where to begin creating ARABIC font? any suggestions?

irf2k's picture

ok, i recently downloaded the fontlab demo, but it didn't come with any help files AT ALL. I mean it doesn't even explain how the program works (i guess im used to programs like Maya and those in the Macromedia studio that teach you the basics).
1. So, my first question is, does the actual product come with support?

and my second would be
2. Is there some tutorial on the web where I can master the basics? I don't need to know much about design, since I already have bitmaps of the characters I want to create. I just need to know how to add in some of the features that go with an arabic font such as...

1. Glyph Variants: In arabic, each letter has three different forms depending on its position in the word (initial, medial, final), as well as a fourth "isolated" form. I need to know how to add in these forms.

2. I need to be able to add Diacritic Marks (vowels/markings that go above each letter)

3. I need to be able to add ligatures, a combination of glyphs to form one glyph (some letters, when placed next to others, form one character in Arabic).

I know that features 1 and 3 are possible, especially since they exist in Times New Roman (in the arabic part, as listed in the character map).
I also know that I have to use OTLS (Open Type Library Services) to Shape and Position the glyphs. But what I need to know is how to do this with FONTLAB OR ANY OTHER FONT PROGRAM.
So, if anyone knows of any tutorials which explain this, or programs that come with support explaining this, I would appreciate it if they could let me know about it.
Oh, and if you find it odd that I'm just starting to create fonts and yet I already can use big words like Open Type Font Library, I just stole that from here: http://www.microsoft.com/typography/OpenType%20Dev/arabic/shaping.mspx.
ANY HELP would be appreciated.
Thanks

david h's picture

[sorry. edit problem]

Si_Daniels's picture

Going from zero to making a full feature Arabic font is going to be hard. I'd be inclined to start by reading as much as you can on OpenType and then start making some small test fonts, Latin based, in FontLab and in VOLT so you can get the hang of how OpenType works, testing the results in InDesign. Only after you're comfortable with OT from a Latin perspective would I suggest moving on to Arabic. Currently making an Arabic OT font requires using VOLT, but there are a number of Arabic fonts containing VOLT "sources" that will help you get started.

irf2k's picture

hmm, ya, i guess going from scratch to something as complicated as an arabic font would be somewhat of a challenge...
i was told, however (from other sources), that FontLab should be able to do what I need for an Arabic font (that is glyph variants and diacratic marks) but I guess VOLT (as the full name would suggest) is what I need for an Open Type Layout Table.
So, I'll begin working with Latin OT fonts in FontLab and when I'm proficient with those, I'll move on.
Thanks for your help, much appreciated.
irf2k

twardoch's picture

> i recently downloaded the fontlab demo,
> but it didn’t come with any help files
> AT ALL.

You mean, other than the 700+ pages manual for FontLab 4.6, or the 900+ pages manual for Fontlab Studio 5, both being available for free from our website in PDF format? :)

http://www.fontlab.com/FontLab-Studio/FontLab-Studio/Download-FontLab-St...
http://www.fontlab.com/FontLab-4.6/FontLab-4.6/Download-FontLab-4.6/

> does the actual product come with support?

Sure. :)

> Is there some tutorial on the web where I can master the basics?

I suggest getting the book "Learn FontLab Fast":
http://www.logofontandlettering.com/

Then, I suggest looking at my post at:
http://groups.msn.com/FontLab/general.msnw?action=get_message&mview=0&ID...

And then, you're welcome to ask specific questions on the FontLab forum or here or using http://www.fontlab.com/support/

Regards,
Adam Twardoch
Fontlab Ltd.

irf2k's picture

ok, i shamefacedly admit i messed up on the whole 900+ page fontlab tutorial (which i have now downloaded and gone through half of). I do have a few questions though, just basic ones regarding how to make drawing the glyphs simpler. However, I will search for this first and then, if I dont find my answer post it in a new thread (to keep things neat).
Adam, I appreciate the post on the MSN forum, it clarified the issue I had earlier (as to whether i HAVE to get VOLT to do everything i need).
Just one question that continues this thread. After reading the manual, it discussed proper naming of glyphs as well as assigning the correct Unicode codepoint for each Arabic alphabet. What I had planned to do (and am in the process of doing) is to assign the Unicode for certain english characters to their (loosely) corresponding arabic characters (so i mapped "alif" to "a" or 0061, and "baa" to "b" or 0062, etc.
Would this be wrong to do? I mean, I know it's possible to do it, since I already started, but would procedure dictate otherwise?
Thanks

Si_Daniels's picture

> Would this be wrong to do?

If the font is your own personal project and you don't plan to share it with anyone else you're free to do whatever you like in the privacy of your own home. The Canadian font police won't break down your door and haul you away for making a hack-encoded font.

However if you want to use initial, medial and final forms for the letters (as well as the isolated forms) and have the font work properly right-to-left and have the dots placed correctly and include a nice matched Latin design, and be able to use the font to display Unicode encoded documents and Web pages you need to follow the conventions of existing Unicode OpenType Arabic fonts and not invent your own system.

Cheers, Si

irf2k's picture

thnx si,
its just a personal project, but i do want everything to work fine, including the placement of all dots and forms of the letters, so I think I'll make the extra effort to follow conventions of existing Unicode OpenType Arabic (sigh, more work than i had hoped for, but probably more rewarding).
thnx

John Hudson's picture

Regarding VOLT: you will need to use VOLT if you want to enable mark positioning in your font so, for instance, if you think it might be used to set vocalised text then you will need VOLT. Even if the only mark that will occur is shadda, you probably still want to use VOLT for dynamic mark positioning, rather than filling your font with glyphs for every conceivable combination of shadda with a base letter or ligature.

If you don't intend to support mark positioning, then it is possible to make a basic Arabic font using only FontLab.

I use VOLT for all my Arabic projects.

irf2k's picture

Well, i'm planning on using dynamic mark positioning, so I can see now that I'll need VOLT. But I have one setback regarding macromedia flash (the reason I am designing the font is for use with a flash movie i wanted to create). However, since it's not related to this topic, i posted it here:
http://typophile.com/node/16341

well, thnx for every1's help, i now know what's necessary in the development of an arabic font (and many other fonts as well)...and I've learned quite a bit...but as you might notice from the other post, it was all for nothing (well, not really nothing, b/c i did learn something, but i didn't accomplish what i wanted to).

conspirisi's picture

anyone got any ideas about displaying arabic with vowel signs in flash. I know flash doesn't support right to left yet. But was just trying to figure out the easiest way to do this, even if it requires me coding something up to render strings of text on the fly.

twardoch's picture

The OpenType Layout source code for the Microsoft Arabic Typesetting font is included in the Microsoft VOLT Supplementary Files, while the OpenType Layout source code for the Adobe Arabic font has been recently published on Thomas Phinney's blog: see the opentypedev source links.

Adam

Mel N. Collie's picture

"Then, I suggest looking at my post at: http://groups.msn.com/FontLab/"

WOW! There are hundreds of people asking in vain for bug fixes. I feel much better now ;)

Cheers!

John Hudson's picture

Adam: The OpenType Layout source code for the Microsoft Arabic Typesetting font is included in the Microsoft VOLT Supplementary Files

It should be noted that this is actually the source for the initial version of Arabic Typesetting, which is considerably different from the release version as revised by Mamoun Sakkal. Not only is the design different, but so are some aspects of the layout intelligence. That said, the source available in the VOLT Supplementary Files is a good guide to producing a moderately complex Arabic font, and certainly provides the information one will need to produce basic Arabic shaping with the init, medi, fina, rlig and liga features, as well as mark and mkmk positioning features. The release version of the font also implements the curs feature, but this is, alas, still not supported in InDesign ME, limiting the useability of Arabic Typesetting to Office under Windows.

I have some good ideas for Arabic type designs, but I won't make any of them for OpenType until the curs feature is more widely supported, since the designs will rely on this.

twardoch's picture

John,

how would you summarize the most important differences between the version of Arabic Typesetting that ships with the VOLT Supplementary Files and the version of Adobe Arabic for which Adobe made the VOLT sources available?

Best,
Adam

John Hudson's picture

1. The VOLT Arabic Typesetting font includes some 'calt' contextual lookups for alternating 'tooth' length, a traditional disambiguation technique. You would need to compare these with the behaviour in the shipping version of Arabic Typesetting in order to determine whether they are correctly implemented in the VOLT source. Adobe Arabic does not have this feature.

2. The VOLT Arabic Typesetting font includes glyph support for Qur'anic characters such as the ayah (verse) division sign; however, not all of these characters have layout behaviour defined. The Qur'anic combining marks do, but there are no lookups for numerals within the ayah sign; the latter is implemented in the shipping version. Adobe Arabic does not support any uniquely Qur'anic characters, since it was intended for modern texts.

3. Adobe Arabic supports extended Arabic character coverage up to Unicode 5.0, so includes some characters that were not defined when the VOLT Arabic Typesetting font was made.

4. Adobe Arabic supports numeral positioning for enclosing signs (year sign, footnote sign, etc., not including the Qur'anic ayah sign), which is not implemented in the VOLT Arabic Typesetting, but is supported in the shipping version.

Those seem to be the main differences. The VOLT Arabic Typesetting is even more basic, relative to the shipping version, than I remember it.

Mohamed Gallah's picture

just a question here...
how do i disable or remove an arabic glyphs without getting error from Fontlab Studio???

John Hudson's picture

You mean disable or remove an Arabic glyph from an existing font? Any change to the glyph set of a font with compiled OpenType Layout tables will wipe out those tables. OT Layout is based on glyph IDs, so changes to glyph set size or ordering will things up.

What are you trying to do?

jboutros's picture

To answer Irfan question on viewing Arabic with Flash.
By using an application called arPix Professional, you will be able to use Arabic with most latin applications including Flash.
The application come with 30 fonts, it is supplied by Grapheast.
If you want to use your own font, you need to produce a version working from the character positions of arPix. When you open an arPix font with fontlab you will see what i mean. It is an easy process.
http://www.grapheast.com/ge-software/cp.php?id=99

jum's picture

Since this post is quite old i still do hope someone has a solution to a similar problem:
I have completed an arabic font with almost all unicode ranges.
After generating the font from Fontlab it won’t display the right glyphs properly like any other arabic system font. It seems especially characters from Arabic Presentation Forms-B are replaced by others although the arabic unicode ranges are supported.

Any solution how i get the glyphs to show up properly is very much appreachiated. Thanks a lot in advance.

Artur Schmal's picture

Maybe this article by Pascal Zoghbi will be of your help?

jum's picture

Yes, thank you, it was. Pascal Zoghbi did a very good job there, but what i need to know is if it’s possible to generate a functioning arabic typeface in Fontlab and what i’ll have to do to make it show all glyphs properly.

saleem Ali's picture

John hudson plz your arabic project vedio tutorial if availabe on internate refer me.

John Hudson's picture

http://blogs.adobe.com/typblography/2007/06/adobe_arabic_sa.html

This is not a 'video tutorial' -- sorry, I don't have one -- but includes a link to the VOLT project source for the Adobe Arabic Regular font, which can be used as a guide to developing OpenType Layout features for Arabic in Microsoft's VOLT tool.

saleem Ali's picture

Dear John Hudson,

Please tell me ligature bari yeh before init, medi form join the ligature, joint point, what you know any rule in volt please provide detail, i thankful to you whole life. My imge below show the problem.

Best regards,

Saleem Ali Ghalib

John Hudson's picture

Is your ligature designed so that the bottom part of the bari yeh sits on the baseline? This is what it looks like in your image. Why not just make the glyph lower, so that the top part automatically aligns with the preceded letters. Bari yeh is normally a descending form, isn't it?

If you do want the bari yeh to sit on the baseline, and to have the preceding letter raised, then you need to use a Cursive Attachment GPOS lookup, but that's a lot more work that wouldn't normally be necessary for a flat design like this.

saleem Ali's picture

Dear John,

Thank you, yours fruitful suggestion.

saleem Ali's picture

Dear John Hudson,

My font is working on PC properly , but this font is not working on Mac adobe indesign ME version some word does not articulates, do you think that the font i have made in the PC lacks some technicality? Kindly guide me that what should i suppose to do to make it possile that it should be competible on MAC as well,kindly put some light on this issue if you have some time if you dont mind.

and other confusing is urdu digit aya number. Aya # subtitue comes in the circle like this (1) so whenever i want to write the numarics i to 9 it comes in this circle, its fine i am ok with it. However whenever on the other hand i write number 10 it comes seprately in the different cirlcles e.g (...(1)...(2), so kindly guide me to fix this issue.

Thank you john

Best regards,

Saleem Ali Ghalib

AzizMostafa's picture

In reply to:
http://typophile.com/node/15794?page=1#comment-428123
http://typophile.com/node/16288?page=1#comment-428035

Say: Even Arabic adobe does not work on Indesign correctly?!
To position themselves in the Arabic World,
Adobe + WinSoft must digest what is explained here:
http://www.khaledhosny.org/node/142

John Hudson's picture

Saleem, it would be helpful if you only posted your questions in one place. I have already responded to your question about InDesign breaking shaping where you posted it in this thread: http://typophile.com/node/15794

As I wrote there, I've not seen anything like this with other fonts in InDesign ME, so I presume there is a problem with the font.

Re. the numbers in aya marks: have you looked at how this is handled in the MS Arabic Typesetting font? The VOLT source for an early version of that font is included in the VOLT supplemental files

The numbers are positioned in the aya mark using contextual lookups in the kern feature.

saleem Ali's picture

Dear John,

Plz describe, Is the otf arabic font is used in apple and window system plateform?
My previous posted elaborate and shouted my major problem. Kindly help me.

your's quick response, thank you again

Saleem Ali Ghalib

John Hudson's picture

Saleem, Adobe applications use their own shaping engines, not system engines, and this is mainly so that Adobe can provide cross-platform compatibility within their applications. So what you appear to be looking at -- if I am interpreting your pictures correctly -- is not a Windows/Mac incompatibility, but a Windows/Adobe incompatibility. As I said, I have not seen this issue in InDesign ME with any of the Arabic OT fonts I have, so I presume there is something wrong with your font. I can't say more without examining the font.

saleem Ali's picture

Dear John,

Thank you, immediatly reply, plz give your email, so i send my volt base font.

Regards,

Saleem Ali Ghallib

John Hudson's picture

tiro[at]tiro[dot]com

Please note that I am very busy, so might not be able to respond to email promptly.

saleem Ali's picture

Dear Jhon Hudson tell me now generate urdu font in volt what is possible whole ligature incorporate in volt. Did you help me? My other font working properly in MAC and PC, yours fruit full advice being a good font designer in future.

saleem Ali's picture

John Hudson,

Plz, I am waiting your comments.

Regards,

Saleem Ali ghalib

Syndicate content Syndicate content