We've been discussing this font and related family members a bit on
the UYIP mailing list, of which I'm moderator.  (Web site:

I said I thought the quality of these fonts for Hebrew was rather high
(modulo these issues).  Raphael Finkel, creator of the "Yiddish
Typewriter" website
(http://www.cs.uky.edu/~raphael/yiddish/makeyiddish.html) and author
of several Yiddish fonts, had some praise, but also some criticism.
I'm sharing them with you with his permission:

  I looked at FreeSans.ttf with fontforge.  It uses neither kerning nor
  anchors, at least for the Hebrew component.  (It does use anchors for
  other components.)
  Instead, it plays a nasty trick: it sets the width of the vowels to 0
  (they stick out far to the right of the left=right border).  That means
  that you won't necessarily get the proper kerning for all combinations.
  pasekh-daled, for instance, should have the pasekh under the stroke of
  the daled, but pasekh-he should have it centered under the letter.  In
  fact, khirik-yud places the khirik too far to the right, and
  pasekh-tsvey-yudn has the pasekh too far to the right.
  The fact that anchors are not used also means that the khirik is not
  raised when placed under a yud; a pasekh is not raised under a
  However, the pre-composed versions of these combinations have proper
  positioning, so software that converts combinations to their
  pre-composed (ligature) forms presents them nicely.  (gedit does not)
  So I would consider this only a medium-quality font as far as
  Hebrew/Yiddish nekudes are concerned.  But the letters are quite


  pasekh = Unicode PATAH (U+05B7)

  khirik = HIRIQ (U+05B4)

  khirik-yud = YOD + HIRIQ (U+05D9 + U+05B4)

  pasekh-tsvey-yudn = DOUBLE-YOD + PATAH (U+05F2 + U+05B7)

  pasekh-daled = DALET + PATAH (U+05D3 + U+05B7)

  pasekh-he = HE + PATAH (U+05D4 + U+05B7)

Based on my own visual inspection, I notice that there are several
problems with the placement of diacritics ("nikudes"), from acceptable
but just a bit off in most cases to very far off and unacceptable.
I'll have to delay making a more detailed report or several reports
about that, but hopefully I will do it soon.

Regarding the part about khirik-yud and pasekh-tsvey-yudn, these apply
strictly to Yiddish.  When I objected about this to Raphael, he
clarified this further:

  It has become standard in printed Yiddish to raise the khirik and
  pasekh under yud or yudn.  You are right; in Hebrew it would look

So this is kind of a fine point.  It's acceptable not to do this even
for Yiddish, especially for a general Hebrew font.  It would be ideal
to do with "language sensitivity", i.e., if there's a way to generate
different glyphs based on language, e.g., Yiddish vs. Hebrew.  But I
don't know if the the truetype or opentype font technologies and
related rendering systems even allow for this.

Anyhow, all in all, I think these fonts are very promising.  They're
quite usable for everyday Hebrew (no use of diacritics), and mostly
usable with Yiddish after a problem or two I'll soon report gets fixed
(extremely limited use of diacritics), and somewhat usable for 
Hebrew with vowels (extremely heavy use of diacritics).  
I look forward to sending more bug reports, and thanks for your 
work so far and interest in making improvements.



----- Original message -----
From: "Steve White" <stevan.wh...@googlemail.com>
To: "Mark H. David" <m...@yv.org>
Cc: freefont-bugs@gnu.org
Date: Fri, 20 Mar 2009 00:24:06 +0100
Subject: Re: [Freefont-bugs] bug #25887: FreeSans Hebrew most nonspacing marks  
are spacing


I responded to the bug report.

In order to see the progress of a bug, either make a proper Savannah
account and submit the bug as that user, or I can attach your e-mail
address to bug reports.

So...in your report, you said at first there was a problem with
FreeSans, and then that recent versions do not have the problem
(thanks for noticing!  I think you're the first to write in about

But I don't know how you feel about the current state.  If you see
further specific problems, please don't hesitate to file a bug report.
 We do our best to attend to them promptly.

Also: I think the Hebrew range in FreeSerif is a mess (although I
spent a lot of time trying to improve it).  I think the glyphs didn't
even originate from the same font.  The roman and bold are definately
not in accord.  Furthermore, I don't think the current letters fit the
rest of FreeFont very well. So...I mean to replace the whole thing.
I've just been busy.


On Thu, Mar 19, 2009 at 8:40 PM, Mark H. David <m...@yv.org> wrote:
> I submitted and gave an update on this bug:
>  bug #25887: FreeSans Hebrew most nonspacing marks are spacing
> Could someone take a look at it and maybe comment?
> I just joined this list, so comment in the bug or here.
> Thanks,
> Mark

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