[rfc-i] Font selection for RFCs (was: Re: a short note about the use of non-ASCII characters)

Nico Williams nico at cryptonector.com
Tue Oct 28 13:43:21 PDT 2014

On Mon, Oct 27, 2014 at 8:45 PM, "Martin J. Dürst"
<duerst at it.aoyama.ac.jp> wrote:
> On 2014/10/28 06:01, Heather Flanagan (RFC Series Editor) wrote:
>> My biggest challenge in this area is a question of what typeface to
>> use that includes enough Unicode characters to be useful, has and
>> acceptable license, and includes at least a mono-space font and
>> hopefully a variable-width font as well.  But that's a subject for its
>> own thread, and it's something I'm talking to a typography expert about.
> [...]
> For a start, there are extremely few typefaces that include both a
> mono-space and a variable-width variant. The requirements are already set
> [...]

The two are probably for different purposes anyways, right?
(mono-space largely being needed for code examples and such)

> The next issue is coverage of Unicode. There are some fonts that have a fair
> [...]

Again, we shouldn't need wide coverage for mono-space fonts, just for
variable-width fonts.

> Also, creating a font, in particular if it's supposed to cover a significant
> part of Unicode, is a lot of work, and needs a lot of different expertise.
> [...]

Hopefully that's not something anyone wants the RSE, ISOC, or related,
to be doing.

> Then there is the issue of different languages having different font
> preferences. The most widely known example is Chinese vs. Japanese. Although
> the characters are the same, and legible either way, the fonts that the
> Chinese are used to and the fonts that the Japanese are used to are quite
> different. Showing a Japanese text with a standard Chinese font feels weird,
> and the same the other way round. That's why XML and HTML have xml:lang/lang
> attributes, and we should make sure they are usable. [...]

I suspect this is also why Unicode used to have language tag codepoints.

This is probably a problem that I bet the RSE will have to deal with.
I'm glad you pointed it out.

> Today's technology is pretty much able to handle this. Advanced font
> technology allows to create 'combined' fonts collected from various sources.
> But may have to pay somebody to do that for you. What's easier is to use
> CSS, which also comes with machinery (language selectors, @font-face)
> specifically designed for some of these issues.

But CSS won't help with all the output formats that the RSE will be
producing, right?


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