fuzzy notepad

Tagged: typography

[blog] Dark corners of Unicode

I’m assuming, if you are on the Internet and reading kind of a nerdy blog, that you know what Unicode is. At the very least, you have a very general understanding of it — maybe “it’s what gives us emoji”.

That’s about as far as most people’s understanding extends, in my experience, even among programmers. And that’s a tragedy, because Unicode has a lot of… ah, depth to it. Not to say that Unicode is a terrible disaster — more that human language is a terrible disaster, and anything with the lofty goals of representing all of it is going to have some wrinkles.

So here is a collection of curiosities I’ve encountered in dealing with Unicode that you generally only find out about through experience. Enjoy.

Also, I strongly recommend you install the Symbola font, which contains basic glyphs for a vast number of characters. They may not be pretty, but they’re better than seeing the infamous Unicode lego.

[blog] I stared into the fontconfig, and the fontconfig stared back at me

Wow! My Patreon experiment has been successful enough that I’m finally obliged to write one post per month, and this is the first such post. Let us celebrate with a post about something near and dear to everyone’s heart: fonts. Or rather, about fontconfig.

fontconfig is a pretty impressive piece of work. If you’re on Linux, it’s probably the thing that picks default fonts, handles Unicode fallback, and magically notices when new fonts are installed without having to restart anything. It’s invisible and great.

And unfortunately once in a great while it’s wrong. There is no common GUI for configuring fontconfig, so you’re stuck manually editing XML configuration files — for which the documentation is atrocious.

Lucky for you, and unlucky for me, I have twice now had to delve down this rabbit hole. Here is my story, that others may be saved from this madness.