Designing a shorthand font with FontForge

MikomasrMikomasr Posts: 6
edited April 22 in Technique and Theory

I don’t know how many of you have subscribed to the FontForge mailing list where I’ve already asked those questions (but haven’t received the answers I need yet), so I apologize in advance if this sounds familiar.

I am a complete ignorant of programming and first heard of Fontforge about two months ago. I have been trying to design a font that would allow me to type Gregg shorthand on a computer.

Because there is no baseline in Gregg shorthand (there are upward and downward straight lines and curves, and the following straight line/curve has to attach to wherever the previous one ended), I have been experimenting with the GPOS cursive lookup, and now it works well. All the strokes and curves attach to each other as they should.

However the next big thing to figure out is how to translate Gregg vowel-positioning rules into FontForge rules.
I am sharing a photo for the sake of clarity:

The basic Gregg vowels are circles. In a consonant-vowel-consonant (CVC) sequence, the consonants are either straight lines or curves.
1/The general rule says that where an angle is formed at the junction of consonants (be they straight lines or curves), the circle goes outside the angle (see on the image: LAL, GAG, VAL, VAG, BAG, MAD, DAM). When no angle is formed the circle goes inside the curve(s) (see BAL and GLAD).
2/The exception is that between two opposite curves, the circle-vowel goes inside of the second curve (see LAG, GAL).
3/Between twe lines in the same plane, the vowel goes below the lines, not on top.

Sorry if this sounds complicated... if anyone has any idea how those three basic rules could translate in terms of GSUB lookups, I’d be really grateful for your help.

Thanks in advance.



  • Max PintonMax Pinton Posts: 1
    I don't know if this is helpful, but Stanislav Jan Šarman beautifully implemented Gregg Shorthand in Metafont and wrote a paper about it. His script that let you play with it is sadly gone, but here's the paper that I've archived: Gregg shorthand.pdf

    It'd be fantastic to see an OpenType version.
  • MikomasrMikomasr Posts: 6
    Thank you Max, I know this paper and I understand close to nothing of what’s in it. I really have literally no background in programming so this is way beyond my reach unfortunately.
    All I figured out was that his script translates longhand into Gregg shorthand, while I don’t even want all that. I just want to be able to type my shorthand texts on my computer and get consistent shapes and proportions throughout (something impossible when handwriting shorthand).

    That’s why I’m hoping to get some help regarding substitution rules. Do you know what type of substitution I should experiment with in FontForge, given the (hopefully clear enough? let me know if they aren’t) explanations I gave above regarding shorthand substitution rules.

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