bugFree UCS Outline Fonts - Bugs: bug #36754, Feature request: provide Arabic...


bug #36754: Feature request: provide Arabic range in FreeSans

Submitted by:  Benoit Maisonny <bmaisonny>
Submitted on:  Sat 30 Jun 2012 12:56:36 PM UTC  
Category:  character range Severity:  1 - Wish
Item Group:  None Status:  Postponed
Privacy:  Public Assigned to:  Steve White <Stevan_White>
Open/Closed:  Open Release:  2012-05-03

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Sun 30 Oct 2016 04:21:04 PM UTC, comment #6:

If you want to intergrate Arabic in FreeSans, it’s better asking Nadine Chahine for help.

Hsing-yen He <hammerandsickle>
Wed 30 Sep 2015 03:19:47 AM UTC, comment #5:

Hello Benoit,

I approve you that those Arabic characters can be copied from FreeSerif to FreeSans, but I don't agree with you that Arabic typography have no concept of Serif/Sans serif, because I remember several years ago, I have seen CCTV reproduced news reports from al-Arabiyah TV, some subtitles seems sightly different from many Arabic typefaces, they looks like sans-serif typeface rather than serif typeface.

Great Brightstar

Tue 29 Sep 2015 09:09:44 AM UTC, comment #4:

Hi Benoit,

I agreed that these Arabic characters can be copied into FreeSans, but these characters should be reformed in FreeSans to make them visually compatible with Helvetica.

Hsing-yen He <hammerandsickle>
Sat 30 Jun 2012 10:57:39 PM UTC, comment #3:

Hi Benoit,

This clarifies things a bit.

First, let me re-emphasize about the state of FreeSerif:

  • The latest version (the 2012 one) is far better than previous releases. It still has a couple of bad bugs though.

If you would like a more recent snapshot, I can give you that too.

  • I personally only know the script from books. Some native speakers helped out in the latest version, but everybody had complaints.
  • I'm quite willing to correct right away any bugs you find.

As to shortness of the text: this is normal. For one thing, vowels are not usually written in Arabic. For another, this font is specifically meant for dense text, such as newspapers -- it is not intended to be pretty, but rather, practical.

I know the readability of Arabic drops faster than the Latin. I am concerned about that, and would improve it, but as you say, it's partly the delicate nature of the script. (It happens in Indic scripts as well.)

There are some free Arabic fonts around, which are much more beautiful than FreeSerif. (I don't judge these as being appropriate for general use though: for one thing, they tend to be stylized for a specific language, usually Arabic, where FreeSerif is intended to be language-generic.)

As to your temporary solution: You know, under the GNU GPL license, you are quite free to edit the fonts yourself. If you re-distribute the altered font, you must do so under license compatable with the GPL, you must change the name of the font and take responsibility for your changes, and you ought to give some credit to the FreeFont group.

The copying is not exactly trivial though... I could help.

As to your particular application, I agree completely. One of the main goals of the FreeFont project is to facilitate good-looking mixed-script text without fiddling with fonts. It is a pity that there is no FreeSans for Arabic. This needs to be rectified.

I'll change the title of your request from "copy Arabic characters from FreeSerif to FreeSans" to one that reflect the need rather than specifying the solution. I don't know anybody else who has time to work on this righ now though.

Steve White <Stevan_White>
Project AdministratorIn charge of this item.
Sat 30 Jun 2012 10:24:36 PM UTC, comment #2:

Sorry, I am not qualified to judge the Arabic range in FreeSerif. I am probably going to use it in a document for a customer and if so, I will report their feedback, since you're asking. One thing I can say is that in 9pt (printed) it seems barely readable, while Latin characters are still very much readable. But that is probably tied to the very nature of this script.

I also noticed that Arabic text appears much shorter than its English translation, at least in my documents. This could hint that Arabic characters could be wider if this helps making them easier to read in small fonts. I'm no expert in either Arabic or typography so take this with a grain of salt.

I appreciate your reason for not copying the glyphs. I thought you might want indeed a specific adaptation for FreeSans one day but could use a copy as a temporary solution.

My request comes from the fact that we tend to use FreeSans for our documents in Latin-based languages. Some of our documents are bilingual in 2 columns per page, one language in each column. I am thus looking for a single sans serif font that includes the Arabic range, so that both columns have a coherent look. Of course I could use a different font for each column, but then Latin characters in the Arabic column will look different from those in the English column.

Benoit Maisonny <bmaisonny>
Sat 30 Jun 2012 02:27:27 PM UTC, comment #1:

Hi Benoit,

First ... what do you think of the new range? There are still a couple of bugs in it (fixed in SVN I think), but... are you qualified to judge the quality?

Also note: there is now an Arabic range in FreeMono.

You are right that Arabic has no notion of serifs per se (there are ink flourishes on some letters), but nonetheless, the current Arabic glyphs in FreeSerif are a fair match for the Latin range in weight and in stem width modulation. In these respects, they are quite unlike FreeSans.

This alone puts a nix on the suggestion, but generally, I'm against just copying glyphs from one face to another -- what's the point of having two faces, if not to have different glyphs?

It would make sense to find for FreeSans some Arabic glyphs with heavier weight and very slight stem width modulation. But this will be very time consuming, both to find and then to implement.

If you have suggestions, I'm glad to hear them!

Steve White <Stevan_White>
Project AdministratorIn charge of this item.
Sat 30 Jun 2012 12:56:36 PM UTC, original submission:


I wish you would copy Arabic characters from FreeSerif to FreeSans. As far as I understand (I don't speak Arabic), there is no concept of Serif/Sans serif in Arabic typography, so the same glyphs could be used for both Serif and Sans serif fonts.

Thank you for considering this feature request,

Benoit Maisonny <bmaisonny>


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    Follow 4 latest changes.

    Date Changed by Updated Field Previous Value => Replaced by
    2012-06-30 Stevan_White SummaryFeature request: copy Arabic characters from FreeSerif to FreeSans => Feature request: provide Arabic range in FreeSans
    2012-06-30 Stevan_White StatusNone => Postponed
    2012-06-30 Stevan_White Severity3 - Normal => 1 - Wish
        Assigned toNone => Stevan_White

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