[Aleph] please review

Hans Hagen pragma at wxs.nl
Sat Jun 2 19:38:33 CEST 2007

Marc wrote:
> As promised, I'd like to add a few issues that I experienced when
> working with Aleph and related tools (I'm writing this largely out of
> the top of my head, so the list is likely incomplete):
>  * a solution to recurrent catcode issues, making the use of the
> verbatim environment essentially impossible
new feature: catcode tables; also, verbatim can be handled by the lua 
side of luatex .. intercept input and such
>  * the intransparency of OTPs (I'd like to see a true preprocessor which
> allows to inspect the results of a given action, or possibly nothing at
> all with the actual preprocessing being the user's responsibility.
> Virtual fonts make up for a good part of what would be lost)
you can implement your own preprocessor, i.e. plug in lua code at 
multiple stages
>  * rare instabilities of Aleph
part of aleph will be removed, also, much code is rewritten
>  * sometimes difficult to understand right to left typesetting semantics
this is mostly something to deal with at the macro level and list 
>  * numerous errors in existing OTPs, e.g. in the Greek part of omlgc and
> family (inherited from Omega, but extremely dangerous, as, of course, no
> warning informs about the wrong character being printed)
fixing otps is not part of the project; for the moment we keep otps for 
compatibility but in the end otps may disappear and be replaced by lua 
code (not by us btw)
>  * almost unusable ovp2ofm (extremely unstable, often reacts to small,
> syntactically correct changes in the virtual font with core dump)
given the number of ofm fonts ... luatex uses the same (newly written) 
reader for tfm/ofm and vf/ovf, also, you can manipulate fonts cq. 
contruct virtual fonts at runtime

dealing with the small number of ofm related fonts and their issues is 
not high on the agenda; maybe the fonts that are worth it should be 
converted to opentype
>  * problems with ttf2afm (based on a very old version of free-type,
> difficult to even install, but hopefully soon superfluous)
luatex has a ttf reade so there is no need for ttf2afm; also, reading 
afm files can be done by lua code (at least that is what i do)
> Especially the poor quality of many related, but essential tools such as
> ovp2ofm made the whole system often brittle.
i don't know the number of aleph users, but eventually luatex will 
replace aleph (no further development and fixes etc for aleph); this 
also makes the related o* tools obsolete
> On the positive side, the virtual font support of Aleph itself is a key
> strength.
luatex gives you the option to build your own virtual fonts at runtime
> As to my specific requirements, I've used the following scripts:
>  * Latin, including phonetics and many specific transcriptions e.g. for
> Old Near Eastern scripts
>  * Greek, again including many unusual combinations of Ancient Greek
> with diacritics (unsure epigraphic reading of characters etc.)
>  * Hebrew including vocalization
>  * Ethiopic
>  * Cyrillic
>  * Egyptian hieroglyphs
> as well as a couple of words in Arabic and Chinese scripts and a few
> dozen glyphs from a ttf font of my own making (some hieroglyphs, some
> cuneiform glyphs,  etc.).
code development of luatex is sponsored by the oriental tex project and 
high quality arab typesetting is one of the outcomes; once that can be 
done, the rest looks also doable
> (I've sometimes considered drafting article on the production cycle
> starting with TEI, but couldn't convince myself that somebody would be
> interested in this)
> As to samples: The publisher Niemeyer may post something on the search
> inside feature on Amazon
> http://www.amazon.de/Geordnetes-Weltbild-Marc-W-K%C3%BCster/dp/3484108991/ref=gfix-ews-form/302-2715083-3896043,
> but that isn't decided yet. Alternatively, I could send a specimen copy
> to the team also as a token of gratitude towards Aleph.

btw, a related project is tex-gyre: 


eventually there will be greek and cyrilic in all those fonts


                                          Hans Hagen | PRAGMA ADE
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     tel: 038 477 53 69 | fax: 038 477 53 74 | www.pragma-ade.com
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