Use character map to access alternate glyph

Addison Hall's picture

I'm really curious about this -- is there any way possible to access an opentype font's alternate 'a' or other characters (like swashes) using the Windows Character Map? I'm trying to see how far I can push using opentype with apps like Microsoft Word and CorelDraw. I can find small caps and such, but no luck on the alternate glyphs. Any thoughts?

Thanks,
Addison

ralf h.'s picture

Depends on the font. If the alternate characters have Unicode values, you may access them with the Windows/MacOS character map. Otherwise they are not accessible from outside the application.

(In Corel apps you can only access the standard 256 glyphs, or has this changed in the recent versions?)

Ralf

Addison Hall's picture

Looking in Font Explorer on the Mac, I don't see a Unicode value on the alternate characters, but I didn't see them on the small caps either (I can access those). The small caps were all under the "Private Use Characters" so I figured the alternates should be there, too. Font Explorer shows glyph IDs, but no Unicode values.

CorelDraw supports Unicode as of version 12, but I still can't get to every character with their "Insert Character" palette. I'm curious about that, too.

Addison Hall's picture

Looking under "Private Use Characters" within Priva Pro, I find small caps, old style numerals, and small caps with accents (or whatever they're called). But if I look at the same within Bryant Pro, I get almost nothing. How are small caps and alternates stored within opentype fonts, or is that too much to go into?

I'm on Windows Vista, by the way.

Thanks,
Addison

Addison Hall's picture

Wow -- when I check out Adobe Garamond Pro, I get everything. I guess it depends on where those characters are placed when the font is put together. I thought there was some sort of standard...

Mark Simonson's picture

If you don't see them under the Private Use Area or anywhere else, they are unencoded and only accessible via OpenType features. A developer can assign PUA codes, but there is no standard for them (by definition) so you may get a surprise if you change fonts. Even so, some developers do it to give users at least some access to non-standard characters with apps that lack full OT support.

Addison Hall's picture

Well, it really does me know good to understand this, but I'm curious. Looking at Adobe Garamond Pro with Font Explorer (on Mac), I see that the ffj ligature has a Glyph ID of 615, but no other value. On Vista within BabelMap it has a value of U+E088. Is there an easy way to explain what that means and why they're different?

Mark, that's why I'm glad you still provide a version of your fonts for non-opentype savvy apps. Thanks for the explanation.

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