Tuesday 20 August 2013
TypeCon is coming up and there's going to be a discussion there about competing proposals for advanced glyph rendering, especially coloured glyphs. That was an incentive for me to knuckle down over the last couple of days and fix some issues in our implementation of the Mozilla-Adobe proposal that adds an "SVG" OpenType table to render glyphs in SVG format.
I had to update our implementation from our original prototype to use the format defined by the merged Adobe-Mozilla proposal. Then I had to track down a bug in the calculation of glyph extents for SVG glyphs --- this turned out to be a generic bug affecting any font with egregious glyph extents, so I'm glad we've caught it. The last and most interesting part of the Gecko work was to enable animation in SVG glyphs. This is tricky because we need to map from a font whose glyphs have changed back to all documents and text that using that font, so we can ensure the text is properly repainted, and we've never needed this mapping before. gfxFont.cpp is gnarly but the code worked out OK.
Creating fonts with SVG glyphs has required hacky scripts so far, and I was getting tired of that, so before I did the Gecko changes I wrote a small Web app to help: SVG OpenType Workshop. You can open an existing OTF/TTF font file (sorry, no WOFF support yet), create/edit an SVG table document, see the results on (editable) sample text live as you type (generating a new font file at every keystroke), and save the generated font. I found it very useful, and it shows that you can have live font editing in Web apps without an SVG font DOM or other dedicated browser APIs. To render the fonts, the application requires browser support for the SVG-OT draft mentioned above, so for now only experimental Firefox builds will work.
Check out this screencast of animated glyphs in action.