Lots of info about Fonts

One of our users asked us to install some Greek fonts. We forwarded the request to gripe and got such an exceptionally instructive reply we decided to post it here for posterity.


We received this request from *********** ***********, one of our users:

I would like to install a new set of X fonts, so 
that I can use them with Framemaker and for 
printing in Postscript. These are Greek fonts.
I have a uuecoded/compressed/tar file in 
Is it possible to install them? 

Short Answer:

Not Frame Maker compatible. Not PostScript compatible.

Long Answer:

It looks like you folks don't understand the many and incompatible formats available for font files. I'll try to give you a quick lesson. Plus some places for additional information. If you'll uudecode, uncompress, untar that file, you'll see something like this

rwxrwxr-x 766/766       0 May  9 18:44 1995 greek_fonts/
rw-r--r-- 766/766   13344 May  9 18:32 1995 greek_fonts/courier.gr.elot.16.pcf
rw-r--r-- 766/766   24168 May  9 18:32 1995 greek_fonts/elot.14.pcf
rw-r--r-- 766/766   21824 May  9 18:32 1995 greek_fonts/elotb.14.pcf
rw-r--r-- 766/766   11600 May  9 18:32 1995 greek_fonts/etl14-greek.pcf
rw-r--r-- 766/766   12344 May  9 18:32 1995 greek_fonts/etl16-greek.pcf
rw-r--r-- 766/766   15052 May  9 18:32 1995 greek_fonts/etl24-greek.pcf
rw-r--r-- 766/766   16752 May  9 18:32 1995 greek_fonts/gallant.gr.elot.19.pcf
rw-r--r-- 766/766   23580 May  9 18:32 1995 greek_fonts/greek11x19.pcf
rw-r--r-- 766/766   27068 May  9 18:32 1995 greek_fonts/greek12x23.pcf
rw-r--r-- 766/766   29684 May  9 18:32 1995 greek_fonts/greek14x26.pcf
rw-r--r-- 766/766   20960 May  9 18:32 1995 greek_fonts/greek6x16.pcf
rw-r--r-- 766/766   21832 May  9 18:32 1995 greek_fonts/greek7x17.pcf
rw-r--r-- 766/766   20960 May  9 18:32 1995 greek_fonts/greek8x16.pcf
rw-r--r-- 766/766   23576 May  9 18:32 1995 greek_fonts/greek8x19.pcf
rw-r--r-- 766/766   21832 May  9 18:32 1995 greek_fonts/greek9x17.pcf
rw-r--r-- 766/766   14376 May  9 18:32 1995 greek_fonts/gscreen.b.14.pcf
rw-r--r-- 766/766   15916 May  9 18:32 1995 greek_fonts/gscreen.r.14.pcf
rw-r--r-- 766/766   14444 May  9 18:32 1995 greek_fonts/screen.gb.elot.14.pcf
rw-rw-r-- 766/766    1066 May  9 18:32 1995 greek_fonts/fonts.dir
rw-r--r-- 766/766   15984 May  9 18:32 1995 greek_fonts/screen.gr.elot.14.pcf
rw-r--r-- 766/766   15056 May  9 18:32 1995 greek_fonts/screen.gr.elot.16.pcf
rw-r--r-- 766/766     924 May  9 18:32 1995 greek_fonts/fonts.alias
rw-r--r-- 766/766    1009 May 12 10:09 1995 greek_fonts/README
Those .pcf files are X11 fonts. They will work with most X11 servers of R5 or R6 vintage. They will not work with most X11 R4 vintage servers. There are tidbits of information in the README file that will explain a bit about how you might use them.

Each .pcf files is an encoded bitmap of a font at one resolution. For example, the file greek7x17.pcf has a small bitmaps for the character 0-thru-255, plus some kerning information. With Frame Maker, you scale your image, you can rotate some things with the newer Frame Maker. You can show the page on your screen at 100%resolution, or 120%resolution and so on. A .pcf file is not quite adequate. A scaled bitmap looses lots of pieces of information.

Frame Maker does not use the native X11 fonts. Frame Maker has it's own scheme for dealing with fonts. If you'll look in the directory /afs/cs/local/frame/common/alpha/fminit/fontdir you'll see *.afm , *.bfont , and *.f3b files. The .bfont files are similar to the .pcf format files, but I do not know of any utilities that will convert the .pcf format files to .bfont files.

The .afm files are Adobe Font Metrics files. A font metric is only information about the size and width and kerning of a font. It has no information about the shape of the characters.

The .f3b file is perhaps the most flexible file. You'll probably also note that these files are also the largest. The f3b is a sun proprietary format that Frame has licensed. Sun used this format of font in their News window system. The f3b format can allow a font to be rasterized at different resolutions. So an f3b font can be used at 8pt on 100dpi screen, and at 72pt on a 1200dpi printer. But only if you have the right software, like frame maker.

None of our PostScript printers understand the .f3b format. Only a few there were marketed by Sun might have understood that format. Sun designed these .f3b files to behave very much like the PostScript fonts inside the most PostScript printers. But since Adobe was very tight lipped about their font technology, Gosling and crew at Sun invented this format.

No PostScript printers understands .pcf format files. Only X servers understand that format.

PostScript printers understand .pfa or .pfb (Type 1) format fonts. MicroSoft got pushy a while back, and they marketed many True Type format fonts, but usually only MicroSoft likes them, and upon occasion some Apple stuff when pressed likes them. Everyone else uses Adobe Type 1 format fonts. The heart of the difference between TrueType and Type 1 formats are the way that curves are represented. Microsoft claims that their curves take less compute power to produce, and have a just as nice look.

The X11R5 and X11R6 based servers also understand the Type1 format fonts.

Now that the Frame company is being purchased by Adobe, I suspect that new versions of Frame, (after Frame Maker V5) will use Adobe's Type-1 font Rasterizers, and will avoid using the old .f3b format fonts.

Let's see. Additional information. To start with, that README file in the uuencoded-compressed-tarfile above. Plus the comp.fonts FAQ probably at RTFM.mit.edu .
man page for mkfontdir.
man page for xlsfonts.
man page for xfontsel.
I could not find anything online on the exact format of .pcf files, except source code for bdftopcf .

Stuff I have in my office that you might borrow for a short time:
Adobe Type 1 Font Format V1.1, Adobe Systems Inc. Addison Wesley
PostScript language Reference Manual, Adobe Systems Inc. Addison Wesley
TrueType Font Files. Microsoft Corp

Plus I've some stuff somewhere about MetaFont fonts (used by TeX and company), Bitstream fonts (used by some X servers), and the stuff used in PDF format files (Adobe's newest document format language).

I'm sorry, but it strongly looks like you don't have what you thought that you had.

If you have additional comments or questions, please feel free to send mail to Help@cs.cmu.edu .

Dale Moore for Help@cs.cmu.edu

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