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Original author(s)The FreeType Project
Developer(s)Behdad Esfahbod
Stable release2.6.4 (29 October 2019; 3 months ago (2019-10-29)[1]) [±]
Repository Edit this at Wikidata
Written inC++
Operating systemUnix-like, Windows
TypeSoftware development library

HarfBuzz (loose transliteration of Persian حرف‌باز harf-bāz, meaning “open type”)[2][3] 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][4]


Behdad Esfahbod, developer 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.[2] In 2013, Behdad Esfahbod won the O’Reilly Open Source Award for his work on HarfBuzz.[5]

Important milestones happened after versions 0.91, 1.0 includes Universal Shaping Engine concepts from Microsoft, 1.4 with OpenType font variation support, 1.6 with Unicode 10 support, 1.8 with Unicode 11 support, 2.0 with Apple Advanced Typography (AAT) shaping support.[6][7][8][9][10] In Version 2.1 are color fonts support, and improved major AAT Shaping features.


Most applications don't use HarfBuzz directly, but use a UI toolkit library that integrates with it. HarfBuzz is used by the UI libraries of GNOME, KDE, Chrome OS, PlayStation 4,[11] Android,[2] Java,[12] and Flutter;[13] and directly by applications Chromium, Firefox, LibreOffice (from version 4.1 on Linux only,[14] from 5.3 on all platforms[15]), Scribus,[16] and Inkscape.

See also[edit]

  • Graphite (SIL) – a programmable Unicode-compliant smart-font technology and rendering system developed by SIL International
  • Uniscribe and DirectWrite – two APIs that provide similar functionality on Microsoft Windows platform (HarfBuzz can be used instead of them on Windows also)
  • Core Text – an API provides similar functionality on OS X (HarfBuzz can be used instead of it on OS X also)


  1. ^ "Releases · harfbuzz/harfbuzz". Retrieved 29 October 2019.
  2. ^ a b c d Byfield, Bruce (19 December 2017). "HarfBuzz brings professional typography to the desktop". LWN.net.
  3. ^ "HarfBuzz". freedesktop.org.
  4. ^ "HarfBuzz Official website". Retrieved 10 November 2012.
  5. ^ "O'Reilly Open Source Awards: OSCON 2013". 26 July 2013.
  6. ^ HarfBuzz 1.0 Implements Microsoft's Universal Shaping Engine Released
  7. ^ HarfBuzz 1.4 Brings OpenType GX / Font Variations
  8. ^ HarfBuzz 1.8 Released With Unicode 11 Support
  9. ^ HarfBuzz 2.0 Released For Advancing Open-Source Text Shaping
  10. ^ HarfBuz articles on Phoronix
  11. ^ "HarfBuzz". doc.dl.playstation.net. Retrieved 26 May 2019.
  12. ^ "JEP 258: HarfBuzz Font-Layout Engine". OpenJDK Enhancement Proposals. Retrieved 20 December 2017.
  13. ^ "Flutter Engine Wiki". Retrieved 11 April 2018.
  14. ^ "LibreOffice 4.1 ReleaseNotes". The Document Foundation. 30 July 2013. Retrieved 6 October 2019.
  15. ^ LibreOffice 5.3 Enables New Layout Engine By Default
  16. ^ "Scribus 1.5.3 Released". 22 May 2017. Retrieved 6 June 2018.

External links[edit]