This week Aaron Bell published a liberated Microsoft Font Validator on Github under the MIT libre license:
Buggy fonts benefit no one and having the Microsoft Font Validator available for all foundries and type designers to contribute to keeping updated is great news
I'd like to congratulate Aaron and especially Hin-Tak Leung for making this possible
This tool was developed mainly in the 1990s, and had fallen into an unmaintained state. The version downloadable from the Microsoft typography web site is from 2003 and it performs 177 tests.
Aaron and I spoke about liberating it so it could be brought up to modern standards in NYC last year, and after getting approval from his team I sought out some volunteers to take a look.
The main obstacle to liberating the tool was that it partially depended on the Windows font rendering system which was unlikely to be liberated, and less importantly, parts of MSIE for XML report rendering.
The corresponding libre renderer is FreeType and Hin-Tak Leung, a FreeType developer, volunteered; his experience with Mono, the libre implementation of Microsofts app platform, made the work ahead to make it run with and without Windows somewhat familiar.
Aaron was then able to pass Hin-Tak parts of the source code that was updated inside MS around 2009, for the last OpenType spec being prepared at that time as well as testing for ClearType rasterization. The 2009 code does 194 tests.
Today Mono on non-windows can be used to build and run it, and Hin-Tak is mainly developing it using GNU+Linux, and i works on Mac OS X also.
Hin-Tak did an amazing job and now that it runs, Aaron has been able to finally post it publicly. Also my thanks to Cosimo Lupo at Dalton Maag for testing and verifying Hin-Tak's work along the way
The 189/194 status in the commit message on the MS repo today is a reference to when the code first passed through Hin-Tak's hands, as 5 of the 194 test did not work; Hin-Tak has since got it up to all but one failing, the DSIG digital signature verification. This version is in his fork, https://github.com/HinTak/Font-Validator
Hin-Tak's near-term roadmap is:
However, finishing those and other remaining pieces sounds like a full time job for a few months - so Hin-Tak would welcome interested parties to commission him to continue. Would anyone here contribute to a crowdfund for that?
Also, MS requires contributors to sign their microsoft-contribution-license-agreement.pdf - does anyone thinking of contributing have any objections to doing so?