Mark Positioning for OpenType Hebrew

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Mike Thompson
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Mark Positioning for OpenType Hebrew

Post by Mike Thompson » Thu May 16, 2013 1:55 am

In the development of OpenType for Hebrew, the goals had a different emphasis from those in Latin. Consider that Hebrew has one ligature and only a few alternative forms. Biblical and religeous Hebrew texts need intensive use use of OpenType.

One goal was to allow for all Hebrew texts from antiquity to be stored digitally and faithfully reproduced in print or display. Hebrew texts were rendered into written form two thousand years ago or more and then for centuries canonical versions were developed aided by marks (accents and vowels). Reproducing these texts by computer was a mighty undertaking for instance see Ezra SIL: http://scripts.sil.org/cms/scripts/page ... rasil_home The glyph processing for Hebrew in Open Type was a part of this effort and Microsoft VOLT wasused. John Hudson was involved in this, see http://www.tiro.com

Most of the OpenType code for Hebrew is devoted to positioning the marks that describe correct pronunciation http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Niqqud and how to chant the scriptures http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cantillation

In OpenType these marks are positioned using the feature Mark Positioning <mark> and this positioning depends on the width of each letter and how many marks are needed.
Mike Thompson
Hebrew Font Design
http://hebrew-font-shuneet.com

Mike Thompson
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Re: Mark Positioning for OpenType Hebrew

Post by Mike Thompson » Fri May 17, 2013 12:04 am

After that background information in my previous post about OpenType and Hebrew in general, here are some personal observations.

Microsoft VOLT is an old piece of software and to my view it is quite non-intuitive. It would be great if Font Creator could come up with something better!

However 'Mark Positioning' of its nature cries out for a visual editing method
rather than writing code. If you have to position a mark (say an accent) relative to a glyph of a letter, there is nothing simpler than dragging it to the right place.

Despite that I have spent most of my life as a programmer and direct access to source code has great value. If there are many marks and many letters it may be faster to edit source code to define groups of marks and groups of letters and then use the visual editing to quickly check the results and tweak them with the mouse.

Here are the types of mark positioning I use in the Hebrew Font Shuneet.
For the VOLT feature 'Mark Positioning <mark>' most of the Lookups use 'Anchor Attachment'. There is one Lookup that uses 'Single Adjustment'.

I also use the feature 'Kerning <kern>' with all my Lookups using 'Pair Adjustment' and groups of Hebrew letters. I define groups of letters with similar left hand sides and different groups of letters with similar right hand sides and then pair one group with another.

All these OpenType features are implement well for Hebrew on Windows and the Mac.

Mike
Mike Thompson
Hebrew Font Design
http://hebrew-font-shuneet.com

Erwin Denissen
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Re: Mark Positioning for OpenType Hebrew

Post by Erwin Denissen » Tue May 21, 2013 9:11 am

Thank you for your feedback. We have added the requests to our to-do list.
Erwin Denissen
High-Logic
Proven Font Technology

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