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Tsukurimashou 0.5

Fri 16 Dec 2011 by mskala Tags used: , , ,

This is an archived old announcement, for a version of Tsukurimashou that is no longer the latest. You can find the latest version in the Tsukurimashou project on Sourceforge Japan.

I've released a new version of the Tsukurimashou fonts (project home page). This one contains 776 kanji, including all those taught in the Japanese school system through Grade Two and half of Grade Three. The bigger news, however, is that I've also added a set of fonts for the Korean hangul writing system. Those should now be beta quality - you should now be able to write the standard modern Korean language in its entirety. Downloads: source code; precompiled fonts; demo PDF files.

These fonts are far enough along now that I'd really like to create a bit of "buzz" around them; that's part of the sneaky plan behind my recent technical postings about my experiences building the fonts. I'm hoping that a lot of people will read those, and, especially, share them on systems like Twitter and the other one. In the new year, after I've posted a couple more (I'm aiming for weekly technical postings), I'll evaluate whether they are attracting third-party traffic and whether I want to continue them. They take up time I could be spending on writing code, but having people use the software is important too.


Congratulations! A well chosen text, Genesis 11, 6-7. The real story is that a cabal of gnomes convinced the people to pretend they were building a tower to Heaven so Jehovah would be fooled into giving humanity the marvellous gift of languages. My only criticism of the French is that there is not enough air around the apostrophe in "n'entendent". French typography is more tolerant of blank space than English, indeed demands it. Axel - 2011-12-18 11:05
I'm not thrilled in general with the horizontal spacing of things that don't have much vertical extent - including apostrophes, quotation marks, periods, commas, and so on. Even in English there's often not enough space around those things; they tend to get kerned over-enthusiastically. An extreme case is at one point in the user manual where there's a period inside double quotes like "." and the quotation marks collide with each other above the period. Similar issues apply to some punctuation marks in Japanese, such as 。 (sentence-ending period, usually drawn as a small circle) which should have a fairly substantial built-in space after it and currently doesn't. These things will probably be improved in future versions; I'd like to first make the automatic spacer smarter, and second possibly do some manual overriding of its decisions. Matt - 2011-12-18 11:24
As a onetime lead type printer (I still own my own composing stick, as did every typesetter in the old days), I find it paradoxical that in some sitiations printers had more freedom with lead type than we do with digital type. There was a wide choice of spacing, from ultra-thin copper spaces to square em-spaces; so when a line was filled out to "justify" it (make it fit the set width of the text), artistic judgment determined what sort of spaces were used and where each would go. And for kerning there was the guillotine knife on a heavy stand that could shave off parts of the type body. Analogous improvements will surely come to digital typography. The history of printing is one of splendid periods alternating with ugly ones. Digital typography is already far better than it was in the 1960s when the big type houses started pushing expensive computerized systems - I was sometimes a freelance proofreader then and would tear my hair out when faced with computer typesetting. Things are looking up. Axel - 2011-12-18 18:08
Much of that freedom still exists, but we may be too lazy to use it. The hand typesetter was *forced* to choose the size of every space. In XeTeX, which I used to typeset that example you commented on, a command certainly exists for adding or removing space before an apostrophe (or elsewhere); the amount of space in my output is non-ideal simply because I didn't use that command, and in general I am not willing to spend time specifying an exact spacing for every apostrophe I use. I now have the expectation a hand typesetting wouldn't, that I should be able to only specify that there is an apostrophe after the n and the right spacing should just magically appear. But customizing every apostophe's spacing would certainly be possible if I were willing to put in something like the amount of labour an old-time hand typesetter used. The issue isn't that it's no longer possible to get it right, but that I'm not willing to work that hard. Is that my fault, the technology's fault, or is it even a problem at all?

The new technologies do offer some new artistic freedoms, too. For instance, some systems allow you to switch the font in a single line to one just a little wider or narrower, so as to achieve justification without only changing the spaces. That can look very nice when it's done right, and it can sometimes even be done automatically. It would be very difficult for a hand typesetting shop to maintain so many nearly-identical fonts (though I'm sure it has been done), and the worst part of it would be when you wanted to print your *second* such document and an apprentice had to separate out all the nearly-identical sorts into their correct boxes for re-use. Matt - 2011-12-19 16:37

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