questions & comments

Allin Cottrell
Mon, 6 Jul 1998 20:57:30 -0400 (EDT)


I installed my first postscript fonts for TeX by hand, "rolling
my own"  vpl files to incorporate glyphs from the expert sets
alongside those from the regular fonts.  This was quite
instructive, and even fun of a sort, but life is too short to do
that sort of thing very often, and besides the opportunities for
messing up when you're hand-editing vpl files are endless. Hence
I was very pleased to "discover" fontinst.  Congratulations to
all the developers; having done something like this by hand I
appreciate how much work must have gone into its smooth

I have a few comments on the current fontinst distribution, and
one suggestion.

First, on fontinst documentation.  This is very good, once you
find it, but I have to say that the directory structure on CTAN
seems to me excessively confusing.  On entering the fontinst
sub-tree you see directories named "examples", "source",
"inputs", "test", "doc" and "contrib".  Now, where do you expect
to find user-level documentation? Surely, in "doc"?  Nope,
that's only technical material relating to encodings.  In my
experience, "contrib" usually means add-ons that you probably
don't need, as a first-time user at any rate, so pass that over
(first mistake!) and search the other sub-dirs.  Compile and
print various things -- but nothing resembles instructions for a
new user.  So eventually I go back into "contrib", into
"rowland", and try taking a look at fontinst.dvi.  I have xdvi
hooked up to my web browser, but xdvi just emits a seemingly
endless stream of error messages.  Ah, this dvi file seems to
use the ec fonts, which I don't have.  I'd be better off
compiling this myself.  But wait, I've already downloaded
fontinst.dtx, and latexing that will produce fontinst.dvi, won't
it?  So go do that (second mistake!), but again see technical
information rather than anything useful to a beginning user.

Only much later, after much searching of the web -- and further
confusion caused by turning up out-of-date user documentation on
various web sites -- do I finally twig that the
fontinst.{tex,dvi} in contrib/rowland (_not_ to be confused with
the completely different fontinst.dvi that results from latexing
fontinst.dtx!) contain the user-level information that I wanted.

So: A suggestion.  Why not get rid of the dvi files currently in
"doc"  (anyone who knows enough to want them surely knows enough
to generate them with ease him or herself), and put into "doc"
the files from contrib/rowland, suitably renamed as
user.{tex,dvi} or fontinst_guide.{tex,dvi} or some such, to
avoid confusion with the product of latexing fontinst.dtx? 

Second comment:  I was a bit puzzled with one aspect of the
action of fontinst when I fed it mbbr8a.afm, mbbri8a.afm,
mbbr8x.afm and mbbri8x.afm, and asked it to do
"\latinfamily{mbbj}{}" (Monotype Bembo).  Mostly I was
impressed, of course, but in one respect puzzled: in view of the
"j", why does the caps-and-small-caps virtual font, mbbrc9o, not
take the oldstyle numerals from the expert set?  It takes the
small caps from the Expert set OK -- and the basic roman virtual
font, mbbr9o, takes the oldstyle numerals from there OK -- but
mbbrc9o sets the lining numerals from mbbr8r.  (Also, I wonder,
why the rigmarole with the "F-ligatures" in the csc font?)

A new suggestion: In my own use of postscript fonts, with expert
sets, under TeX/LaTeX, I've found it worthwhile making use of
the "superior"  (small, raised) characters provided in the
expert sets.  This is particularly worthwhile if you're using
oldstyle numerals (fontinst "j")  in the base virtual font,
because those numerals were not designed to appear in
superscripts, and look quite wrong when used that way (e.g. as
footnote markers).  Well-typeset older books employ a separate
font of small lining numerals for footnote markers -- well,
we've got that in the expert sets.  So my practice has been to
create a virtual font that draws the superior numerals (and any
other superior characters that might be available) from the
Expert set.  Taking Bembo as example, I've called this font
"mbbrsup" (yes, the name is anarchic, but unless I'm missing
something there is no provision for this in the Berry naming
scheme).  I then put something like this into my font's .fd file

 \DeclareFontShape{OT1}{mbbj}{sup}{n}{<-> mbbrsup}{}

and this sort of thing into its .sty file

%% Use superior numerals for footnote markers

    \parindent 1em%
    \hb@xt@1.8em{\hss\@makefnmark} #1}

I now see that I can create a font like "mbbrsup" quite
efficiently using fontinst, by doing something like this: 


where superiors.etx is an encoding file that puts the superior
characters, available in the expert font, into the corresponding
position in OT1, e.g. zerosuperior goes into slot 0x30.  Anyone
else have a use for this? 

Allin Cottrell
Department of Economics
Wake Forest University, NC