Linked by Thom Holwerda on Fri 7th Oct 2016 09:40 UTC

A big challenge in sharing digital information around the world is "tofu" - the blank boxes that appear when a computer or website isn't able to display text: ⯐. Tofu can create confusion, a breakdown in communication, and a poor user experience.

Five years ago we set out to address this problem via the Noto - a.k.a. "No more tofu" - font project. Today, Google's open-source Noto font family provides a beautiful and consistent digital type for every symbol in the Unicode standard, covering more than 800 languages and 110,000 characters.

A single font with a uniform style covering 110000 characters - this is quite impressive.

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Incredibly excited
by TasnuArakun on Fri 7th Oct 2016 11:46 UTC
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As a writing systems geek I'm incredibly excited by the Noto project. I've spent quite some time over the years trying to build my own collection of free fonts covering all (well, most) of Unicode. They weren't always very visually pleasing and some contained minor errors. There were also a few writing systems where I failed to find any Unicode fonts, notably Javanese and Balinese.

Of course, fonts are only part of the picture. There also needs to be instructions for how the writing system is structured. For those who don't know there are two ways to store these instructions: in the software or in the font. The former is used by OpenType by Microsoft and Adobe and the latter is used by AAT by Apple and Graphite by SIL. Whether a specific font will work depends on the type of instructions and whether they are supported or not by the software. This can even vary from application to application since these may include their own rendering engine. Thus copying text from one application to another can change how a text is rendered, which is totally infuriating.

These days I'm a regular lurker over at the Noto bug tracker picking up interesting tidbits on different writing systems. ;)

Reply Score: 5

RE: Incredibly excited
by sakeniwefu on Sun 9th Oct 2016 07:12 UTC in reply to "Incredibly excited"
sakeniwefu Member since:

The work needed to generate an unified look and feel for all the glyphs is to be praised but I wonder if there is any work on the encoding.
As long as Unicode stays broken, giving more thought to emojis and Klingon, than to Chinese and Japanese, there is little hope for an universal font.

Reply Score: 2

RE[2]: Incredibly excited
by TasnuArakun on Sun 9th Oct 2016 10:35 UTC in reply to "RE: Incredibly excited"
TasnuArakun Member since:

Google is a member of the Unicode Consortium. It's hard to address your post without any concrete examples. Yes, there are a ton of problems with Unicode (some inherited from older encodings for compatibility reasons). As someone who reads Unicode proposals for fun(!) I've seen my fair share of controversies. Still, I think it does a pretty awesome job. One huge challenge is that it's really hard to fix things once they've been committed without breaking compatibility.

Han Unification and Emoji seem to be the two biggest sources of controversy. Han Unification stems from the fact that Unicode was conceived as a 16 bit script at the time and would simply not have fit all characters. The main criticism though seems to be that 1) East Asian countries were not involved in the initial design and 2) unification makes it hard for scholars to type historical forms of some characters.

As for Emoji… oh boy! It was never ment to become as big as it did and now it's stealing all attention. At this point it looks like it's slowly evolving into an extremely haphazard universal language.

BTW, there was an article a while back critizising the Unicode Consortium ( ). To me it came of as quite whiny and non-constructive. It did make me read up on the Bengali/Assamese script (another controversy!) though, so I guess something good came of it.

Edit: I forgot to point out the fact that the Klingon script has "been investigated and rejected as unsuitable for encoding". Tolkien's Tengwar and Cirth still have code points reserved but are stuck in perpetual limbo having never been accepted for inclusion despite the proposals being almost 20 years old.

Edited 2016-10-09 10:51 UTC

Reply Score: 2

RE[3]: Incredibly excited
by dionicio on Mon 10th Oct 2016 16:34 UTC in reply to "RE[2]: Incredibly excited"
dionicio Member since:

Plausibly best approach for the Consortium could be to take it as a fresh, alternative project. Endorsing, but not trying to 'mix & match' a mature with a young, still unsettled standard.

Reply Score: 2

The Universal Font...
by dionicio on Fri 7th Oct 2016 15:48 UTC
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Kudos to Google and their Developer Community.

[%]D This is a Global Achievement. Expecting to hear a lot more about this new universal font.

Edited 2016-10-07 15:49 UTC

Reply Score: 3

Deja Vu
by Carewolf on Sat 8th Oct 2016 17:39 UTC
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This gives me a strong sense of Deja Vu (Sans and Serif))

Reply Score: 3