Graphite (SIL)

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Developer(s) SIL International
Operating system Multi-platform
Type Software development library
License LGPL, CPL

Graphite is a programmable Unicode-compliant smart-font technology and rendering system developed by SIL International as free software, distributed under the terms of the GNU Lesser General Public License and the Common Public License.[1]

Capabilities and comparison to other smart font technologies[edit]

Graphite is based on the TrueType font format, and adds three of its own tables. It allows for a variety of rendering rules, including ligatures, glyph substitution, glyph insertion, glyph rearrangement, anchoring diacritics, kerning, and justification. Graphite rules may be sensitive to the context. For instance, there might be a glyph substitution rule that replaces every non-final s by an ſ.

In a Graphite font, all smart rendering information resides within the font file. In order to display the Graphite smart rendering, an application needs only Graphite support, but no built-in knowledge about the writing system’s rendering. This makes Graphite especially suited for minority writing systems that cannot rely on applications to provide built-in rendering information. In this regard, Graphite is similar to AAT and different from OpenType which requires applications to provide built-in rendering information.

Graphite support[edit]

Graphite was originally implemented on Windows. It has been ported to Linux. It is also available on macOS 10.6[2] although with AAT, Mac already provides a technology suitable for minority scripts.

Applications that support Graphite include the SIL WorldPad,[3] XeTeX, (since version 3.2, except for the macOS version), LibreOffice (formerly except for the macOS version, since version 5.3 become availably on all platforms[4]). It was built into Thunderbird 11 and Firefox 11,[5] and was turned on by default since version 22, but was disabled with version 45.0.1 and re-enabled with version 49.0.[6][7]

Graphite support can be added to applications on Linux with the package pango-graphite[8] and on Windows with the experimental add-on MultiScribe.[9]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Byfield, Bruce (March 28, 2006). "Graphite: Smart font technology comes to FOSS". 
  2. ^ "Why was Graphite developed?". SIL International. 
  3. ^ "SIL WorldPad". Retrieved 2012-08-14. 
  4. ^ "Release Notes 5.3". Wiki. The Document Foundation. 11 November 2016. Retrieved 13 December 2016. 
  5. ^ "Graphite - Using Graphite in Mozilla Firefox". SIL International. Retrieved 24 April 2013. 
  6. ^ "Firefox — Notes (45.0.1) — Mozilla". Mozilla. Retrieved 24 September 2016. 
  7. ^ "Firefox — Notes (49.0) — Mozilla". Mozilla. Retrieved 24 September 2016. 
  8. ^ Debian Webmaster, "pango-graphite". Retrieved 2012-08-14. 
  9. ^ "MultiScribe". Retrieved 2012-08-14. 

External links[edit]