Variable Fonts & Text Rendering BoF

See the main unconference page for time and location information.


Last September, the OpenType 1.8 specification was released, bringing some deep changes to the OTF file format. The most significant is Variable Fonts, a way of encoding multiple weights, widths, and styles of a font family into a single binary file. Toolkits can present a single variable font to application code as if it were a faily of fonts, or they can allow the variations to be interpolated on the fly.

This BoF will look at what it will take for GNOME to support the new format at the toolkit, application, and desktop-environment levels.

Other font rendering issues that we want to discuss: color fonts (emoji), gamma-corrected compositing for text

In addition, we want to discuss maintenance of Pango.


  • A brief look at the new format
  • State of OTF1.8 support: FreeType, HarfBuzz, Fontconfig, Pango

  • Backward compatibility
  • Exposing intepolation / variation axes
  • Do free-software fonts need to be converted to OTF1.8?

Other text rendering topics of interest:


Anyone with an interest in GTK+ and GNOME application development is invited to attend. Variable fonts are still new, and most of the work so far has focused on web applications. People interested in supporting the format at the library and toolkit level would find the session the most beneficial.

There is still a ways to go before end-user applications need to worry about presenting variable fonts to users, but that day might arrive sooner than we think, so those interested in the UI and UX challenges are more than welcome to join as well.



People who are planning on or are expected to attend:

Blog Posts

Background reading:

Blog posts about the session:

  • ...
  • ...
  • ...

GUADEC/2017/Unconference/VariableFontsBoF (last edited 2017-07-15 18:24:02 by MatthiasClasen)