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Mobile Linux gains scalable font engine

Feb 12, 2008 — by Eric Brown — from the LinuxDevices Archive — 4 views

[Updated Feb. 14] — Monotype Imaging announced that its iType scalable font engine is available as an open source plug-in for Linux. iType for Linux is compatible with other iType Connects plug-ins, and with the open source FreeType font engine used by Linux graphics libraries.

Formerly a division of Agfa, Monotype Imaging claims that its iType engine provides a “superior display of scalable, stylistic, and multilingual text.” iType is based on the OpenType and TrueType font formats, enabling OEMs and developers to build products that clearly display characters regardless of screen resolution or display size, says the company. iType is said to offer a modular approach that enables manufacturers to pick and choose capabilities according to device requirements such as screen resolution and memory.

iType's SmartHint characters are shown below top-line “standard” versions

The iType Connects plug-in for Linux offers features not found in the FreeType technology commonly used by embedded Linux developers, says the company, including:

  • SmartHint technology, enabling clear display of East Asian text, including intricate letterforms displayed at small sizes (see above diagram)
  • Fonts in a Box technology for full display of tall characters, such as those with accent marks and long descenders
  • Font linking capabilities, which help manage a device's font memory footprint by grouping fonts so that they can be treated as a single font, without having to merge multiple font files (see below diagram)

iType's font-linking capability — grouping fonts to reduce memory usage

The iType Connect engine supports “ESQ Mobile” (enhanced screen quality) fonts, said to be optimized for mobile displays and available in personality- and theme-based styles. An available “WorldType” font suite and “Compact Asian Technology for TrueType” collection are said to offer stylistic, multilingual fonts designed for high-quality display in memory-constrained environments.

The primitive state of embedded Linux fonts appears to be evolving rapidly. In October, Bitstream announced a “Bitstream Font Fusion” plug-in for Trolltech's Qtopia stack, claiming the rendering engine is faster, uses less memory, and offers higher quality than Qtopia's native fonts, which are based on FreeType.

Stated John Seguin, EVP of Monotype Imaging, “Today's announcement builds upon our partnerships with Symbian, QUALCOMM, and Microsoft who have made iType available to OEMs and developers. While we've offered embedded Linux solutions for years, customers can now bring products to market even faster using iType Connects for Linux.”


The iType Connects plug-in for Linux is available now.

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