Arabic Fonts and the Mac

Vladimir Tamari's picture

Hello friends. After a hiatus of about a year (cataracts operations restored vision, and the Japan earthquake survived!) I am back here on these Typophile Arabic Forums that I had the pleasure to help initiate with colleagues.

I am a bit puzzled about the behavior of some Arabic fonts on the Mac and how to generate Arabic fonts that work properly on OS X 10.6 (Snow Leopard) and using the Arabic (QWERTY) input method. Here are some questions:

1- On some applications like TextEdit and Photoshop my fonts display properly, but on others such as Pages or OpenOffice the complex script is outputted with the letters disconnected. This is not a problem with the applications themselves because Arabic fonts supplied by Apple like Al Bayan and Baghdad display properly there. I looked at Al Bayan and it has no classes whatsoever yet it works perfectly. This is puzzling!

2- On some applications like GIMP the keyboard does not even type Arabic at all.

3- Is there a Fontlab setting or workaround that allows generation of OT Arabic fonts that work on the Mac?

Many thanks for your experience with these issues and how to resolve them.

Khaled Hosny's picture

Some applications use old system text layout APIs that does not support OpenType, so only AAT fonts (e.g. Apple supplied fonts) will work, I know that OpenOfice (and LibreOffice) are so, may be Pages as well.

No idea about GIMP problem, but it seems to be a text input issue rather than text layout, but if everything else is fine OpenType should work in GIMP as well since GTK (its the UI toolkit) has its own text layout engine.

If you are building your own fonts, you may want to make them hybrid OpenType/AAT fonts, but I don't think FontLab can create AAT fonts, you'll have to use separate tools from Apple.

Vladimir Tamari's picture

Thank you Khaled. You know a lot about these issues! I will check out the Apple website for the tools.

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