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Google Releases sfntly Font Programming Library as Open Source

Stuart Gill, sfntly architect at Google, announced the release of the sfntly font programming library as open source last week in a blog post.

"Created by the Google Internationalization Engineering team, the sfntly Java and C++ library makes it easy for programmers to build high performance font manipulation applications and services," he wrote.

In an interview with NetworkWorld, Gill explained, "sfntly allows for the manipulation of fonts very quickly in a now open source library. Being able to do that means that it we (Google) can subset fonts to send out as Web Fonts and for printing in Chrome. That subsetting is fast enough to be done in 'real time' as requests happen." Gill says that the subset fonts can be optimized to specific platform requirements and for specific character and feature usage.

With sftnly (\s-’font-lē\), font objects are both thread safe and high performance, while still providing access for editing, according to Gill's blog post. "After about a year of internal development sfntly is stable enough to move it into open source and share with others," he wrote.

Gill says that the current set of uses is only the tip of the iceberg. "sfntly makes it possible for font tools to be written by others with a lot greater ease than in the past," he explains.

sfntly currently has editing support for most core TrueType and OpenType tables, but Gill says that Google plans to support more of the table types used in fonts by various standards. "Adding support for those will allow for better optimized Web Fonts and for broader international support for scripts such as Arabic, Thai, and Malayalam," he adds. "Further beyond those, we think that there are possibilities for people to build better tools and applications for creating and using fonts."

To learn more about the project, visit: http://code.google.com/p/sfntly/

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