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NRSI: Computers & Writing Systems

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Short URL: http://scripts.sil.org/Harmattan

Harmattan

Arabic script font for West African languages

Lorna Evans, 2016-04-13

Note

The Harmattan page has been moved to a new web site. Please  click here for the new site.













Note

The Harmattan page has been moved to a new web site. Please  click here for the new site.



Overview

The original font on which Harmattan was based was an SIL Open Font License (OFL)-licensed typeface called Fouta AS, designed for one specific region in West Africa. However, significant design changes have been made as the font has been extended to handle a wider variety of languages using the Arabic script. Harmattan, named after the trade winds that blow during the winter in West Africa, is designed in a Warsh style to suit the needs of languages using the Arabic script in West Africa. The Latin letters are subset of the Andika font.

Character repertoire

Because the font style is specifically intended for West Africa, the character set for this font is aimed at West African languages. Thus, Asia-specific characters are not included.

Unicode blockHarmattan
Arabic1
Arabic Supplement2
Arabic Extended-A3
Arabic Presentation Forms-A
Arabic Presentation Forms-B
Codepage 1252 (Western)4

A selection of characters from the General Punctuation block, such as various-sized spaces, are also supported; a utility such as SIL ViewGlyph can be used to examine the exact repertoire of this font.

Running Text

Please review the pdfs below in order to get a feel for how text will flow.

Harmattan Sample Text, 12pt
Becca Hirsbrunner, 2015-04-06
Download "Harm_Text12pt1.000.pdf", Acrobat PDF document, 78KB [531 downloads]
Harmattan Sample Text, 30pt
Becca Hirsbrunner, 2015-04-06
Download "Harm_Text30ptv1.000.pdf", Acrobat PDF document, 42KB [412 downloads]

Software requirements

Arabic script is a complex and difficult script, and this complexity is compounded by the fact that Arabic script is used for  many different languages and cultures with variations in acceptable calligraphic style. From a computer perspective at least, the technologies used to implement Arabic script are not yet fully mature. The result is that while a given font might work for one set of languages on a given software platform, the same font might not work for other languages or on other platforms. This means that it is very difficult to give an accurate answer to the question of software requirements.

Basic rendering

This Arabic font utilizes OpenType and  Graphite technology to provide rendering information needed by application and system software. Usability of the features provided in these fonts will depend on the exact capabilities of your software.

OpenType

The font supports the OpenType shaping features specified by  Microsoft. The result is that the fonts work pretty well in Microsoft Office XP (or later) as well as in most  Uniscribe-based applications such as  Paratext 6+ and  Toolbox. Uniscribe in versions of Windows prior to Windows 8.1 does not include support for Unicode 6.1 and so does not support the Arabic Extended-A characters (U+08A0..U+08FF), nor a few new characters in the 06xx block. Windows 8.1 supports all Arabic script characters through Unicode 6.1 (including the new  Arabic Extended-A characters). Mozilla's  Firefox and  Thunderbird do provide OpenType support for the new Arabic Extended-A characters.

 International Components for Unicode (ICU) includes a shaping engine for Arabic text and thus applications such as XeTeX that use ICU Layout will be able to render text using SIL's Arabic fonts. The ICU Layout library used in XeTeX (TeXLive 2012) has been updated to support the Arabic Supplement characters added in Unicode 5.1 (but not 6.1).

The rendering engine in Adobe's InDesign CS6 has also been updated to support the Arabic Supplement characters added in Unicode 5.1 (but not 6.0, 6.1 or 7.0).

If you are aware of specific software environments where these fonts are known to work (or not work), we would like to hear from you.

Graphite

This font supports the Graphite rendering engine. See  here for a list of applications that support Graphite.

Advanced features

Harmattan provides alternate glyphs for a number of characters. These are implemented in 3 different ways (OpenType,  Graphite and SIL TypeTuner Web) for support in different applications and rendering systems. Ideally the selection of these font features is done in application programs, but many applications do not yet support this functionality. In response to this lack of support for features, a program called TypeTuner (command line version: SIL TypeTuner and web-based version: SIL TypeTuner Web) allows users to create derivative fonts with their own feature settings based on the needs of a local project or region.

These features are documented in this document:

Font Features for Harmattan
Lorna Evans, 2015-04-06
Download "Harm_Features1.000.pdf", Acrobat PDF document, 147KB [552 downloads]

Character variants

This font now supports OpenType's character variant feature. There are approximately 16 character variants in the font. Currently, the only application that supports character variants is  Mozilla Firefox.

These character variants are also available with  Graphite rendering and can also be selected as part of a derivative font with SIL TypeTuner Web.

U+06DD ARABIC END OF AYAH and subtending marks (U+0600..U+0604)

These Arabic characters are intended to enclose or hold one or more digits. Many applications are able to display these properly. Occasionally some applications may require the following hack:

  • precede the entire sequence (subtending mark plus following digits) with
    • U+202D LEFT-TO-RIGHT OVERRIDE OR
    • U+202E RIGHT-TO-LEFT OVERRIDE
  • follow the entire sequence with U+202C POP DIRECTIONAL FORMATTING.

Exactly which of these might work depends on your application. (For typesetting with XeTeX, this can be automated using the “font mapping” feature to insert the directional controls needed.)

Additionally, Harmattan includes two simplified alternates for U+06DD ARABIC END OF AYAH under the Stylistic Alternates (salt) feature, but at this time we know of no OpenType-based applications that can access these. The two alternates are also available through the Character Variants feature which is supported in Mozilla Firefox.

The subtending marks are also available with  Graphite rendering and the End of ayah variants can be selected as part of a derivative font with SIL TypeTuner Web.

The characters and behavior for the subtending marks are listed below:

BehaviorHarmattan
U+0600 ARABIC NUMBER SIGN 1-3 digits
U+0601 ARABIC SIGN SANAH 1-4 digits
U+0602 ARABIC FOOTNOTE MARKER 1-2 digits
U+0603 ARABIC SIGN SAFHA 1-3 digits
U+0604 ARABIC SIGN SAMVAT 1-4 digits
U+06DD ARABIC END OF AYAH 1-3 digits; stylistic alternates

License

Harmattan is released under the SIL Open Font License (OFL), version 1.1.

Copyright (c) 2007-2008, The C&MA Guinea Fulbe Team;

Copyright renewed 2011-2012, George W. Nuss ( http://www.fulbefouta.com), with the Reserved Font Name "Fouta".

Copyright (c) 2004-2015, SIL International (http://scripts.sil.org), with Reserved Font Names 'Andika' and 'SIL'.

Copyright (c) 2015, SIL International ( http://www.sil.org/), with Reserved Font Names "Harmattan" and "SIL".

Font Download

If you agree to the terms of use (described in the license above), then download the fonts from the following links.

Subscribe to SIL Font News announce list

If you wish to receive announcements about updates to Harmattan, or any of our SIL fonts, please go to this page to subscribe: SIL Font News subscription.

Harmattan Release ver. 1.001

Changes in this version:

  • Changed internal font names
  • changed space of U+00A0 to match regular space
Harmattan
Harmattan Regular, ver. 1.001 (Graphite and OpenType)
NRSI team, 2016-04-13
Download "Harmattan-Regular_1.001.zip", ZIP archive, 568KB [261 downloads]

If you are uncertain what to do with a .zip file, see Decompression Utilities, Downloading & Font Installation Tips. Within the archive is the font file and documentation.

This font can be installed using standard font installation procedures for the given operating-system platform. Note that certain applications may not see the new font immediately. You may have to quit and restart the application for the font to become available.
  See below for developer package of previous version.
  See below for Ubuntu package of previous version.

Harmattan Previous Version (ver. 1.000)

Harmattan
Harmattan Regular, ver. 1.000 (Graphite and OpenType)
NRSI team, 2015-04-06
Download "Harmattan-1.000.zip", ZIP archive, 568KB [1664 downloads]

If you are uncertain what to do with a .zip file, see Decompression Utilities, Downloading & Font Installation Tips. Within the archive is the font file and documentation.

This font can be installed using standard font installation procedures for the given operating-system platform. Note that certain applications may not see the new font immediately. You may have to quit and restart the application for the font to become available.
Harmattan 1.000 font developer release (Windows, Macintosh and Linux)
NRSI team, 2015-04-16
Download "Harmattan-1.000-developer.zip", ZIP archive, 1MB [527 downloads]
This package contains the same files as Harmattan-1.000.zip plus the FontLab, .otf, VOLT, Graphite and anchor source files.

Ubuntu repository

Ubuntu repository on packages.sil.org Installation Instructions
Ubuntu software repository

This font is available in the SIL software repository for Ubuntu on  http://packages.sil.org.

Ubuntu users can subscribe to this software repository and get current versions and updates automatically. See the  detailed instructions about adding the repository.

1 does not include U+0605..U+0608, U+060B, U+060D..U+060F, U+0615..U+0618, U+061A, U+0659, U+065F, U+0672..U+0673, U+0675..U+0679, U+067C, U+067F..U+0681, U+0687..U+0688, U+0690..U+0691, U+0693, U+0696, U+0699, U+06A6, U+06AB, U+06B0..U+06B4, U+06BB..U+06BC, U+06BE, U+0605..U+0608, U+06C1..U+06C5, U+06C7, U+06CD, U+06D3, U+06DE, U+06E1, U+06E9, U+06F0..U+06F9, U+06FD..U+06FF
2 does not include U+0759, U+075C, U+0768, U+076C, U+076E..U+077D
3 does not include U+08AA..U+08AD, U+08B0..U+08B1, U+08E4..U+08E9, U+08FE
4 Inclusion of basic Latin repertoire is provided as a convenience, e.g., for use in menus or for displaying markup in text files; these fonts are not intended for extensive Latin script use.

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