WGL4 and Box Drawing -- seriously?

Discuss FontCreator here, please do not post support requests, feature requests, or bug reports!
Psymon
Posts: 167
Joined: Wed Mar 30, 2011 5:50 pm

WGL4 and Box Drawing -- seriously?

Postby Psymon » Tue Jan 24, 2017 3:29 pm

Hey there. :)

I've been plugging away at a font here for the last few months (off and on, whenever the enthusiasm strikes me) on an old blackletter font, based on an original 16th century font. It's been a lot of fun! The original font -- that is, the original text that I scanned -- only had the most basic characters, I was able to glean an entire lowercase set and most of the uppercase, but had to "invent" a few of the latter on my own to complete the set. And no numbers at all! I had to create those on my own, too.

And then I got really ambitious, and created complete Greek/Coptic and Cyrillic character sets, along with various math, etc. symbols and stuff. :)

And having reached that point, I figured what the heck, why not go all the way and make it WGL4-compliant? And so that's what I'm now trying to do, but I'm rather mystified about one thing -- the various box drawing glyphs. It's not that they'd be hard to do, but why on earth are they "required" glyphs for the WGL4 specs? I know word processing programs generally have the ability to draw boxes around text and stuff -- is that what those glyphs are used for? I had always just assumed that those programs just created them "on the fly," kinda thing (more like a graphics program would).

I guess I have no choice in creating them, if I want my font to be WGL4-compliant, but it just seems so weird -- are they really necessary? From the links I've found about WGL4-compliance, it does seem that they are, but I'm wondering if perhaps I'm misinterpreting those specs.

Thanks in advance! :)

Bhikkhu Pesala
Top Typographer
Top Typographer
Posts: 6808
Joined: Tue Oct 29, 2002 5:28 am
Location: Seven Kings, London UK
Contact:

Re: WGL4 and Box Drawing -- seriously?

Postby Bhikkhu Pesala » Tue Jan 24, 2017 5:50 pm

I think box drawing glyphs went out of fashion with Windows 3.1. They are really only needed in text only DOS programs.

Who told you that you need to make your font WGL4 compliant? I found this on Typophile.com

John Hudson wrote:The pattern pieces (line and box draw characters) were not intended to be included in all WGL4 fonts: they are only included in the spec for console fonts. This used to be clearer in early documentation of WGL4, which distinguished between the core set and the optional inclusions. Unfortunately, more recent documentation has omitted this distinction; I'm not sure why.

There really is no reason to include line and box draw characters in anything but a monospaced font, since they are entirely dependent on such spacing in order to work correctly. So, for example, of the ClearType fonts, which were based around the WGL4 set -- with some additions -- only Consolas supports these characters.
My FontsReviews: MainTypeFont CreatorHelpFC11.0 Pro + MT7.0 @ Win10 1703

honest.bern
Posts: 28
Joined: Mon May 05, 2008 8:28 am
Location: England
Contact:

Re: WGL4 and Box Drawing -- seriously?

Postby honest.bern » Tue Jan 24, 2017 6:09 pm

Nowadays, with sophisticated graphics programs, we might not need box-drawing glyphs, but in the past they were very useful.

In particular, I made heavy use of them in family trees. When you want a fancy family tree for display, then box-drawing glyphs would be too ugly. But if you have a tree with a thousand people in it (like my wife’s tree) you need a “one person per line” format. (The database takes in all your records and then outputs this dense format.) Every person’s record has the same height (one line). The box-drawing glyphs (including white space) all appear flush left. (The normal text, that is, people’s names and dates can be proportionally spaced, but this does not interfere with the lines of the tree because all the proportionally spaced text is on the right of the tree.) And so the lines all meet tidily.

Thus, for genealogy you need a font that will display all the names (including accents and accented capitals of course), numbers (for dates) and also plain box-drawing glyphs for the actual tree.

I suspect that anything else that uses these glyphs will also need them to be as plain as possible: the text may be a fancy blackletter, but these lines should be simple, straight ruled lines if you include them.

Psymon
Posts: 167
Joined: Wed Mar 30, 2011 5:50 pm

Re: WGL4 and Box Drawing -- seriously?

Postby Psymon » Tue Jan 24, 2017 8:18 pm

Bhikkhu Pesala wrote:Who told you that you need to make your font WGL4 compliant?


Well, nobody did, really. From that other discussion here that I started (re ligatures, as I'm sure you recall), in learning how to do stuff in the Glyph Transformer, I just happened upon the script in there for adding in the WGL4 characters. I'd never heard of that (WGL4) and so I searched on it and, from the wikipedia page on it, etc. it just seemed like it might be advantageous to make my font compliant to those specs -- especially since I was getting so close to completing everything else (apart from the stupid box drawings) anyway. It just seemed like a good way to get one's font more widely-used and accepted -- a bit like being able to say that the HTML and CSS for your website is W3C-compliant and validates and everything (maybe not the best analogy, but you get the idea).

This quote you gave was rather interesting, though!...

I found this on Typophile.com

John Hudson wrote:The pattern pieces (line and box draw characters) were not intended to be included in all WGL4 fonts: they are only included in the spec for console fonts. This used to be clearer in early documentation of WGL4, which distinguished between the core set and the optional inclusions. Unfortunately, more recent documentation has omitted this distinction; I'm not sure why.

There really is no reason to include line and box draw characters in anything but a monospaced font, since they are entirely dependent on such spacing in order to work correctly. So, for example, of the ClearType fonts, which were based around the WGL4 set -- with some additions -- only Consolas supports these characters.


My font is definitely NOT monospaced, that's for sure! ;) But if I'm reading that correctly, then as long as I can complete "everything else" (apart from box drawings) then I could still declare my font to be WGL4-compliant??? Like, it was basically an oversight in not getting rid of the box drawing requirement or something?

Also, from Bern...

honest.bern wrote:Thus, for genealogy you need a font that will display all the names (including accents and accented capitals of course), numbers (for dates) and also plain box-drawing glyphs for the actual tree.

I suspect that anything else that uses these glyphs will also need them to be as plain as possible: the text may be a fancy blackletter, but these lines should be simple, straight ruled lines if you include them.


I was kinda wondering about that, too. If I was to actually do up these box drawing glyphs, for this particular font -- which overall looks very much like it was "hand-made" out of metal type, full of rough edges and non-straight lines -- I would really hope that I'd be able to come up with box drawing glyphs that looked similar to that. I don't think that would be easy to do, to get things to line up nicely when used for actual "drawing-of-boxes" (etc.)! However, I have a lot of experience with making seamlessly-tiling graphics, and so I do know the steps involved in doing that sort of things -- it's just a pain. ;)

Alternatively, I was also thinking that perhaps I could "steal" the box drawing characters from some other freebie font (someone who doesn't mind that sort of "theft") -- these are easily the least important (and likely never-used) characters in my font.

Off-hand, do you guys (or anyone) know of a font that I could just "steal" the box drawing characters from, without any issues over rights?

Lastly, though, I suppose the ideal thing would be if I can just scrap them completely, just not bother with them at all -- but at the same time have my font still be WGL4-compliant. I guess the question is whether that quote that Bhikkhu came across is, indeed, accurate. I'd hate to finish up my font, submit it for sale on MyFonts (or wherever) and then be told "you need box drawing glyphs."

Or maybe I should just not give a hoot about WGL4 -- it just seemed like it'd be really cool if I could give it that designation. Perhaps it's not that big a deal, though? :?

PJMiller
Posts: 472
Joined: Tue Jun 16, 2015 8:12 pm
Location: Sheffield, South Yorkshire
Contact:

Re: WGL4 and Box Drawing -- seriously?

Postby PJMiller » Tue Jan 24, 2017 8:45 pm

Psymon wrote:Alternatively, I was also thinking that perhaps I could "steal" the box drawing characters from some other freebie font (someone who doesn't mind that sort of "theft") -- these are easily the least important (and likely never-used) characters in my font.

Off-hand, do you guys (or anyone) know of a font that I could just "steal" the box drawing characters from, without any issues over rights?


Please feel free to take any of the characters you like from my Kelvinch Font, it's free to download at http://pjmiller.deviantart.com/art/Kelvinch-Release-Version-600800030, by the way you can't 'steal' them because they are free.

I put the box drawing characters in there in order to be WGL4 conpliant but only found out that they weren't necessary after I had completed the font.

If you want any other characters be my guest.

But if you take the lot then I will expect some sort of acknowledgement in the documentation! :wink:

Psymon
Posts: 167
Joined: Wed Mar 30, 2011 5:50 pm

Re: WGL4 and Box Drawing -- seriously?

Postby Psymon » Tue Jan 24, 2017 10:09 pm

PJMiller wrote:I put the box drawing characters in there in order to be WGL4 conpliant but only found out that they weren't necessary after I had completed the font.

If you want any other characters be my guest.


Thank you! That's very kind of you and I may take you up on that! :) However, if I had my druthers I would just scrap them completely, not bother with any box drawing glyphs at all -- but is there any "official" documentation on that, i.e. that they're not actually required? So far all I've got to that effect is two people saying that on a discussion forum (one of those two people being your saying that here!). ;)

And does the same go for the "Block Elements," too?

And what about the "Geometric Shapes"?

Can I scrap the whole lot of 'em? That would be awesome! Like, with these latter shapes, in other fonts they seem so "perfect" (like a perfect square, perfect triangle, etc.) but with this blackletter font, I'd be trying to imagine how a 16th century metal type designer might create them -- and that would be hardly perfect (but rather quite the opposite, with little "serifs" all over the place 'n' stuff). ;)

If I can't scrap the whole lot of these latter, well, then maybe I'm just trying too hard to make this WGL4-compliant -- I mean, this is a pretty wacky-looking blackletter font I'm doing, and it's hard for me to imagine someone using it to make little houses. I was looking forward to doing up other things, though, like the "Miscellaneous Symbols" -- it'll be fun to come up with a "16th century gothic-looking happy face," etc. :D

Psymon
Posts: 167
Joined: Wed Mar 30, 2011 5:50 pm

Re: WGL4 and Box Drawing -- seriously?

Postby Psymon » Tue Jan 24, 2017 10:26 pm

Y'know what? Please don't shoot me for putting y'all through all this trouble today in answering my questions, but I'm suddenly thinking that this particular font is definitely NOT the font to try to be WGL4-compliant, and perhaps I should just be happy that I've got a "very" complete font -- it's just not "totally" complete -- and that's good enough (finishing up a few things notwithstanding, of course).

With that said, if perhaps anyone thinks it's worth still striving for, then maybe I will do so still -- I guess I'm just starting to think that "weird blackletter" isn't really meant for that (WGL4-compliance), though. :roll:

Still happy to hear anyone's thoughts on this, however, if anyone has anything else to share on the subject -- this discussion has helped, even if the end result does turn out to be that I just scrap the idea! ;) Much appreciated! :)

PJMiller
Posts: 472
Joined: Tue Jun 16, 2015 8:12 pm
Location: Sheffield, South Yorkshire
Contact:

Re: WGL4 and Box Drawing -- seriously?

Postby PJMiller » Tue Jan 24, 2017 11:32 pm

The point of WGL4 was that Microsoft were trying to get fonts to be compatible with Windows (back in the days of Windows 3.1) they made the list to specify the minimum set of characters which would be needed to be fully compatible with all the language settings which Windows then had.

Even when it was first introduced the Box drawing characters and the Block drawing characters were a hangover from a previous age (as were the upper and lower half of an integral because with a proportional font there was no way to get the two halves to line up unless you were very lucky. Also sone of the european currency signs were made obsolete by the Euro.

I still think its a useful minimum to aim for, just don't get uptight about getting them all.

Is there any need for your font to be WGL4 compliant?

And the benefits are :-

1. You can say 'this font is WGL4 compliant'.

2. It has all the necessary characters to run properly on a Windows 3.1 or Windows 95 installation (by Windows 98 they had worked out how to substitute missing characters).

3. err ... .. .

Dave Crosby
Typographer
Typographer
Posts: 783
Joined: Mon Feb 23, 2004 1:13 pm
Location: Enoch, Utah

Re: WGL4 and Box Drawing -- seriously?

Postby Dave Crosby » Mon Jan 30, 2017 3:45 pm

As long as a font does what YOU want it to and YOU are happy with it - IT IS PERFECT.

Perfect is Good Enough.
Aut nunc aut nunquam


Return to “FontCreator - Discussion”

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 1 guest