NRSI: Computers & Writing Systems
Nastaliq Navees Documentation
Please note that this font does not provide automatic support for the The Unicode Standard. The Nastaliq Navees font is an obsolete, symbol-encoded font requiring the obsolete QuickDraw GX technology. The use of Nastaliq Navees is discouraged. If you decide to download and use this font, please note there is no user support for the font. SIL has a Nastaliq style font called Awami. We also provide four other Naskh fonts: Arabic Fonts.
The Nastaliq Navees font package
The Nastaliq Navees ("Nastaliq Writer") font package provides the capability to render Arabic, Urdu, and related languages in the Nastaliq style of calligraphy. This is achieved through the use of QuickDraw GX, which allows fonts to define complex behaviors where the glyph used to render any particular character is determined by the surrounding characters; thus, any given letter in Nastaliq Navees may take on many different forms in order to join appropriately to its neighbours. Nastaliq Navees should work with any application which supports QuickDraw GX typography.
Nastaliq Navees was designed and implemented by Jonathan Kew for the Summer Institute of Linguistics (now SIL International). The entire package is copyright ©1993-2010 SIL International.
Here is a picture showing a short sample text typeset in Nastaliq Navees. (The same text in other forms, more suitable for high-resolution printing than the bitmap image here, is included in the downloadable package.)
Nastaliq Navees was originally released as shareware, but is now licensed under the SIL Open Font License (OFL)). This license allows use, modification and redistribution at no cost as long as some basic requirements are met. The text of the OFL (OFL.txt) is included in this package, along with an FAQ (OFL-FAQ.txt).
The only differences between version 2.0.1 from 1997 and the current version are the licensing and the inclusion of two additional files that provide source material for the glyph outlines. Please note that code for rebuilding the GX tables is not included, as the original build process required procedures that would be very difficult to support in current operating systems. There is no intention to update the fonts for OpenType or other current technologies.
Two versions of the Nastaliq Navees font are provided. One matches the Arabic character encoding supported by Apple's Arabic Language Kit (ALK); this allows text entered using the ALK to be rendered in Nastaliq style by simply applying the Nastaliq Navees font. The second version of the font is intended for use without the ALK; it maps normal ASCII (Roman) characters to approximate Urdu equivalents, and is intended for those who wish to use Nastaliq script without the ALK installed.
New in version 2.0 — The Nastaliq Navees fonts contain TrueType instructions ("hints") which attempt to make the characters legible on screen at moderate sizes. (This picture shows a comparison of version 1.1 (right) and 2.0 (left) fonts on-screen; note that this is a direct screen capture without anti-aliasing, unlike the other illustrations in this document.) However, because of the calligraphic nature of the script, low-resolution rendering will never be particularly attractive; there simply aren't enough pixels to adequately represent the flowing penstrokes well. I consider a 600dpi laser printer to be the minimum for satisfactory output (although 300dpi may be acceptable for some purposes); the fonts benefit greatly from the even higher resolution of an imagesetter (e.g., 1200dpi), as even at 600dpi the process of rounding "ideal" character shapes to the pixel grid can cause some visible artifacts where characters join.
Note that Nastaliq Navees is in many ways still a "work in progress"; as time permits, the character designs and behaviors are still being refined. Subsequent versions may be made available, and if so it is highly likely that they will not be completely compatible with the current fonts, in the sense that changes to the calligraphic rendering of particular words are likely to change their dimensions, leading to changes in the line-breaks and even page-breaks of existing documents when viewed with newer fonts. Hence this warning: if a document formatted using Nastaliq Navees is to be kept long-term in electronic form, and if the exact layout is important, it would be wise to archive the particular version of the font used along with the document.