[NTG-pdftex] pdftex 1.40 and active characters in French

Thanh Han The hanthethanh at gmail.com
Mon Oct 23 10:30:08 CEST 2006


it seems that pdftex cannot do anything to improve the below
issues. Sorry.


On Sat, Oct 21, 2006 at 07:48:00PM +0200, Martin Schroeder wrote:
> ---------- Forwarded message ----------
> From: Daniel Flipo <daniel.flipo at univ-lille1.fr>
> Date: 21.10.2006 19:31
> Subject: pdftex 1.40 and active characters in French
> To: Martin Schr�der <martin at oneiros.de>, Hans Hagen <pragma at wxs.nl>
> Cc: Robert Schlicht <w.m.l at gmx.net>
> Hi Martin and Hans,
> I have heard about new kerning facilities coming with pdftex 1.40 and
> started playing with them (through the microtype interface, latest
> version 1.37 2006-09-09 with \betatrue).  I would love to get rid of the
> four active characters (:;!?) in babel/frenchb.
> Unfortunately, after discussing with Robert (in copy), it appears that
> these new kerning facilities do not quite fulfil what would be needed
> for French.  I'd like to make a summary of the required specifications
> in case you can think of a possible solution for future developments of
> pdftex.
> 1) People who type correctly in French, are used to type a (normal)
> space before ';:!?'. pdftex 1.40 can add a kern before them, but cannot
> do an '\unskip' to remove the typed space.  It is hopeless to try to
> convince French writers to change their habits and refrain from entering
> a space before ';:!?' ;-)
> frenchb currently handles the four (active) punctuation chars ;:!? in
> two different ways:
> -- with option \NoAutoSpaceBeforeFDP, frenchb _replaces_ the normal
> space with an unbreakable one of the correct width, _if and only if_ a
> space (normal or '~') is present before ';:!?'.  If no space is typed,
> frenchb does nothing and lets the punctuation mark stick to the
> preceding word.  This avoids to get a spurious space in URLs
> (http://...), Windows paths (C:/path), etc.
> -- with option \AutoSpaceBeforeFDP (the default), you can type
> carelessly "bonjour!", "bonjour !" or even "bonjour~!", frenchb will
> always output it correctly, but then you cannot complain if you get a
> spurious space in URLs...
> 2) Another (minor) issue occurs with ':'.  Again, there are currently
> two different options in frenchb:
> -- Most people agree with our � Imprimerie nationale � that ':' should
> be surrounded by two spaces of the same length, the first one being
> unbreakable, the other three (;!?) getting a thin space (kern in TeX)
> before and a normal one (glue) after.  That's what frenchb does by default.
> -- Some typographers argue that ':' should be treated like the other
> three, so an option is provided in frenchb to satisfy them.
> AFAIK pdftex 1.40 can add a kern before a character but not a glue, so
> the spaces around ':' might look unsymmetrical in the first case if TeX
> stretches the second one...
> 3) Guillemets are less problematic because they are currently entered
> with commands (\og and \og), not as characters. Spaces after the opening
> '�' and before the closing '�' should be unbreakable but stretchable
> (currently .8\fontdimen2 plus .3\fontdimen3 minus .8\fontdimen4).
> Moreover, a kern after '�' breaks hyphenation of the following word as
> Robert already already pointed out on the pdftex bug list.
> Feel free to forward this mail to other pdftex developers if it can be
> useful, I would have wished to send it to Than also but I could not find
> his current mail address.
> Best wishes and thanks for your attention,
> --
> Daniel Flipo
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