Monday, October 29, 2007

Leopard Can Use Windows Arabic Fonts

Playing around with TextEdit, I've discovered that the new Leopard can apparently display Windows Arabic fonts correctly. Previously trying to select such fonts would result in disconnected and wrongly-shaped glyphs, so that only Apple's Geeza Pro or other AAT fonts could be used. This was especially a problem in Safari when the user had installed MS Office, which included Arial and Times New Roman fonts with Arabic in them that often got selected by web pages. Persumably this new feature represents expanded OS X support for OpenType font features. My tests indicate that Windows Devanagari and other Indic script fonts are still not supported however. Also Windows Arabic fonts do not work in Pages.


Smokey Ardisson said...

My understanding is that instead ATSUI and friends prevent Arabic glyphs from those (and other non-AAT) fonts from being used or being picked up by font fallback routines.

I don't have 10.5 in my hands yet, so this is all from reading technical discussions, and you've obviously got the goods, so to speak. If you install a font like one of the Nastaleeq fonts mentioned on Alan Wood’s Unicode pages, do you actually see the highly stylized script when you use it in your experiment, or something more akin to Geeza Pro and friends? If my “sources” are wrong, this is really a great upgrade!

Tom Gewecke said...

I think what you is probably true for Safari/webkit, but TextEdit certainly seems able to use them. See this photo:

Smokey Ardisson said...

I'm delighted to be wrongly-informed, or to have drawn the wrong conclusion from the info I had :)

Magnus Lewan said...

The conflict between Pages and Arabic is very strange. If I cut and paste Arabic text using the OpenType font Adobe Arabic, Pages fails with all the ligatures, but it gets the "Latin" numbers ("2003") right. If I cut and paste using the true type fonts Geeza Pro or Baghdad, the ligatures are right, but all the "Latin" numbers are messed up. And, as we know, Pages does not support Arabic input. It seems that whatever support Pages has for Arabic is purely coincidental.

Anonymous said...

I'm working on trying to publish some religious texts as MacOS X dictionaries. I've run into a stumbling block with the Quran.

I have downloaded a good open-source XML copy of the Quran from They also have some fonts that can display the classical Arabic from the Quran. Everything works perfectly until I try to view the text in the Dictionary (which uses the Safari webkit).

It seems like Safari has trouble with the ArabeyesQr font. It uses the isolated form of some characters instead of the proper inital form. You can see what I mean at using Safari 3. The page works fine in all other browsers: Firefox, Camino, IE 6 for Windows, and Safari3 for Windows.

I haven't seen any other font (including Geeza Pro) that renders this data source properly. I don't know if the data is incorrect or if the font doesn't work with Safari 3. You can download the font from that same location above, the directory index is accessible. I'm pretty sure the problem is specific to WebKit because I can copy and paste the Arabic Unicode characters into TextEdit or FontBook and they display correctly using the Arabeyes font.

I filed a bug with Apple. I'm pretty much stuck with this dataset. I might try with a less complicated and, hence, less correct dataset. For some reason, Muslims are picky about that book.

You clearly know more about this stuff than I do. Does anything I've said make sense? Do you have any suggestions? Feel free to email me at jdaniel at etresoft com

PS: I found you via the Apple Discussions groups

Anonymous said...

Perhaps that ArabeyesQr font is the problem after all. LateefRegAAT and ScheherazadeRegAAT both work fine. Thanks for all the info. I'm off and running again.


Fontz said...

Hi there !

I have problem with some arabic fonts in my new leopard (10.5.2) system.I copied those fonts from my old 10.4.11 . When I open indesign-me in leopard , found some arabic fonts are missing in the list. But the same fonts are working fine with my 10.4.11 system

Could Someone please tell me how can i fix it

Tom Gewecke said...

For help with InDesign, go to the Adobe forums:

Dave said...

Hi Tom,

I've learned a few things about how to "force" Uyghur Windows fonts (like the wonderfully free UKIJ font set) to work in problem applications like pages and in MS Office for Mac.

First (and this might be obvious to most), I found that pulling characters from the "Arabic Presentation forms section" area of Character viewer will insert usable characters in all applications.

Second (and this leads me to a question for you) using a handy windows application called Uyghuredit (it's a Uyghur word-processor) I'm able to copy a block of text in what the programmer called "basecode only". What this does is force only the characters from the "Presentation Forms" to the clipboard and then into problem applications.

Note: something I learned that might benefit others: the popular UKIJ fonts have different "Presentation Form" layout from the MS Uighur font that came with Vista. It looks like MS put all its initial form characters in the place of UKIJs medial forms and vice-versa. So, if I needed to have MS Uighur display properly, I need to write a "search & replace" macro to fix those issues.

So, my question... have you ever heard of his "basecode only" idea, of basically breaking out only the finished combined forms rather than the "proper" unicode values? That would be a handy thing to know how to do. Perhaps we could then write some sort of macro for forcing windows fonts to work in all mac applications (with the caveat of not being able to edit things then--at least they'll look nice!)

Tom Gewecke said...

Dave -- The presentation forms exist in Unicode only for compatibility with old legacy encodings and implementations. Aside from editing, things like searching and sorting are presumably also broken. I think many fonts probably omit many or all of them, as they not supposed to be used in modern unicode input/rendering. But of course for purposes like local printing that doesn't matter and the techniques you describe are a way to do things in those problem apps. Personally I prefer to recommend that people avoid them and use Mellel or Nisus or TextEdit or OpenOffice instead.