[smc-discuss] Preparing new version of our fonts

Santhosh Thottingal santhosh.thottingal at gmail.com
Fri Feb 17 20:52:14 PST 2012


It has been a long time since we updated  Meera, Rachana fonts. I was
working on these fonts and these are the changes I plan to release.
The changes are already in smc git

1. Important change is mapping the  chillu glyphs to the atomic code
points. As most of you aware, there was a very long debate on atomic
chillus, its pros and cons starting from 2005. Many of the active
volunteers of our team had expressed their strong objection on this,
but in 2008 Unicode decided to encode it. The issue of old form of
representation and new form of chillu are existing as pointed out
during the debates. And it is known issue now a days for any Malayalam
computing developer. There were a few other character additions also
happened to Malayalam unicode block(Such as half form of TTTA, NNNA
etc), which was also objected by some of our community members. The
points raised by the community is not ignorable and day by day we see
the issues. Even though the issues raised are not ignorable, during
the last 3 years, its relevance reduced because of wide spread usage
of new encoding along with old encoding in Web. Question of whether
the concerns can be addressed in bottom layer of technology(encoding)
is mute and the 'awareness' of dual representation should be at
immediate higher layers of technology- this can be glibc, cldr ,
language libraries if we are talking about general purpose software.
We faced a lot of heat for not supporting the new encoding in our
fonts, generally people ignore the reasons and just blame the
typographers. I discussed this issue with Hussain sir, and he said we
need to add support for atomic chillus and avoid the difficulties
faced by users.

2. Resolve small size issue of Meera. One problem with Meera font was
its relatively small size. Thanks to Suresh P, the size issue is now

3. 'reserved' symbols- Not an important issue,  but having these
glyphs mapped to valid unicode points were a bug in technical meaning.
I had removed some of these from Dyuthi recently.

4 DOT REPHA - 0D4E This glyph . This is what Chapter 9 of Unicode says
about Dot reph:

U+0D4E malayalam letter dot reph is used to represent the dead consonant
form of U+0D30 malayalam letter ra, when it is displayed as a dot over
the consonant
following it. Conceptually, the dot reph is analogous to the sequence
<ra, virama>, but
when followed by another consonant, the Malayalam cluster <ra, virama,
C2> normally
assumes the C2 conjoining form. U+0D4E malayalam letter dot reph
occurs first, in
logical order, even though it displays as a dot above the succeeding
consonant. It has the
character properties of a letter, and is not considered a combining mark.
The sequence <ra, virama, ZWJ> is not used to represent the dot reph,
because that
sequence has considerable preexisting usage to represent the chillu
form of ra, prior to the
encoding of the chillu form as a distinct character, U+0D7C malayalam chillu rr.

Meera Font had unmapped glyphs with dot repha and I mapped it the code
sequences as per the above definition.  The code point sequence for
ക്ക with a dot repha is  0D4E 0D15 0D4D 0D15.
And 0D4E is not a combining mark like ാ or ി

Rachana font does not have these glyphs already, so this is a todo
item for that font.

Hussain sir had suggested a variant mapping for dot reph - RA+ VIRAMA
+ CONSONANT . eg RA + VIRAMA+ KA + VIRAMA + KA becoming ക്ക with dot
reph in visual appearance. Seems logical, one issue I see is single
visual appearance mapped to two unicode sequences - well , that is just
like atomic chillu and zwj based chillu mapped to same visual

5. Minor changes in TTF Names tables to update email address of  Hussain sir.

6. Rupee symbols

There are some more changes Hussain sir wanted to see single consonant
signs for  VA+VIRAMA+ RA as in സ്വ്ര and ,സ്വൃ I think we can take up
them in next release.

The same changes need to be done in other fonts we maintain, and let
us plan it for 5.x releases.


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