Keter YG for Macintosh

Michel Boyer's picture

There seems to be no font for the Macintosh that can display properly Hebrew with cantillation marks, a situation I find annoying since my MacBook Pro with OS X 10.5 can't even display in a useful way some Wiki pages I consulted recently. I thus took the time to build such a font, using python and the python fontforge module, starting from the glyphs of Yoram Gnat's Keter YG font.

I first looked for a good corpus of glyph combinations to produce as ligatures, i.e. a repertoire of consonants with their accompanying vowels and marks. The Mechon Mamre site allows downloading such a Bible in a click and I took those html files as my corpus, giving me a little more than 6250 combinations that I wanted to precompose using python with the fontforge python module.

Also, I am no font designer, at all. I thus had to start from an existing font that allows modifications, and since the Mechon Mamre files are based on the Aleppo Codex, of which there is a very nice edition I could get from my university library, the Jerusalem Crown, with a font made by Zvi Narkiss, I chose a font with the same inspiration, namely Yoram Gnat's Keter YG font (available from Taamey Culmus).

Wanting to keep the job as simple as possible, I found no other way than to discard completely the "Hebrew logic" (the Hancock-Hudson layout) used in Yoram Gnat's font, that looked much too complicated for me to handle. I then moved a few dots out of the way to avoid as much as possible clashes with other diacritics; I used a scheme with only 6 marks, namely 'bottom center', 'bottom right', 'top left', 'top center', 'top right' and 'high above'. The idea was simply to reconstruct with a fontforge script each of the combinations occurring in the Crown using the marks and attachments somewhat as they are normally used dynamically in an opentype font; knowing of no tools to do that, I wrote the code for it, but did just the minimum necessary. Another python script generates the mif file and it is ftxenhancer that produced the final font.

Here it is, Keter YG for Macintosh (zip file, 164K and here is how renders with FireFox on my Powerbook.

Since the Mechon Mamre site encodes 'holamhaser for vav' as 'zwj holam', the font also accepts that combination though it is made to use U+05BA; the font is nothing but ccmp tables and precomposed combinations.

If there is any "big mistake" please tell me fast.


david h's picture


Michel Boyer's picture

Can you give me a list of such fonts?

Michel Boyer's picture

The font now handles the furtive patah in all the cases where it occurs in the Mechon Mamre site

I now need to add a word of caution. If you read the .css file associated to the link above, you get

body {font-family:"Ezra SIL SR","Ezra SIL","Keter YG", ...

meaning that if the Ezra fonts are installed, they will be used by your browser (and that works well on Windows), else the next is Keter YG. The font I made was intended to install on my mac so that "Keter YG" would be used, and would render correctly in Safari the pages corresponding to the link above.

The word of caution is that the font is not general purpose. It assumes that the vowel points and marks are typed exactly in the same order as they are on the Mechon Mamre site, else, it will not display correctly your text.

Michel Boyer's picture

I just installed Lion (OS X 10.7) and Safari now displays correctly the pages referred to above with the Opentype fonts Ezra SIL and Keter YG. It seems special mac fonts are no longer required. What I did above is already outdated.

Michel Boyer's picture

I finally added the code to reorder the diacritics. Assuming the dagesh, shindot and sindot follow immediately the consonant, there are at most three diacritics to reorder in the files I considered. Two rearrangement tables applied in a row do the job: the first selects the diacritic to go first, the second the diacritic to go second (that is a selection sort). To sort four, three rearrangement tables would be used etc. Being able to rearrange things that way was an advantage of the AAT fonts.

Now, I am afraid this is a farewell. Indeed here is what ftxenhancer returns me on OS X 10.7

Launch of "ftxenhancer" failed: the PowerPC architecture is no longer supported.

The Apple font tools no longer work on OS X 10.7. Goodbye.


ssmony's picture

Dear Michel, So for the Error message when running "ftxenhancer" on OS X 10.7, does it mean The Apple font tools no longer available in the world? What can we use instead of Apple Font Tools?

Grzegorz Rolek's picture

They do work, obviously, and Michel apparently had some old binaries. That’s in case somebody comes across this thread.

Michel Boyer's picture

Michel apparently had some old binaries

My post was dated 29 Jul 2011. The new binaries are dated two months later, 5 Oct 2011. Thanks for mentioning their existence.

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