FREELANCE FONT ENGINEER, UK
Flexible justification strategies for Arabic and beyond
Strategies for justification of typography in the digital realm, whether the output is the web or print, generally rely on concepts rooted in the European tradition of typography. Notably they are based on the common assumption that word spaces are variable, and that the shapes of letters and the spaces within words remain static. This assumption, however, does not hold up to scrutiny beyond the Western hemisphere. Arabic justification, for instance, also involves varying both glyph forms and their widths. Variable fonts also bring the possibility of performing justification through selectively expanding or contracting some or all glyphs. Although the OpenType specification provides for the ability for fonts to specify justification lookups, expansions and contractions, software implementation is lacking. We will discuss the justification needs of Arabic texts, and demonstrate a new justification engine which implements these requirements.
Simon Cozens is a freelance font engineer and typographic tools developer. He is the creator of the open source typesetting engine SILE, a truly multi-script layout engine; the author of “Fonts and Layout for Global Scripts”; and the developer of many scripts and plugins for the Glyphs font editor. In his day job, he is a missiologist and theologian, specialising in the pastoral theology of shame.