more than half—thirty-two—use the Latin alphabet. In its current avatar, Cantarell does not support all these languages. For some the addition of just a couple of new characters would solve the problem, whereas for other languages there are many more characters that are missing. Based on information collected from sources such as Omniglot, Micheal Everson’s Alphabets of Europe project and Akira Nakanishi’s book, Writing Systems of the World, I have worked out a simple spreadsheet that maps accented and other characters against the top sixty localized languages to quickly illustrate what is missing in Cantarell.

An in-progress screenshot of the spreadsheet: The rows marked in light blue do not use the Latin alphabet. The cells that are marked in red contain glyphs that are currently missing in Cantarell. Languages marked in green have full support and those in red don't. Bugs has been raised for the languages in blue cells, and purple means that more research is required before a bug can be raised.

An in-progress screenshot of the spreadsheet: The rows marked in light blue indicate languages that do not use the Latin alphabet. The cells that are marked in red contain glyphs that are currently missing in Cantarell. Languages marked in green have full support and those in red don’t. Bugs had been raised for the languages in blue cells. Purple indicates that further research is required.

This is work-in-progress. I am currently raising bugs that specifically list the glyphs that need to be added to the typeface family to support a particular language. Bugs for Danish, Slovak, Vietnamese and Serbian are already up, and a few more will follow soon. Once it has been ascertained exactly what is missing, I will get down to adding the required glyphs.

So many people around me love and work with computers and computer science that their passion has slowly rubbed off on me. I’ve picked up things along the way, and with every tidbit my fascination has only been fueled further. Lately, I’ve begun to feel the same way about FOSS. And just like computers, the more I’ve learned about FOSS, the more interested I’ve become.

In the last few years, there has also been an influx of work and commentary around “free” and “open-source” typeface design. It was, after all, only a matter of time before this movement caught steam; I remember reading the Free Font Manifesto when I was in undergrad. For some time now, I have been thinking about the intersection of FOSS and typeface design from the sidelines. Reading what I can find and engaging in the one-off conversation with friends who are lawyers or software developers who work in FOSS. When I heard about GNOME foundation’s Outreach Programme for Women (OPW), I thought it was a great opportunity to finally get my hands dirty and mind jogging.

Come June 17, and I will join a group of fifty-odd women from around the world to become a participant in the latest round of OPW. In my three months as an intern, I will contribute to further development of GNOME’s UI font, Cantarell (designed originally by fellow Reading alumnus, Dave Crossland). There is a lot I hope to gain from this experience. The first is, of course, the chance to work with and within an open source community and to witness, first-hand, how they operate. After consultation with my mentor Jakub Steiner, I have decided to work on Greek and Cyrillic extensions to the Cantarell. Working on non-native scripts is always a challenge, and it will be great to add to the limited, but growing experience I have with these two scripts. Through my interaction with the community online (and also offline if I end up attending GUADEC, GNOME’s annual conference), I will have the opportunity to be an advocate for good typeface design. Finally, being involved in the OPW will, hopefully, give me exposure certain to ideas in the FOSS community that could help me think more critically about typefaces, what they are and how they can be understood as software.

Once the internship starts, I’ll be writing here once every fortnight or so. And every now and then I will also cross-post to and from my primary blog, where I write about my typography, language and research interests.