[R-SIG-Mac] FreeType on osx

Duncan Murdoch murdoch at stats.uwo.ca
Sun Mar 16 15:13:50 CET 2008

On 16/03/2008 7:30 AM, Prof Brian Ripley wrote:
> On Sun, 16 Mar 2008, Duncan Murdoch wrote:
>> Simon Urbanek wrote:
>>> On Mar 15, 2008, at 1:30 PM, Duncan Murdoch wrote:
>>>> I'm trying to add FreeType support to rgl.  I see that there are
>>>> versions that ship with OSX, and also versions on DarwinPorts and
>>>> fink.
>>>>  What would be the recommended advice to users on this, and what would
>>>> a configure script need in order to find FreeType?
>>> FreeType is a bit of a pain (I'll elaborate on that below). For CRAN
>>> binaries of packages that use FreeType we use a static build instead
>>> of the system one because those are too old. From a package's point of
>>> view it's easy, though, because you only have to ask pkgconfig or
>>> freetype-config. I wouldn't bother doing anything Mac-specific,
>>> because both Tiger and Leopard have freetype-config, but their
>>> versions are too old or buggy to bother.
>>>> On Linux, looking for freetype-config works, but that's not working
>>>> on  my OSX 10.4 laptop.
>>> It should - do you have X11 on your PATH?
>>>>  Would it work in Leopard out of the box, or does a user need to
>>>> install FreeType explicitly?
>>> Sort of - X11 in Leopard is broken out of the box, so you have to fix
>>> that first, but once you do, it works. Both Tiger and Leopard come
>>> with FreeType.
>>> The real problem is that FreeType (even the last release) is somewhat
>>> broken on OS X. It doesn't support system fonts properly. The CVS
>>> version is a bit better, but still has a bug that causes font styles
>>> to be mixed up. In addition, it is incompatible with the one shipped
>>> in the OS. But anyhow, I don't think you should worry about all this
>>> as a package maintainer - I'll have to sort those things out anyway
>>> now that we use FreeType in R :).
>> Thanks, it was the lack of X11 in the path that was the problem for
>> detection, but now I'm seeing some bad glyphs.
>> I'm using FTGL as a wrapper for Freetype, so the problem might be there,
>> or it might be the broken Freetype.
> I've seen that, and in all cases it was to do with which font freetype was 
> told to use.
> You could try to make sure that the Apple TrueType fonts (what Simon is 
> calling 'system fonts') are used -- it seems that almost everything else 
> gets used incorrectly on MacOS.  I'm not sure FTGL has support for those 
> -- its demo hardcodes paths to .ttf fonts, for MacOS in a user area.
> Finding suitable fonts is probably also a concern on Linux and other 
> Unix-alikes.  There are some free ttf fonts available that you could ship: 
> they are not as nice as the Apple ones, but they would provide a good 
> platform-independent default.  (E.g. Liberation, mentioned in 
> R-admin.texi.)  If you want a symbol font, you are going to be out of luck 
> -- the only symbol fonts I know of are the Apple and Windows ones, and 
> freetype does not use the Windows one correctly (or at least, no 
> freetype-based program I have tried does, and it seems to do with the 
> encoding).

I've taken three from the Amaya project (FreeMono, FreeSans, and 
FreeSerif).  They also have some symbol fonts ESSTIX*, with a non-GPL 
compatible license; I haven't seen how good they are.  Amaya also has 
bold, italic and bold-italic versions of the basic fonts, but I've only 
taken the regular ones, to avoid a huge increase in the rgl file size.

I see the same problem using /System/Library/Fonts/times.dfont.  It 
looks as though FTGL or FreeType is building a bitmap, then misapplies 
the dimensions:  some of the characters are fine, others end up really 
slanted (sometimes wrapped) within a rectangular box.

Duncan Murdoch

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