OT-Unicode character to metafont?

Norman Gray norman.gray at glasgow.ac.uk
Tue Aug 21 07:52:50 UTC 2018

Antonio, hello.

On 21 Aug 2018, at 3:51, Antonio Olivares wrote:

> It seems to me that
> metafont would be the best option, but how to use the specs to 
> generate
> it.

Metafont is a system for designing fonts, rather than a font format.  
That is, like Postscript, it's a programming language.

The output format of Metafont is (or rather, ends up as) PK files, and 
this is, if you like, TeX's 'native' font file format.  This format _is_ 
documented, but the only documentation I'm aware of is within the source 
of gftopk (see 
<https://ctan.org/tex-archive/systems/knuth/dist/mfware>), and the 
format does not, let us say, have extensive tooling support.  It's a 
fairly simple bitmap file format, but you'd be basically on your own if 
targeting it.

If you have your desired character in a postscript font, then you can 
potentially do the labour of setting up the mappings required to make 
that accessible to non-PDF TeX.  That's not well documented, because 
approximately no-one does this any more.  Fonts were always a nightmare 
in original TeX.

pdftex is better at managing postscript fonts, but it can still be a 
fuss, and you'd still have to work out how to get a postscript font with 
the character you want (which may not be trivial)

Note that (if I'm understanding your goal correctly), you have a font 
problem here rather than a unicode problem.  You have presumably found a 
font which contains the unicode character of interest, and your problem 
is how to use that font within a TeX document.

Note also that if you're searching for information on PK files, 
postscript fonts, and original TeX, and if for example you stumble 
across advice in a 20-year old usenet post, don't dismiss it as antique: 
that may be the most current online information about the problem.

The big deal with XeTeX and LuaTeX is that they support platform fonts, 
such as TTF, OTF, and so on (unicode input is one of the other important 
features of these programs, but quite separate).  That means a lot of 
font problems just evaporate.  If you need to do interesting font 
things, they are likely to be the right tools for the job.

The best place to ask for advice is on <https://tex.stackexchange.com>.

Good luck,


Norman Gray  :  http://www.astro.gla.ac.uk/users/norman/it/
SUPA School of Physics and Astronomy, University of Glasgow, UK
Charity number SC004401

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