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SIL ViewGlyph: Introductory walkthrough notes

Bob Hallissy, 2003-03-03

These are notes for showing how to use the SIL ViewGlyph utility. The SIL ViewGlyph utility is a font browser — it lets you see what is in a font.


Installation of ViewGlyph

  • Download ViewGlyph.
  • Unzip the file you downloaded.
  • Double-click on Setup.exe to run the installation program. This will install ViewGlyph to C:Program FilesSIL ViewGlyph.


  • Times New Roman and Wingdings
  • Optionally: Encore Font System installed

Font Selection

  • Top line is font selection
    • Name, Script, Size, Bold & Italic
      • Select Times New Roman
      • Notice available scripts - compare with WordPad’s font list and Format Font dialog
        • This information is identified in the font
        • Try a different font, e.g., MS Serif and note script selections change
        • Try a symbol font, e.g., WingDings or SILDoulos IPA93
          • This is one way to determine font encoding (i.e., Symbol or UGL)
      • Size, Bold & Italic are obvious

View Selection

  • View and Codepage determine the “view” of the font:
    • Go back to Times New Roman
      • {key:Alt-N}, type “time”, press down-arrow

        Try available views, note the chart changing:

        • Glyph IDs
        • Windows character set
        • Windows Unicode
        • Apple Unicode
        • Macintosh Roman

View:First Char of chartLast Char of chart
Glyph IDs    
Windows Char set    
Windows Unicode    
Macintosh Roman    

Fill out this chart (show how to drift over chart).

  • Explain Glyph IDs, why they might want to know
  • Try a symbol font, e.g., WingDings, and look at available views
    • Not Windows Unicode, but Windows Symbol
      • This is another way to discover whether a font is symbol-encoded

View:First Char of chartLast Char of chart
Windows Symbol    

Fill out this chart for WingDings.

  • Typical Windows TrueType fonts will have at least Glyph IDs, Windows Character set, and either Windows Unicode or Windows Symbol; other entries are based on the font’s ‘cmap’ table.
    • E.g., SIL DoulosL (one of the “Library” fonts from SIL Encore Font system)
    • Also demonstrates
      • File / Open
      • Fonts don’t have to be installed
      • In fact, you can drag font files onto ViewGlyph, or provide font file as command line parameter
        • Permits “associating” with font files.

View:First Char of chartLast Char of chart
Encore SILID    

Fill out this chart for SILDoulosL or some other font from LIBFONT directory.

  • Which “Windows Character set?”
    • Select to view by Windows Character set
    • For now, make sure CodePage is “(determined by font)”
    • Expand window and adjust font size so you can see characters 32 - 255.
    • Select different scripts.
      • Here we are asking the system for a specific character set when we select the font. This is how WordPad and many other multi-lingual codepage-based apps work: A character set parameter is supplied along with the font name. Conversion to Unicode is implicit when the 8-bit text drawing API is used.
    • Select different codepages
      • NB: List represents codepages installed in your system
      • Here ViewGlyph is explicitly converting the 8-bit data to Unicode via the codepage you selected, and then drawing the letters with a Unicode text drawing API.
      • In this case, the script selection is ignored.
    • Why does ViewGlyph confuse me with two ways to select character set?
      • Because Windows provides two different mechanisms, and some apps use one way and some apps use another
      • Some fonts exhibit different behavior, particularly with 128 (x80), 142 (x8E), 158 (x9E), and 183 (xB7) (particularly with pre-WindowsXP).

Chart Window

  • API selection
    • Options / Chart Window API /
      • Simple TextOut
      • Extended TextOut
      • Extended TextOut (language processing disabled)
    • Particularly important on Windows 2000/XP:
      • See various non-Roman areas, e.g., Hebrew & Arabic
  • Status bar
    • Drift over characters in the chart
    • Try available views, note what is in status bar:
      • Glyph IDs
      • Windows character set
      • Windows Unicode
        • NOTE: Values are not contiguous.
      • Apple Unicode
      • Macintosh Roman
    • Demo SILDoulosL - no “Unicode value”
  • Click
    • Copies the character to the Sample Text Window
  • Right-click
    • ViewGlyph can be used as a “CharMap” program

Sample Text Window

  • Codes in the input window:
    • separated by spaces
    • can be entered as:
      • Single-character “ANSI”
        • Except for space
      • Decimal
      • Hex
    • Most important: Are interpreted according to the View, i.e., Glyph IDs, Windows character, Unicode Character, etc.
  • API Selection
    • Options / Sample Window API

Font Statistics Window

  • Options / View Statistics
  • Indicates information about the font Windows actually chose for you
  • Particularly useful are:
    • Font Name and otm* names
      • Useful if you ask for a font that isn’t installed, e.g.,
        • “Times”, “Century Schoolbook”
    • Number of glyphs
    • Charset and CodePage
      • Note how these track the “script”
    • Miscellaneous other information:
      • tm* data comes from TextMetric APIs
      • otm* data comes from OutlineTextMetric APIs

Cmap window

  • Options / View Cmap
  • Select whether to include “unencoded” glyphs
    • Explain what this means
  • Select which cmap by “Platform ID”
  • Caution: pan-Unicode fonts can take a while to fill (and clear!) the listbox
  • Supports sorting, multi-select and copy to clipboard

Names Window

  • Options / View Names
  • Caveat: can display only CP1252 data - all else shows as “?”
  • Tooltip can be used to see longer names
  • Supports sorting, multi-select and copy to clipboard

Final notes and caveats

  • You can print the current chart view
    • File / Print
  • When you install and uninstall fonts, ViewGlyph’s font list normally updates automatically. If it doesn’t click Options / Refresh font list or press  F5 
  • Remember that Sample Text is interpreted according to the selected view - more than one person has been fooled by this.
  • On Windows 2000/XP, font linking and fallback can still fool ViewGlyph
  • ViewGlyph can view fonts that aren’t installed:
    • Various techniques:
      • File / Open
      • File / "recently used list"
      • Drag & drop
      • Command line
      • Explorer file association:
        • Tools / Folder Options / File Types / TTF at this point details are different for different versions of Windows
    • Temporarily uninstalls same-named font

Uninstalling ViewGlyph

Click on Start / Settings / Control Panel / Add or Remove Programs to remove SIL ViewGlyph.

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