VOLT (OT) feature programming for Hebrew

brianskywalker's picture

I've heard a little about VOLT (OT?) programming of Hebrew fonts, and am wonder what the specifics are of this. Is it character substitution for nikkud and regular glyphs to use specially designed glyphs with nikkud applied carefully rather than arbitrarily?

Michael Cunliffe Thompson's picture

If I understand you correctly then yes.

As far as substitutions are concerned there are many characters that are composites which can be designed 'carefully' as you say. For instance, if the text file contains a shin followed by a shindot then substitute the single character shinwithshindot. This also applies to all the characters that take a dagesh and to final characters such as kafsofitwithsheva can be displayed with the nikkud up higher.
That would be a good start.

You may want to make the advance larger for narrow characters such as yod and vav when the nikkud take a lot of space, for instance hatafs and qubuts. Do these cases actually occur? I don't concern myself with the correctness of the Hebrew text (grammatically) - I display or print whatever the 'user' gives me. Note however that others on this site disagree with this approach.

You may want to divide the letters into groups depending on width and then position the nikkud in the center of the letter depending on width.

If you decide now you are aiming at the secular market, you will save yourself a lot of effort.

Mike

brianskywalker's picture

Thanks Mike! This answers my question. :-)

> If you decide now you are aiming at the secular market, you will save yourself a lot of effort.

Do you mean that this would be unnecessary for secular use? This would be what I had thought.

I'm going to be releasing Neuton as a webfont. Including unnecessary combination glyphs would bloat the file and increase download size. I was mainly curious as to what exactly is done and why.

I haven't made any nikkud or other satellites for Hebrew, which I think have negative widths. So I'm going to be figuring that one out.

Michael Cunliffe Thompson's picture

Brian,

> If you decide now you are aiming at the secular market, you will save yourself a lot of effort.

Let me clarify this a little. Most modern Hebrew uses nikud rather sparingly. The main use is to make clear the meaning of words that would otherwise be ambiguous.
Another use is to make clear the pronunciation of foreign words.
I think you can assume there would only be a single nikud above or below a letter.
Nikud are also used in children's books but well known fonts would be chosen for this.
Religious books may require cantillation marks and getting that right is for specialists and masochists (!)
I would suggest you include all the combination glyphs in the Unicode as Hebrew is not a big font. Get your Hebrew to display well under True Type and Windows as Microsoft have done a passably good job to make this work without any special effort from you.

Later use Open Type to polish the font. For instance, resh with hirik looks better with the hirik directly under the leg of the resh.

Good luck, Mike

brianskywalker's picture

Thank you for clarifying.

> I would suggest you include all the combination glyphs in the Unicode as Hebrew is not a big font.

Yes, this was my plan. :) I had noted that that there are other glyphs (i.e. with Microsoft typography), and that man Pro fonts came with some extras. Even the Culmus opensource fonts seem to support everything and then some. But I deduced that it must not be totally required, as the Unicode page for Hebrew only has what appears to be required in Hebrew.

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