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Developer(s) Behdad Esfahbod, Simon Hausmann, Martin Hosken, Jonathan Kew, Lars Knoll, Werner Lemberg, Owen Taylor, David Turner
Stable release 1.1.3 / 11 January 2016; 28 days ago (2016-01-11)
Written in C++
Operating system Windows, Unix-like
Type Software development library
License MIT
Website freedesktop.org/wiki/Software/HarfBuzz

HarfBuzz (loose Latin transliteration of Persian: حرف‌باز, "Opentype")[1] is a software development library for text shaping, which is the process of converting Unicode text to glyph indices and positions. The newest version, New HarfBuzz, targets various font technologies while the first version, Old HarfBuzz, targeted only OpenType fonts.[2] New HarfBuzz provides only text shaping functions and not text layout or rendering, which require other libraries. Pango, which incorporates HarfBuzz, can be used for higher-level text layout, and FreeType or Anti-Grain Geometry for text rendering.

The goals for New HarfBuzz, as set by the developers, are for HarfBuzz to be beautiful, robust, flexible, efficient, and portable. Some potential applications that are a good fit for HarfBuzz are: graphical user interface (GUI) toolkits, web browsers, word processors, designer tools, font design tools, terminal emulators, batch document processors, and TeX engines.[3]


Behdad Esfahbod of HarfBuzz

HarfBuzz evolved from code that was originally part of the FreeType project. It was then developed separately in Qt and Pango. Then it was merged back into a common repository with an MIT license. This was Old HarfBuzz, which is no longer being developed, as the path going forward is New HarfBuzz. In 2013, Behdad Esfahbod won O'Reilly Open Source Award for his works on HarfBuzz.[4]

Major users[edit]

As of 2015, HarfBuzz users include Qt, Pango, and standalone users Firefox and Chromium (now all platforms, formerly Linux only),[5] XeTeX and LibreOffice.[6]


  1. ^ "HarfBuzz". freedesktop.org. 
  2. ^ "HarfBuzz Official website". Retrieved 10 November 2012. 
  3. ^ HarfBuzz presentation slides from the Internationalization & Unicode Conference, October 2009.
  4. ^ "O'Reilly Open Source Awards: OSCON 2013". 26 July 2013. 
  5. ^ Esfahbod, Behdad (18 January 2010). "State of Text Rendering". Retrieved 10 November 2012. 
  6. ^ "Release Notes 4.1". Wiki. The Document Foundation. 10 July 2013. Retrieved 12 July 2013. 

See also[edit]

  • Graphite (SIL) – a programmable Unicode-compliant smart-font technology and rendering system developed by SIL International.

External links[edit]