[metafont] Re: [metapost]

Hans Hagen pragma at wxs.nl
Wed Jan 19 10:00:25 CET 2005

Laurence Finston wrote:
> On Wed, 19 Jan 2005, Christophe Grandsire wrote:
>>En r�ponse � Larry Siebenmann :
>>>Hans wrote (Tue Jan 18 05:56:10 2005):
>>> > imo, in a sense mf is kind of 'dead', i.e. replaced by metapost
>>> > and/or font editing programs and.or a combination of those
> I think it's nice that it's possible to use MP for making fonts, but if I
> specifically want a font, i.e., run-length encoded bit-maps, I think this

i'd say: "i.e. a proper outline"

> would be a rather roundabout way of doing it.  I also believe that the
> digitization routines of MF are interesting in their own right.


> In my field, linguistics, people often talk about "dead" languages,
> often implying a value judgement, as though "survival of the
> fittest" applied to languages.  It's not so.  Languages can't die,
> because they were never alive.

i know, but i'm talking from the perspective of a user community: in order to 
keep tex and friends around we need a substantial number users (most users are 
not aware of the enourmous efforts that take place to keep tex and friends 
running on all platforms, keep the textrees and archives up to date); so, if 
there are say 100 metapost users fo reach metafont users, then there is a push 
to keep metapost in the distros, and since metafont is related (but no longer 
developed) it can piggy back. It's the same with some fonts/tools that are 
seldom/never used but take not much additional effort to be kept on board.

so, replace 'die' by 'loose interest' and 'live' by 'gain interest'

> My work with fonts involved making a font that imitates as closely as
> possible the writing used in a particular medieval manuscript.  I also
> made a couple of fonts with modified characters from the cm and ec fonts
> to represent characters from that manuscript.  Since the first font
> will probably only be used in a single work, it doesn't really matter
> to me how many other people are using MF.  I suppose it would be
> possible to use PostScript to write the palaeographic font.  I don't
> know PostScript, but from what I've seen of it, it doesn't look like it
> would be as much fun to program in as MF.  That, for me, is really the
> main point.  At the time I started learning MF, I was using Autocad (and
> Autolisp) a lot.  LISP is one of my favorite languages, but it was still
> much more fun to write MF than Autolisp.  That's why I chose to use the MF
> language as the basis of the GNU 3DLDF language.

the font part of metafont consiste of the ability to make tfm files (which mp 
can also do) and for the rest it's macros (most of which can be used in mp as well)

just like tex is a basic typesetting engine, mf/mp are basic graphic production 
engines, and for all of them it's the macros that do the magic;

my remarks about mf being dead do not concern the language; it's always tricky 
to talk about languages here: tex as system and language, mf/mp as system and as 
language. The meta-language is ok, the meta-compiler/interpreters can evolve and 
be replaced.

> There are people interested in MF, so I think it's worthwhile to maintain
> the list.  I think a single list would be a good idea, too, but it
> shouldn't be called `metapost at tug.org'.

metafont at ....... -> font development in metafont
metapost at tug.org -> usage of metapost for whatever application

Being involved in user group activities, i also tend to think of marketing: if 
you visit user group meetings you will notice that metapost is kicking and alive 
and used for all kind of things; the occasional talk about metafont is (indeed) 
about fonts, and that's a different topic.


                                           Hans Hagen | PRAGMA ADE
               Ridderstraat 27 | 8061 GH Hasselt | The Netherlands
      tel: 038 477 53 69 | fax: 038 477 53 74 | www.pragma-ade.com
                                              | www.pragma-pod.nl

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