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. It is free software, distributed under the terms of the GNU Lesser General Public License and the Common Public License.

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 Mac OS X 10.6[1] although with AAT, Mac already provides a technology suitable for minority scripts.

Applications that support Graphite include the SIL WorldPad,[2] XeTeX, (since version 3.2, except for the Mac version), LibreOffice (except for Mac). It was built into Thunderbird 11 and Firefox 11,[3] and was turned on by default since version 22, but was disabled with version 45.0.1 and re-enabled with version 49.0.[4][5]

Graphite support can be added to applications on Linux with the package pango-graphite[6] and on Windows with the experimental add-on MultiScribe.[7]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Why was Graphite developed?". SIL International. 
  2. ^ "SIL WorldPad". Retrieved 2012-08-14. 
  3. ^ "Graphite - Using Graphite in Mozilla Firefox". SIL International. Retrieved 24 April 2013. 
  4. ^ "Firefox — Notes (45.0.1) — Mozilla". Mozilla. Retrieved 24 September 2016. 
  5. ^ "Firefox — Notes (49.0) — Mozilla". Mozilla. Retrieved 24 September 2016. 
  6. ^ Debian Webmaster, "pango-graphite". Retrieved 2012-08-14. 
  7. ^ "MultiScribe". Retrieved 2012-08-14. 

External links[edit]