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Unicode Font


This essay does not describe an existing computer program, just one that should exist. This essay is about a suggested student project in Java programming. This essay gives a rough overview of how it might work. I have no source, object, specifications, file layouts or anything else useful to implementing this project. Everything I have prepared to help you is right here.

This project outline is not like the artificial, tidy little problems you are spoon-fed in school, when all the facts you need are included, nothing extraneous is mentioned, the answer is fully specified, along with hints to nudge you toward a single expected canonical solution. This project is much more like the real world of messy problems where it is up to you to fully the define the end point, or a series of ever more difficult versions of this project and research the information yourself to solve them.

Everything I have to say to help you with this project is written below. I am not prepared to help you implement it; or give you any additional materials. I have too many other projects of my own.

Though I am a programmer by profession, I don’t do people’s homework for them. That just robs them of an education.

You have my full permission to implement this project in any way you please and to keep all the profits from your endeavour.

Please do not email me about this project without reading the disclaimer above.

This is a team project. What the world needs is a giant font that covers all the printable characters in 16-bit Unicode perhaps leaving out the massive Han unified Chinese part. It could act as a font of last resort to fill in the unusual characters when the preferred font does not support them. If you use a team of people, how can you ensure all the characters have a uniform style? I suggest an approach of defining character skeletons, then fleshing them out mathematically. That way you can generate many variant fonts that look quite different, e.g. with/without serifs, with flattened or rounded loops, delicate or robust…

The Unicode consortium have prepared a set of glyphs, but they forbid you from converting them into a font. In any case they are too crude for a font. Glyphs must be legible and distinct. The font does not have to be beautiful to be useful.

You might have to create drawing tool for creating the abstract skeletons, or they may exist already. You might have to create tools to mathematically render the skeletons, or it may already exist. You might be able to talk software vendors into adding the features you need for your project. You might flesh out glyphs by thinking of them as inflatables or as wire frames in space covered in some viscous liquid. Start with something fun like 0x2700 to 0x27bf to prove the concept. If it succeeds, tackle selected 32 bit Unicode ranges too.

You might be able to abstract the skeletons from existing public domain fonts to save you some work.

The closest real-world font to this ideal is Italian designer Fabrizio Schiavi’s Pragmata Pro.

It supports the obscure punctuation, Esperanto, Kanji, symbols, arrows, currency symbol, accented letters, Hebrew, Arabic, Cyrillic, Bopomofo (phonetic Chinese), Greek, East European, old German Fraktur (beloved of mathematicians), APL (A Programming Language), Agda (an obscure programming language with its own symbol set), phonetics, box drawing… Even the obscure Esperanto accented letters are in same style as the main ones, not borrowed from another similar font as is sometimes done.

It is hand designed and hand-hinted. It is not particularly beautiful, but it is highly legible and compact, both horizontally and vertically.

You might crowd source on this one to hire a professional font designer to polish the common glyphs by hand and perhaps to give some overall direction.

Bezier curve
Font Creator
Font Lab
Multiple Master fonts
Pragmata Pro

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