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South Asian fonts

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  • Frederick Noronha
    Is the availability of South Asian fonts such a crucial issue as made out by this message: http://groups.yahoo.com/group/bdlug/message/14310 If so, what can we
    Message 1 of 8 , Jun 2, 2006
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      Is the availability of South Asian fonts such a crucial issue as made
      out by this message: http://groups.yahoo.com/group/bdlug/message/14310

      If so, what can we as a group do to improve the situation? FN
    • Mumit Khan
      ... First of all, some of the message thread you refer to is just about local acrimony, so please ignore that part. I see two major issues at play here: 1.
      Message 2 of 8 , Jun 2, 2006
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        On Jun 3, 2006, at 3:40 AM, Frederick Noronha wrote:

        > Is the availability of South Asian fonts such a crucial issue as made
        > out by this message: http://groups.yahoo.com/group/bdlug/message/14310

        First of all, some of the message thread you refer to is just about
        local acrimony, so please ignore that part.

        I see two major issues at play here:

        1. Lack of typographic and fontographic knowledge by the designers.
        More often than not, the fonts were designed by folks who happen to
        have computer knowledge or access to those who do, not by those who
        made a living designing fonts. This pretty much makes any originality
        in the font face a moot issue. Then there's the mathematical side to it
        - if someone starts with designing a typeface using Knuth's Metafont,
        chances are that its future TrueType/OpenType/AAT variants will be
        well-designed as well.

        "Thinking with type" has some interesting info. See
        http://www.thinkingwithtype.com/
        Fiona Ross' "The Printed Bengali Character and its Evolution" has some
        great stuff on Bangla script.

        2. Outright piracy, or the rubbery concept of borrowing ideas. That's
        the discussion behind the message thread you refer to. Sadly enough,
        some folks think that company going out of business means that it's
        intellectual property is up for grabs.

        > If so, what can we as a group do to improve the situation? FN

        Training, training, and training. Publish pedagogic materials and best
        practices. Get the major vendors to put in some real money (not crappy
        fonts they throw in just to say "we support a font for that script") in
        designing bundled in fonts.

        An unrelated, but larger IMO, issue for Bangla (and most of the indic
        scripts as well) is the absolutely atrocious code point design for
        pre-Unicode fonts. We're working on automatically converting the
        non-unicode font-encoded documents to unicode by crawling the web, but
        the sheer number of these undocumented encodings is killing us. This is
        a critical issue for the future -- any document that cannot be indexed
        by a typical search engine will be deemed lost on the web, and that's
        how languages start getting lost in the era.

        Regards,
        Mumit

        --
        Mumit Khan, Ph.D.
        Associate Professor of Computer Science and Engineering
        Head, Center for Research on Bangla Language Processing
        BRAC University, Dhaka, Bangladesh
        +88 (02) 988-1265 Extension 4019
      • Omi Azad
        ... There is no situation. I thought people know about it. But when I found they need to know what is going on, I explain the situation on the above link. ...
        Message 3 of 8 , Jun 2, 2006
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          Frederick Noronha wrote:
          > Is the availability of South Asian fonts such a crucial issue as made
          > out by this message: http://groups.yahoo.com/group/bdlug/message/14310

          There is no situation. I thought people know about it. But when I found
          they need to know what is going on, I explain the situation on the above
          link.

          >
          > If so, what can we as a group do to improve the situation? FN


          Everything should be under control now. :)

          Omi





          .
        • Frederick Noronha
          Dear Dr Khan, Thank you for your kind and detailed response. It makes a lot of sense to me. Yes, I am not talking about the angry words in the link mentioned.
          Message 4 of 8 , Jun 3, 2006
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            Dear Dr Khan, Thank you for your kind and detailed response. It makes
            a lot of sense to me.

            Yes, I am not talking about the angry words in the link mentioned. In
            a situation of scarcity, we will *all* be reduced to fighting among
            ourselves. When there is plenty, there's no need to fight over resources.

            I was wondering if we could do something to approach groups that could
            support the creation of more free fonts. I am not keen in undertaking
            any funded project myself, but if the skills exist to do it and the
            funding support is available (maybe from IOSN, IDRC or wherever),
            can't a group like this help to marry the two?

            We do have a problem of shortage of fonts, from what I understand, in
            a number of Indian languages too. FN in Goa, India.

            PS: Kindly visit http://feeds.goa-india.org for a number of RSS feeds
            related to GNU/Linux and Free/Libre and Open Source Software.

            --- In bytesforall_floss@yahoogroups.com, Mumit Khan <mumit@...> wrote:
            >
            > On Jun 3, 2006, at 3:40 AM, Frederick Noronha wrote:
            >
            > > Is the availability of South Asian fonts such a crucial issue as made
            > > out by this message:
            http://groups.yahoo.com/group/bdlug/message/14310
            >
            > First of all, some of the message thread you refer to is just about
            > local acrimony, so please ignore that part.
            >
            > I see two major issues at play here:
            >
            > 1. Lack of typographic and fontographic knowledge by the designers.
            > More often than not, the fonts were designed by folks who happen to
            > have computer knowledge or access to those who do, not by those who
            > made a living designing fonts. This pretty much makes any originality
            > in the font face a moot issue. Then there's the mathematical side to it
            > - if someone starts with designing a typeface using Knuth's Metafont,
            > chances are that its future TrueType/OpenType/AAT variants will be
            > well-designed as well.
            >
            > "Thinking with type" has some interesting info. See
            > http://www.thinkingwithtype.com/
            > Fiona Ross' "The Printed Bengali Character and its Evolution" has some
            > great stuff on Bangla script.
            >
            > 2. Outright piracy, or the rubbery concept of borrowing ideas. That's
            > the discussion behind the message thread you refer to. Sadly enough,
            > some folks think that company going out of business means that it's
            > intellectual property is up for grabs.
            >
            > > If so, what can we as a group do to improve the situation? FN
            >
            > Training, training, and training. Publish pedagogic materials and best
            > practices. Get the major vendors to put in some real money (not crappy
            > fonts they throw in just to say "we support a font for that script") in
            > designing bundled in fonts.
            >
            > An unrelated, but larger IMO, issue for Bangla (and most of the indic
            > scripts as well) is the absolutely atrocious code point design for
            > pre-Unicode fonts. We're working on automatically converting the
            > non-unicode font-encoded documents to unicode by crawling the web, but
            > the sheer number of these undocumented encodings is killing us. This is
            > a critical issue for the future -- any document that cannot be indexed
            > by a typical search engine will be deemed lost on the web, and that's
            > how languages start getting lost in the era.
            >
            > Regards,
            > Mumit
            >
            > --
            > Mumit Khan, Ph.D.
            > Associate Professor of Computer Science and Engineering
            > Head, Center for Research on Bangla Language Processing
            > BRAC University, Dhaka, Bangladesh
            > +88 (02) 988-1265 Extension 4019
            >
          • Fouad Riaz Bajwa
            Dear Fred, The issues at hand here in terms of the non-availability of standardized fonts for localization initiatives is definitely very true. We as a
            Message 5 of 8 , Jun 3, 2006
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              Dear Fred,
              The issues at hand here in terms of the non-availability of standardized
              fonts for localization initiatives is definitely very true. We as a
              collective lack certain skills for font design as well as sustainability
              options for such projects in terms of finance and continuity through
              intellectual resource retention.

              I believe it is prime time for us to identify and initiate a properly
              planned and funded project under the consortium taking standardized efforts.
              I have already received requests from Novell for providing localized
              versions of their Suse OS as well as we have open options for Ubuntu-Linux
              distributions.

              I believe at some stage we had to step in to this area, well why not start
              from now. We may have the options of working with either GKP, Hivos or OSI
              and as some of them are in India, they would be in a position to support
              such an initiative and we can launch similar centers in our regions of
              concentration?

              I will be at Asia Commons in Bangkok and I am sure you will also be there
              with us, let's take out some time and discuss these options. One thing is
              for sure, I wouldn't support the call for IOSN or IDRC since that would drag
              us back in to the Pan-Localization group that has already played its part in
              its own way. We have already received many directions from such initiatives,
              that's why we opted for freedom in our case and to share that freedom for
              all concerned in similar initiatives.

              We would have never gone for the consortium if the PAN-Loc had provided
              standardized fonts under FOSS terms in the first place. Since they have all
              the rights, they have tried to bring the open nature of fonts under self
              imposed copyrights and intellectual protection. We have to change this a
              bit, for all the regions we are catering to, we will have to initiate our
              processes and name the project "FREEDOM FONTS"

              Secondly, Fred, remember the area where I discussed issues about FOSS
              heroes, I think we should begin some concrete programmes so that all these
              localization efforts do receive the recognition. Its time we went for the
              proper funding options. I await your comments and recommendations.

              Regards
              -----------------------
              Fouad Riaz Bajwa
              General Secretary - FOSS Advocate
              FOSSFP: Free & Open Source Software Foundation of Pakistan R Secretariat

              -----Original Message-----
              From: Frederick Noronha [mailto:frederick.noronha.goa.india@...]
              Sent: Saturday, June 03, 2006 1:32 PM
              To: bytesforall_floss@yahoogroups.com
              Subject: Re: South Asian fonts

              Dear Dr Khan, Thank you for your kind and detailed response. It makes
              a lot of sense to me.

              Yes, I am not talking about the angry words in the link mentioned. In
              a situation of scarcity, we will *all* be reduced to fighting among
              ourselves. When there is plenty, there's no need to fight over resources.

              I was wondering if we could do something to approach groups that could
              support the creation of more free fonts. I am not keen in undertaking
              any funded project myself, but if the skills exist to do it and the
              funding support is available (maybe from IOSN, IDRC or wherever),
              can't a group like this help to marry the two?

              We do have a problem of shortage of fonts, from what I understand, in
              a number of Indian languages too. FN in Goa, India.

              PS: Kindly visit http://feeds.goa-india.org for a number of RSS feeds
              related to GNU/Linux and Free/Libre and Open Source Software.

              --- In bytesforall_floss@yahoogroups.com, Mumit Khan <mumit@...> wrote:
              >
              > On Jun 3, 2006, at 3:40 AM, Frederick Noronha wrote:
              >
              > > Is the availability of South Asian fonts such a crucial issue as made
              > > out by this message:
              http://groups.yahoo.com/group/bdlug/message/14310
              >
              > First of all, some of the message thread you refer to is just about
              > local acrimony, so please ignore that part.
              >
              > I see two major issues at play here:
              >
              > 1. Lack of typographic and fontographic knowledge by the designers.
              > More often than not, the fonts were designed by folks who happen to
              > have computer knowledge or access to those who do, not by those who
              > made a living designing fonts. This pretty much makes any originality
              > in the font face a moot issue. Then there's the mathematical side to it
              > - if someone starts with designing a typeface using Knuth's Metafont,
              > chances are that its future TrueType/OpenType/AAT variants will be
              > well-designed as well.
              >
              > "Thinking with type" has some interesting info. See
              > http://www.thinkingwithtype.com/
              > Fiona Ross' "The Printed Bengali Character and its Evolution" has some
              > great stuff on Bangla script.
              >
              > 2. Outright piracy, or the rubbery concept of borrowing ideas. That's
              > the discussion behind the message thread you refer to. Sadly enough,
              > some folks think that company going out of business means that it's
              > intellectual property is up for grabs.
              >
              > > If so, what can we as a group do to improve the situation? FN
              >
              > Training, training, and training. Publish pedagogic materials and best
              > practices. Get the major vendors to put in some real money (not crappy
              > fonts they throw in just to say "we support a font for that script") in
              > designing bundled in fonts.
              >
              > An unrelated, but larger IMO, issue for Bangla (and most of the indic
              > scripts as well) is the absolutely atrocious code point design for
              > pre-Unicode fonts. We're working on automatically converting the
              > non-unicode font-encoded documents to unicode by crawling the web, but
              > the sheer number of these undocumented encodings is killing us. This is
              > a critical issue for the future -- any document that cannot be indexed
              > by a typical search engine will be deemed lost on the web, and that's
              > how languages start getting lost in the era.
              >
              > Regards,
              > Mumit
              >
              > --
              > Mumit Khan, Ph.D.
              > Associate Professor of Computer Science and Engineering
              > Head, Center for Research on Bangla Language Processing
              > BRAC University, Dhaka, Bangladesh
              > +88 (02) 988-1265 Extension 4019
              >
            • Frederick Noronha
              ... these ... for the ... Okay, action initiated on that. Getting started is easy. Keeping things going is more tough! Please visit
              Message 6 of 8 , Jun 3, 2006
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                --- In bytesforall_floss@yahoogroups.com, "Fouad Riaz Bajwa"
                <bajwa@...> wrote:

                > Secondly, Fred, remember the area where I discussed issues about FOSS
                > heroes, I think we should begin some concrete programmes so that all
                these
                > localization efforts do receive the recognition. Its time we went
                for the
                > proper funding options. I await your comments and recommendations.

                Okay, action initiated on that. Getting started is easy. Keeping
                things going is more tough!

                Please visit http://wikiwikiweb.de/SouthAsianFLOSSHeroes

                It's a rough and dirty attempt at building a wiki page.

                Please also feed it with some more stories. Or, if you have
                suggestions on some good people I could write on, let me know. We need
                to ensure that we cover all of South Asia... not just India (because
                there are more people here). FN
              • Mumit Khan
                ... So true. ... For Bangla, what I d like to see is a truly beautiful font that is also open source. Now, that s going to require typographic/fontographic
                Message 7 of 8 , Jun 4, 2006
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                  --- In bytesforall_floss@yahoogroups.com, "Frederick Noronha"
                  <frederick.noronha.goa.india@...> wrote:
                  >
                  > Yes, I am not talking about the angry words in the link mentioned. In
                  > a situation of scarcity, we will *all* be reduced to fighting among
                  > ourselves. When there is plenty, there's no need to fight over resources.

                  So true.

                  > I was wondering if we could do something to approach groups that could
                  > support the creation of more free fonts. I am not keen in undertaking
                  > any funded project myself, but if the skills exist to do it and the
                  > funding support is available (maybe from IOSN, IDRC or wherever),
                  > can't a group like this help to marry the two?

                  For Bangla, what I'd like to see is a truly beautiful font that is also open source. Now, that's
                  going to require typographic/fontographic skills in addition to technical to get it right. We
                  may be able to find a funding source (IDRC small grants program for example), but it will
                  require leadership to find and manage the HR.

                  We need to put the art back in the fonts.

                  > We do have a problem of shortage of fonts, from what I understand, in
                  > a number of Indian languages too. FN in Goa, India.

                  Bangla is fortunate to have a variety of free OTF fonts thanks to the efforts by some
                  wonderful organizations and individuals (Ankur and Ekushey to name just two). There is
                  also a yet unreleased Rupali AAT font Rupali by Raiyan Kabir. I don't know the status of
                  other indic scripts though.

                  > PS: Kindly visit http://feeds.goa-india.org for a number of RSS feeds
                  > related to GNU/Linux and Free/Libre and Open Source Software.

                  Thanks for the pointer. Will do.

                  Regards,
                  Mumit
                • Mumit Khan
                  ... This must be in a context with which I m not familiar, but I am certainly interested why you think that IDRC will not be good funding source for this. I
                  Message 8 of 8 , Jun 4, 2006
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                    --- In bytesforall_floss@yahoogroups.com, "Fouad Riaz Bajwa" <bajwa@...> wrote:
                    >
                    > I will be at Asia Commons in Bangkok and I am sure you will also be there
                    > with us, let's take out some time and discuss these options. One thing is
                    > for sure, I wouldn't support the call for IOSN or IDRC since that would drag
                    > us back in to the Pan-Localization group that has already played its part in
                    > its own way. We have already received many directions from such initiatives,
                    > that's why we opted for freedom in our case and to share that freedom for
                    > all concerned in similar initiatives.

                    This must be in a context with which I'm not familiar, but I am certainly interested why you
                    think that IDRC will not be good funding source for this. I can say from personal
                    experience that there's been no conflict whatsoever in our releasing all of our IDRC-
                    funded work as open source or open content under GPL. In fact, IDRC encourages open
                    sourcing the software deliverables from its projects; Laurent Elder specifically brought up
                    this issue during the last partners meeting in Siem Reap.

                    > We would have never gone for the consortium if the PAN-Loc had provided
                    > standardized fonts under FOSS terms in the first place. Since they have all
                    > the rights, they have tried to bring the open nature of fonts under self
                    > imposed copyrights and intellectual protection. We have to change this a
                    > bit, for all the regions we are catering to, we will have to initiate our
                    > processes and name the project "FREEDOM FONTS"

                    It is upto the funded bodies to decide what license they'd use (to a certain extent), and
                    there's quite a bit of open source outputs from Pan Localization project. Perhaps you're
                    talking about font development specifically under Pan Localization, which I know little
                    about, so can't really comment. But I would request that you first see what licensing
                    restrictions, if any, are placed by IDRC before making somewhat leading remarks.

                    The term "freedom" in software has been an interesting and elastic concept since the mid
                    to late 80's. It's been bandied about in all sorts of ways, for all sorts of purposes.

                    Regards,
                    Mumit
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