Having problems viewing fonts? (Call for Guinea Pigs!)

Questions and discussion about B-Greek policies or the B-Greek forum.

Can you see the text correctly?

Yes
24
96%
No
1
4%
 
Total votes: 25

Stephen Carlson
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Re: Having problems viewing fonts? (Call for Guinea Pigs!)

Post by Stephen Carlson » June 16th, 2011, 9:01 am

Ken M. Penner wrote:As an example of some typical problem areas, we could use תִּמְלֹ֣ךְ with a dagesh, holam, raised shwa in final kaf, and cantillation marks. How do the various fonts handle this?
As I feared, the holam gets its own space and took the cantillation mark with it.

Stephen
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Stephen C. Carlson, Ph.D.
Melbourne, Australia

Nigel Chapman
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Re: Having problems viewing fonts? (Call for Guinea Pigs!)

Post by Nigel Chapman » June 16th, 2011, 9:24 am

Ken wrote:
What is the problem for which Didot and JavaScript is the solution?
Hi Ken -- The problem is that different fonts handle the different languages better, esp. onscreen. For example, if we select Gentium (where installed) for user postings it renders the Greek well but the English is not so elegant (I think you reported this). Whereas using the current sans-serif font set is good for English but not ideal for the other languages. What Javascript allows us to do is find Greek passages (and Hebrew, now that we've mentioned it) and wrap them in different font styles. In the case of Greek, we can use Google Font Directory to supply a good Greek font, Didot, without any user having to customize anything to see it. But we can still allow other fonts to take precedence if other users have them installed (e.g. Gentium can still handle Greek and Hebrew). This prevents fonts that are good for only some languages from interfering with other languages, while still allowing individual preferences. It may be that the utilitarian sans-serifs are proving adequate, but I think the screenshots I've posted show a more attractive and readable page. What were your thoughts? -- Nigel.
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"When eras die their legacies are left to strange police." -- Clarence Day
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Jonathan Robie
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Re: Having problems viewing fonts? (Call for Guinea Pigs!)

Post by Jonathan Robie » June 16th, 2011, 9:35 am

Is it fair to say that font display is now working for Greek, and we're discussing how to optimize some things?

Let's see if we're trying to optimize the same things or not.

Here are my priorities:
  • 1. Greek shows up properly for the vast majority of users regardless of operating system / web browser. I *think* we may have achieved that.
    2. The site looks reasonably good for English as well. I think we're there too.
    3. On modern browsers, the site takes advantage of things like web fonts to make Greek even more readable
    4. The system is maintainable as the forum software and themes are updated
    5. If possible, we do not add tags to the text that were not added by the user. This isn't vital, but I do prefer this so we don't have to chase down bugs, worry about borderline cases with Hebrew or Coptic, fix data that was improperly handled in the past, etc.
Here's on possible solution: use CSS3 range descriptors to provide optimized display of Greek and Hebrew within text:

http://www.w3.org/TR/css3-fonts/#unicode-range-desc

The most modern browsers support this, older browsers would default to our current configuration.
0 x
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Ken M. Penner
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Re: Having problems viewing fonts? (Call for Guinea Pigs!)

Post by Ken M. Penner » June 16th, 2011, 9:47 am

Nigel Chapman wrote:It may be that the utilitarian sans-serifs are proving adequate, but I think the screenshots I've posted show a more attractive and readable page. What were your thoughts? -- Nigel.
Your screenshots look good. But I also think Tahoma looks good, and has the added benefit of consistency and simplicity.
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Ken M. Penner
St. Francis Xavier University

Ken M. Penner
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Re: Having problems viewing fonts? (Call for Guinea Pigs!)

Post by Ken M. Penner » June 16th, 2011, 9:56 am

Jonathan Robie wrote:Is it fair to say that font display is now working for Greek, and we're discussing how to optimize some things?

Let's see if we're trying to optimize the same things or not.

Here are my priorities:
  • 1. Greek shows up properly for the vast majority of users regardless of operating system / web browser. I *think* we may have achieved that.
    2. The site looks reasonably good for English as well. I think we're there too.
    3. On modern browsers, the site takes advantage of things like web fonts to make Greek even more readable
    4. The system is maintainable as the forum software and themes are updated
    5. If possible, we do not add tags to the text that were not added by the user. This isn't vital, but I do prefer this so we don't have to chase down bugs, worry about borderline cases with Hebrew or Coptic, fix data that was improperly handled in the past, etc.
Here's on possible solution: use CSS3 range descriptors to provide optimized display of Greek and Hebrew within text:

http://www.w3.org/TR/css3-fonts/#unicode-range-desc

The most modern browsers support this, older browsers would default to our current configuration.
Yes, I'm with you. Things are generally working, and we're just tweaking. One of the fixes made things worse, however: putting Arial Unicode MS early in the font list, because it doesn't handle Hebrew.
I like the unicode range descriptors solution, especially if a decent fall-back is in place for older/lighter browsers.
One thing I haven't tested is how the site looks on mobile browsers and small screens.
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Ken M. Penner
St. Francis Xavier University

Jonathan Robie
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Re: Having problems viewing fonts? (Call for Guinea Pigs!)

Post by Jonathan Robie » June 16th, 2011, 11:36 am

Ken M. Penner wrote:One of the fixes made things worse, however: putting Arial Unicode MS early in the font list, because it doesn't handle Hebrew.
I have now demoted it. The order of fonts is currently:

Code: Select all

font-family: "Liberation Sans", Tahoma, "Lucida Grande", "Arial Unicode MS", sans-serif;
0 x
ἐξίσταντο δὲ πάντες καὶ διηποροῦντο, ἄλλος πρὸς ἄλλον λέγοντες, τί θέλει τοῦτο εἶναι;
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Ken M. Penner
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Re: Having problems viewing fonts? (Call for Guinea Pigs!)

Post by Ken M. Penner » June 16th, 2011, 1:40 pm

Jonathan Robie wrote:The order of fonts is currently:

Code: Select all

font-family: "Liberation Sans", Tahoma, "Lucida Grande", "Arial Unicode MS", sans-serif;
Why is Liberation Sans in the list? The version I have has no coverage of the Greek extended block.
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Ken M. Penner
St. Francis Xavier University

Jonathan Robie
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Re: Having problems viewing fonts? (Call for Guinea Pigs!)

Post by Jonathan Robie » June 16th, 2011, 2:43 pm

Ken M. Penner wrote:
Jonathan Robie wrote:The order of fonts is currently:

Code: Select all

font-family: "Liberation Sans", Tahoma, "Lucida Grande", "Arial Unicode MS", sans-serif;
Why is Liberation Sans in the list? The version I have has no coverage of the Greek extended block.
I'll check into this when I have a chance. Probably tomorrow morning.
0 x
ἐξίσταντο δὲ πάντες καὶ διηποροῦντο, ἄλλος πρὸς ἄλλον λέγοντες, τί θέλει τοῦτο εἶναι;
http://jonathanrobie.biblicalhumanities.org/

Jason Hare
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Re: Having problems viewing fonts? (Call for Guinea Pigs!)

Post by Jason Hare » June 16th, 2011, 3:09 pm

Ken M. Penner wrote:
sccarlson wrote:
Ken M. Penner wrote: It looks like fine to me in Arial Unicode MS, but the example does not include the holam, which is the vowel point that fonts mess up (in my experience).

Stephen

(But I prefer Tahoma to Arial, anyway.)
As an example of some typical problem areas, we could use תִּמְלֹ֣ךְ with a dagesh, holam, raised shwa in final kaf, and cantillation marks. How do the various fonts handle this?
It looks fine on my system. I see the munach mark as well as each of the diacritics, and the sheva is even raised with in the kaf-sofit. I don't have any problem with its looks at all.
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Jason A. Hare
Tel Aviv, Israel

Nigel Chapman
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Re: Having problems viewing fonts? (Call for Guinea Pigs!)

Post by Nigel Chapman » June 16th, 2011, 4:50 pm

Why is Liberation Sans in the list? The version I have has no coverage of the Greek extended block.
Sorry, that was my mistake, I'd misread the Wiki page for Unicode fonts on Free/Libre systems, and didn't notice my system was falling back to another face.

I've just been through the fonts in the Insert > Special Character in Libre Office... The Linux sans-serifs fonts with Greek Extended are: DejaVu Sans (+ Light, + Condensed), Ubuntu (sugg. Light) and FreeSans. Except for Ubuntu, these also have the "Basic Hebrew" block. And FreeSans is the nicest, though like all of them it needs some extra leading. So the Linux font-family I'd pick would be:

Code: Select all

font-family:  "FreeSans", "DejaVu Sans", "Ubuntu";


These are sufficiently unique that they can go first in the list after the user-preferred faces. the only issue is whether DejaVu Sans will take priority over Tahoma on Windows. On page 1 of this thread, Ken spelled the Windows name of DejaVu Sans as "Déjà vu sans" -- was that correct? If they are named differently then the precedence issue disappears, otherwise we move DejaVu after Tahoma.

How to order the Windows and Mac faces is a problem: Lucida Grande is the system font, in full Unicode, on Mac but -- apparently? it was reported in this thread -- not on Windows, while Tahoma (like all the MS Core Web Fonts) exists on Mac and so will take precedence over Lucida Grande there. Lucida Grande has 233/233 of Greek Extended, but both Lucida Grande and Arial MS Unicode have only 82/87 for Basic Hebrew, according to http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Unicode_typefaces (thus Arial actually has more Hebrew than Arial MS Unicode). On thinking it through, we can just stick to the common sans-serif web fonts for Windows and Mac, which, limited by Greek Extended and Basic Hebrew completeness, are Arial, Microsoft Sans Serif and Tahoma. Could someone compare these side-by-side on Windows and select an order of priority?

My compendious CSS specification would thus be:

Code: Select all

.postbody .content {  /* Utilitarian Serifs */ 
    font-family: /* Linux */ "FreeSans", "DejaVu Sans", "Ubuntu", /* Windows + Mac */ "Microsoft Sans Serif", "Tahoma", "Arial", /* Fallback */ sans-serif; 
    font-size: 1.35em; 
    line-height: 145%; 
}

.greek { /* Or just fall-back to the sans-serifs in .postbody .content */ 
    font-family: "Gentium", "Galatia SIL", "GFS Elpis", "GFS Didot", "GFS Bodoni", "Aisa Unicode", "Athena New Unicode", "Cardo", "SBL Greek", "Palatino Linotype", "Times New Roman"; 
    font-size: 116%; 
    line-height: 145%; 
}

.hebrew { /* Or just fall-back to the sans-serifs in .postbody .content */ 
    font-family: "Ezra SIL", "SBL Hebrew"; 
    font-size: 116%; 
    line-height: 145%; 
}
Notes:

- Someone with better Hebrew knowledge will need to check the .hebrew fonts list, I've just googled some academic recommendations.
- Very ambivalent about including SBL Greek in .greek, but that's personal taste.
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"When eras die their legacies are left to strange police." -- Clarence Day
Nigel Chapman | http://chapman.id.au

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