Beta

Stix Scientific Fonts Reach Beta Release

Zonk posted more than 6 years ago | from starseeker

159

starseeker writes "At long last, the STIX project has posted a Beta release of their scientific fonts. The mission of the STIX project has been the 'preparation of a comprehensive set of fonts that serve the scientific and engineering community in the process from manuscript creation through final publication, both in electronic and print formats.' The result is a font set containing thousands of characters, and hopefully a font set that will become a staple for scientific publishing. Among other uses, it has long been hoped that this would make the wide scale use of MathML in browsers possible. Despite rather long delays the project has persisted and is now showing concrete results."

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chicken (1, Funny)

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chicken

Re:chicken (4, Funny)

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Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago

you get the first post... and you say chicken..?

Re:chicken (0, Redundant)

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egg

Re:chicken (2, Insightful)

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God_Retired | more than 6 years ago

And so the age old mind puzzle is put to rest.

Re:chicken (2, Informative)

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Re:chicken (1)

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stuff and such | more than 6 years ago

almost off topic, but it's saturday night, so completely fitting.

arg (5, Insightful)

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Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago

Why exactly was it necessary to link to the user agreement rather than say an example of the fonts or something a tad more useful?

Re:arg (0)

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Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago

Agreed, this article is completely worthless with examples, and since i cant render fonts i dont have (and im not signing up for spam to do it!!!), i will only accept my examples in either jpeg or png image formats, thank you.

PS: Someone please post a link to some examples of this wonderfont.

Re:arg (4, Informative)

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19thNervousBreakdown | more than 6 years ago

They don't validate the e-mail address.

Re:arg (2, Interesting)

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Zarel | more than 6 years ago

They don't validate the e-mail address.

They do very basic validation. asdf@asdf generates an error; asdf@asdf.asdf generates an error; asdf@asdf.asd does not. Apparently, the TLD needs to be exactly three characters; any e-mail address at a .info domain (e.g. example@example.info) will generate an error.

Re:arg (1)

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cyphercell | more than 6 years ago

well let's hope they can do math... oh wait!

Re:arg (1)

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19thNervousBreakdown | more than 6 years ago

Weird. a@a.a worked.

Re:arg (1)

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mstahl | more than 6 years ago

Probably so that two-letter TLDs like .it and .us and .co.uk still work.

Licensing is a critical part of the software. (4, Interesting)

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jbn-o | more than 6 years ago

I am glad to see the license for the fonts being published clearly and prominently so it can be reviewed along with the fonts. I recall submitting critique of an earlier license for the fonts, pointing out that the license didn't allow modification (important for improvement) or subsetting (important in PDFs). It was unfortunate that these fonts were aimed at an academic audience, people who were remarkably likely to want to improve the fonts to suit their needs, yet were disallowed from doing so under the old license. The revised license appears to have remedied my issues with their previous license; this license allows modification, subsetting, copying, and distribution (including commercial distribution) all with remarkably mild restrictions that (in my opinion) would not stop this from being a Free Software license.

Because the license allows distribution of the fonts and "the associated documentation files", you could probably find a copy of the font software somewhere that doesn't make you go through a click-through, as well as a sample rendering.

Re:Licensing is a critical part of the software. (5, Informative)

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juhtolv | more than 6 years ago

According to people in debian-legal -mailinglist that latest license is not yet free enough. Also, IIRC those fonts can not be included to TeX Live, because license is not yet free enough. Problem is this: Not every kind of modification is allowed. You can remove or add glyphs and modify them, but there are also other things that can be done to fonts, for example modifying kerning.

Re:Licensing is a critical part of the software. (3, Informative)

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zeromorph | more than 6 years ago

Why are they doing this? There's a nice FLOSS license for fonts: the OFL.

As a linguist I do not like the SIL as a institution, but their fonts and the license under which the fonts are distributed are without any doubt great.

Re:Licensing is a critical part of the software. (1)

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narrowhouse | more than 6 years ago

Sorry for the off-topic, but out of curiosity, what is it that you don't like about SIL as an institution? I know very little about them outside of the information on their site and given their growing notability in the font arena I would like to gather a little more info.

Re:Licensing is a critical part of the software. (4, Informative)

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zeromorph | more than 6 years ago

They discredited linguistics as a science in many countries of Asia, Africa and South America - especially through their missionary work and their connections to US governmental agencies (e.g. CIA) and US corporations. That's not the SIL alone, but they are the biggest and most powerful organization of that kind. And, they actually carry linguistics in their name. You can't work as a linguist in many countries without being permanently considered as a missionary or worse.

Because of their religious and political activity they were thrown out of several Latin American states where they acted much more aggressively than in Africa and Asia. (There are several books on that subject, but I can't tell which is actually good. The SIL says - of course - none.)

To sum it up, they use science as a cover for their religious-political agenda - as a scientist that makes me very angry.

But to be fair, their fonts (and XeTeX for that matter) are great stuff and a lot of people associated with them do respectable, even tremendous, work.

Re:arg (0)

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Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago

Stix put out some good stuff early on, Suite Madame Blue, Light Up (obvious mary j reference), Crystal Ball, Mademoiselle, but everything from Grand Illusion on was total crizzap. And the piece de resistance -- piece de shizat -- was Domo Mo Rigato Mr Roboto. So I'm not too looking forward to a "beta release" from these hucksters.

Re:arg (0)

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Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago

And the piece de resistance -- piece de shizat -- was Domo Mo Rigato Mr Roboto. So I'm not too looking forward to a "beta release" from these hucksters.
No, that is a different Stix.

And the name of the song is simply Mr. Roboto

"Mo Rigato" was he the bass player?;-) The line you may be referring to is "Domo arigato Mr. Roboto" (Japanese for "Thank you very much, Mr. Roboto").

I'm sorry was that a troll I just fed;-)

Re:arg (0)

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Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago

If you know of a good site with examples, please link to it! I can't find one, and I haven't (yet) had time to create one.

Re:arg (1)

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bcmm | more than 6 years ago

I *think* that every section of the site now redirects to the download section. Possibly a temporary defence against Slashdotting.

awesome (1, Insightful)

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ILuvRamen | more than 6 years ago

Well good, they needed a font set that had all the symbols you'd ever want to type in science. Only one little problem though...how do you type it? You'd either need a seriously huge keyboard, someone to memorize thousands of key combinations on a current keyboard, or an on screen keyboard program. Each of those options is unacceptably slow or difficult. Plus right now, we have alt codes that almost nobody knows about or uses and the character map built into XP with searchability. So um...what did they invent that we don't already have other than a font?

Re:awesome (5, Informative)

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juhtolv | more than 6 years ago

Stupid. Those fonts are primarily meant for TeX-based applications, for example LaTeX. rarely used characters are written with commands that start with backslash, for example: \ldots .

Re:awesome (1)

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davetd02 | more than 6 years ago

They have a great set for today, but what happens when new symbols are needed? Is there a clear version path so that future updates are backwards-compatible, and it's clear who has which version? I'd hate to send a manuscript to the printer only to find out that I had version 2.0 and they had version 3.0.

they needed a font set that had all the symbols you'd ever want to type in science

Re:awesome (3, Informative)

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juhtolv | more than 6 years ago

It is Unicode-font. Therefore your problem _may_ exist only with those characters that are mapped to Private Use Area. It seems those fonts have some characters that are not yet in Unicode.

Re:awesome (2, Funny)

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forkazoo | more than 6 years ago

ILuvRamen says:

Well good, they needed a font set that had all the symbols you'd ever want to type in science. Only one little problem though...how do you type it? You'd either need a seriously huge keyboard, someone to memorize thousands of key combinations on a current keyboard, or an on screen keyboard program.

Summary says:

Among other uses, it has long been hoped that this would make the wide scale use of MathML in browsers possible.

Ramen, meet Summary. Summary, meet Ramen. MathML FTW, natch.

Re:awesome (0)

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ILuvRamen | more than 6 years ago

buuuuuuuuut the article isn't about the invention of MathML. It's about a font. Times New Roman can type every single character on the character map, which is a FUCKING LOT of scientific characters. So they made a new font with a few more sciency characters and they're just kinda hoping MathML will maybe use it but otherwise there's absolutely no use for it at all at the moment? You see where I'm going here? It's kinda a stupid invention with no real purpose at the moment.

Re:awesome (2, Informative)

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Enderandrew | more than 6 years ago

Times New Roman provides more scientific characters than the average home user will ever need. However, it does not meet he needs of the academic crowd, hence the need for this project. And instead of sprinkling a few characters across many fonts, it makes more sense to have a dedicate font (or fonts) where you know to look specifically for scientific symbols.

Re:awesome (4, Insightful)

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ScriptedReplay | more than 6 years ago

Times New Roman can type every single character on the character map, which is a FUCKING LOT of scientific characters.

Umm, no. It's a fucking lot of Latin characters, but pitiful wrt scientific notation. Check out the AMS symbol fonts in LaTeX if you want to get a clue.

Re:awesome (2, Informative)

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ortholattice | more than 6 years ago

Even better, check out the The Comprehensive LaTeX Symbol List (PDF file). For a quick and dirty overview of what kinds of symbols aren't in Times New Roman, a large scientific/mathematical subset of these have been converted to screen bitmaps: GIF and PNG Images for Math Symbols.

Re:awesome (0)

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Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago

how do you type it?
Escape Meta Alt Control Shift =)

Re:awesome (1)

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ingmar | more than 6 years ago

Not much of an issue. There is software for that, some formula editors, or people use TeX in the first place, etc. Also, just because you have a large arsenal of symbols at your disposal does not mean you will need all of them. As a mathematician, say, you will probably only need a handful of non standard ones in any given paper, and those are easy to access. Where this matters most is on the receiving end: Here, on the other hand, we have one font that can display virtually all the symbols you would ever need, and the end user need not worry about inputting them.

Re:awesome (0)

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Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago

>Only one little problem though...how do you type it? You'd either need a seriously
>huge keyboard, someone to memorize thousands of key combinations on a current
>keyboard, or an on screen keyboard program.

May be the same (easy) way we type any ucs coded character :
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/SCIM
http://www.scim-im.org/

You already have a LaTeX mode in scim to input and output ucs/utf characters.

TeX (1, Informative)

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eggman9713 | more than 6 years ago

Umm, we already have a perfectly good standard solution. It's called TeX.

Re:TeX (1, Informative)

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juhtolv | more than 6 years ago

Read that fscking website, you idiot! Those fonts are primarily meant for TeX-based applications, for example LaTeX. Yes, LaTeX has umpteen gazillion packages for writing all those exotic mathematical operators, but STIX Fonts provides them totally consistent outlook.

Re:TeX (2)

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eggman9713 | more than 6 years ago

I am not sure what you mean by "consistent outlook". If you mean a consistent appearance, that is what TeX is for in the first place.

Re:TeX (2, Insightful)

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juhtolv | more than 6 years ago

But nowadays it does not work like that in practice. Many of those LaTeX-packages have some fonts that do not sit well with some other fonts that may be in same LaTeX-document. One reason for creating STIX Fonts is to rectif that situation.

On the other hand, those default fonts of TeX (Computer Modern) are not very suitable for reading from screen. STIX Fonts have Times-like appearance.

Re:TeX (2, Insightful)

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zippthorne | more than 6 years ago

On the other hand, those default fonts of TeX (Computer Modern) are not very suitable for reading from screen. STIX Fonts have Times-like appearance.
emph. mine.

Now that is ironic. Although I disagree that Times is a better font for screen reading. It's all squishdy and pointy.

Re:TeX (1)

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Trogre | more than 6 years ago

I think I'd rather vote Grimlock.

Re:TeX (0)

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Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago

I agree... and times is UGLY... far more so than computer modern.

Use a computer that understands anti-aliasing (If you're on a linux box with an LCD screen, I suggest you fix subpixel aliasing by switching the configuration for the order of the colors of pixels in each square... LCD's are generally flipped from CRT's... if your own windows antialiasing on an LCD is just ugly as far as I know). Ever try xpdf? It's great. Even gv has decent antialiasing support these days, though often you have to turn it on explicitly. xdvi isn't quite as good as xpdf, but it's readable. If your really picky try "evince" I've heard it's "better" (which in my opinion means slower and more bloated, but to each their own).

Re:TeX (1, Informative)

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Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago

Regrettably, this beta test will not include TeX support. We expect the TeX package to be ready for beta test near the end of this year.

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porneL | more than 6 years ago

Can't find anything useful on the website (without giving e-mail address), here's why: <a class="starter" accesskey="5" title="STIX Beta Test" href="#">STIX Beta Test</a>

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insertwackynamehere | more than 6 years ago

Um it looks like a script where in order to download it, you need to give them you're email...what's weird about that?

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Re:Where's navigation (going to)? (4, Informative)

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sarge apone | more than 6 years ago

Drill down to the Project page: http://www.stixfonts.org/project.html And the American Mathematical Society STIX project page has some examples: http://www.ams.org/STIX/private/stixprv-E2.html

Re:Where's navigation (going to)? (2, Informative)

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sarge apone | more than 6 years ago

http://www.ams.org/STIX/private/stixprv-index.html

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Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago

So give them some fakeemail@ddre.ss. Or if they mail a password (they don't), some throwaway@pookmail.com. Their problem if they require one. Same goes for all those blogs that require an email address to comment. I just don't get it.

Equation Editor/Matlab (0)

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Stevecrox | more than 6 years ago

In university myself and my fellow EE students got through using Maple,Matlab and Equation editor from MS Word. It worked well for us, if someone could have ported the maple into word in a usefull fashion (equation editor is slow at times) that would have been perfect.

The idea of learning a several thousand large charracter set with all the associated keyboard shortcuts holds no interest for me, I'm pretty certain no other engineer on my course would have even attempted it. Perhaps these people could have better spent their time writing a plugin for OpenOffice which gives a highly responsive and good adaptive menu system at the click of a button.

Re:Equation Editor/Matlab (2, Informative)

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Whatsisname | more than 6 years ago

Try using openoffice's math editor, it blows away Equation Editor. Equation editor sucks, requires too much clicking. OpenOffice's can be done entirely with the keyboard, so it is much faster. Mathematica's entering system is pretty good too. Accomplished Tex writers can churn out equations as fast as they can think them.

With all the other systems, there is a learning curve, but you are trading a little bit of work now to learn them versus a lot of wasted work over the course of being lazy and using equation editor. Time to step up to the plate.

How do you get the journals to accept Open Office? (2, Interesting)

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Latent Heat | more than 6 years ago

It seems like for a lot of the journals out there, it is a Word/Mathtype vs LaTeX world out there. Anyone seen any acceptance of Open Office/Math Editor?

Re:Equation Editor/Matlab (1)

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r6144 | more than 6 years ago

To be fair Mathtype has plenty of keyboard shortcuts as well. However, LaTeX's macros are just so much more convenient when there are a lot of font changes and notations I have not decided on. Besides, the looks of papers written with Word/Mathtype just doesn't look quite "right" to me, even though I guess I have a pretty good grasp of Word's advanced features. Maybe this has something to do with Word's inability to insert line breaks inside inline equations and the strange line spacing. Finally, Word seems to get unstable when I have more than a hundred or so equations in a single document, which happens pretty often.

Re:Equation Editor/Matlab (1)

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badpazzword | more than 6 years ago

Another problem with MathType is the way it handles equation vertical position. I mean, it handles it correctly, until you for some reason change the style of the paragraph or use the format copier (the "brush" icon) and pop, there floats the equation. You then have to manually doubleclick each equation affected, then Shift-End, Ctrl-X, Alt-F4, Backspace and Ctrl-V -- that's probably as fast as it can get.

But to give credit where it's due, Ctrl-K,LeftArrow is quicker than typing /leftarrow and Ctrl-G,e is faster than /epsilon. Now that the new version of MT can import/export TeX formulas, that makes an interesting solution.

Re:Equation Editor/Matlab (5, Informative)

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be-fan | more than 6 years ago

It's called TeX, learn it once, and reap the benefits for the rest of your life. Instead of dicking around with Equation Editor's error-prone, piece of shit GUI, you can typeset good looking mathematics very quickly and easily. Plus, it's trivial to integrate with other tools. For example, when I work on a simulation in Matlab, I have the program generate TeX code and EPS images for the results and dump them into a file. Then I use \input{} to refer to those results from the main body of my paper. This way if I rerun the simulation for whatever reason, the paper automatically picks up the updated results. Also, TeX's code display facilities allow me to make nice code listings that are again kept up to date with the actual Matlab code of the simulation. Also, on top of all that, TeX outputs professional-looking PDFs, not the raggedy-text shit that Word excretes.

Before you complain about TeX being complicated: even my younger brother, whose still in high-school, figured out (with no help from me!) what a piece of shit Equation Editor is, and switched to TeX. Equation Editor, like Word itself, is barely sufficient for writing high-school lab reports, much less university-level science and engineering work!

Re:Equation Editor/Matlab (2, Informative)

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Ig0r | more than 6 years ago

LyX is a nice frontend program that simplifies LaTeX input

Re:Equation Editor/Matlab (1)

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stuff and such | more than 6 years ago

I tried to teach myself TeX my freshman year of college, hell of a learning curve. Then I found LyX, if you're just learning TeX I'd recommend starting with LyX and exporting to .tex to see what all you can do with something TeX based and then moving onto writing just .tex

Re:Equation Editor/Matlab (1)

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narcc | more than 6 years ago

Agreed, LyX will change the way you think about word processing. I honestly don't know how I managed without it.

Re:Equation Editor/Matlab (1)

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TeknoHog | more than 6 years ago

if you're just learning TeX I'd recommend starting with LyX and exporting to .tex to see what all you can do with something TeX based and then moving onto writing just .tex

I did this too. In fact it reflects my general experiences with Linux distros and opensource sofware -- you can start with something easy and move on to deeper levels. The system encourages you to figure things out. I'm not saying it doesn't happen with closed software, but for some reason I don't see it in the commercial Windows world at all.

Re:Equation Editor/Matlab (0)

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Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago

You can also use something like lyx http://www.lyx.org/ (a WYSIWYM document editor) to generate latex documents pretty easily

Re:Equation Editor/Matlab (5, Funny)

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megaditto | more than 6 years ago

The idea of learning a several thousand large charracter set with all the associated keyboard shortcuts holds no interest for me
Pretty soon China will become the only Superpower, and then you are screwed.

Re:Equation Editor/Matlab (1)

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muyuubyou | more than 6 years ago

They don't memorize any shortcuts, they just write down the pronunciation (either in Pinyin/romanization in the RPC or in Bopomofo in Taiwan) and then choose from the possible homophones, usually helped with a predictive system. It's similar in Japan as well.

Re:Equation Editor/Matlab (1)

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fermion | more than 6 years ago

Not to mention Latex. It takes me like ten times as much time to edit equation in MS Word or OO.org. Of course mathematica exports to AMS-LaTeX.

Re:Equation Editor/Matlab (1)

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thegrassyknowl | more than 6 years ago

I taught myself LaTeX in the first year of my Ph.D. Best thing I ever did. OO.org equations can be entered into the editor using a similar type of notation to TeX. I felt quite at home using OO.org after I understood the basics of LaTeX.

There really comes a point where the right tool for the job. A P.O.S word processor is great for hacking out a letter to aunt millie asking her about the weather in Kazakhstan. It certainly saves the hacking out the text into an editor and a 'make' phase of running the right LaTeX commands to get a printable version.

LaTeX is amazingly simple for enormously complex documents. You just define your format requirements at the top of the TeX sources and then hammer in text; assigning tags to hint at the layout engine what you need it to do for you. If you need to change the entire document format/layout you edit the configuration in one place and the whole document changes.

Sure, it's a learning curve and you have to remember to run the LaTeX interpeter to actually get a document but the effort saved in other places more than makes up for the hassle.

A *legal* equivalent would be much appreciated (0, Offtopic)

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timothy | more than 6 years ago

By that I don't mean that the Stix fonts are illegal -- far from it!

What I mean is that the legal profession could use a similarly open-licensed set of fonts for all aspects of the legal process, so that (among other things) it would be one notch* easier to have completely open source case-management / report-creation software at all layers of the legal system. (I'm thinking of American courts, law offices, etc, right now, but not reason why this should apply only within the U.S.)

Something as trivial (and as tangential to content) and which particular font is chosen is one thing that I'd love to see gone. You might be amazed at how difficult it is to computerize even some very busy court systems / law offices (partly because they're busy). I'm doing a clinical at a defender's office with quite a brisk business, and the computer situation is straight out of a Kafka -- lots of PCs are 8 or more years old, there's no reliable Internet service over which to do research (besides which, the computers are so virus-ful that this wouldn't happen anyhow, because browsers don't work on them anyhow. Or, should I say, "browser." Guess which one?) Oh, and installing any superior software is "against policy." Also, offices aroudn the state (New Jersey) are being flopped over to Word, despite everyone preferring an ages-old version of WordPerfect, "for consistency." Goodbye to years of macros -- many documents must be literally retyped.

So most of the above rant has nothing to do with fonts, I realize -- but it does have to do with supporting anything which would ease the replacement of proprietary junkware with something more open on as many fronts as possible.

timothy

* For whatever value of "notch" you think makes sense, that is.

Really all that new? (3, Interesting)

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gardyloo | more than 6 years ago

I suppose it has something to do with the "openness" of the fonts, or something like that, but haven't complete (or nearly so) scientific font sets been around for a long time? Other posters have mentioned the TeX collections, and there's also Mathematica's fonts: http://support.wolfram.com/mathematica/systems/windows/general/latestfonts.html.
Basically: what's new about the Stix font set?

Re:Really all that new? (3, Informative)

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juhtolv | more than 6 years ago

Have you ever tried to read those default fonts of TeX (Computer Modern) from the screen? Trust me: It is just raping your eyes. But of course, they want to make those STIX Fonts fonts free (as in free speech). Those fonts of Mathematica are not free in that sense.

Re:Really all that new? (1)

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John Hasler | more than 6 years ago

> But of course, they want to make those STIX Fonts fonts free (as in free speech).

Re:Really all that new? (4, Informative)

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juhtolv | more than 6 years ago

Yes, I know, They _want_ to make them free, but there are still some problems in the license:

Re:Really all that new? (1, Informative)

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Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago

Have you ever tried to read those default fonts of TeX (Computer Modern) from the screen?

Kind of - I use the latin-modern family, a Type1/OpenType derivative of Computer Modern. Looks pretty good, actually.

Re:Really all that new? (1)

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r6144 | more than 6 years ago

CM fonts look pretty good in xpdf IMHO, although they appear a little too light when antialiased at my current gamma settings.

Guess I'm the only one. (1)

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Kadin2048 | more than 6 years ago

I really don't understand what all the hate is about for Computer Modern. I think it's a fine font.

Of course, it doesn't look nice on the screen when viewed at 100%. But that's what you get for viewing something at 72 (or 96 or whatever Windows uses) dpi, that's designed to be viewed on paper at 300dpi.

If you blow Computer Modern up to 150% or so, which in my experience tends to be what happens if you fit the width of a document to a good-sized monitor, I think it looks pretty good. But at 10 or 12pt at 100% magnification on a low-resolution device like a computer monitor, you lose all the fine detail that you need.

I guess I can see how there's a need for an alternative for people who are doing all-digital workflows, but if you're going to print the paper out at the end, there's nothing wrong with Computer Modern. It certainly beats the pants off of Times New Roman, IMHO, if you have a good 300+ dpi laser to use as an output device.

math typography (2, Insightful)

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Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago

I'm an amateur typographer and a typophile. I certainly see the need and use for this fontset. However, based on the nature of the comments that I've seen so far, I'm going to sit this discussion out. (Hint: several of you guys are making yourselves look like idiots.)

The one question I have about these fonts is this: Are they designed to sit well in various types of body copy? That is, do the weight and color of the STIX Fonts blend in well with the various serifs and san serifs typefaces used in different scientific publications?

Re:math typography (3, Informative)

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juhtolv | more than 6 years ago

STIX Fonts have both text fonts and math fonts. Therefore you do not need to care, how they look like with other serif fonts used for body, because STIX Fonts can handle that body text, too. On the other hand, STIX Fonts are made to look like Times. Therefore, any sans serif and monospace font that looks good with Times should look good with STIX Fonts.

Re:math typography (0)

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Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago

Thanks for the response. I downloaded them and started looking through them in InDesign. Sure enough, the General set looks like (yet another) Times Roman. Here's hoping the kerning table is well done. Thankfully it shouldn't be difficult to find a decent replacement that matches the weight/tone of the one included here if it isn't. All told there are well over 2000 glyphs here, with plenty of room to grow. Things are looking good. I know quite a few layout people who've been waiting a long time for this project to bear some fruit. Congrats!

These aren't the fonts I was looking for! (0)

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sarge apone | more than 6 years ago

I was hoping there was a typo in the article and this was about Styx fonts! How long do I have to wait until I can make the ultimate fansite if I'm stuck using Garamond and Verdana?

Man, this is just like the time someone said Styx was playing at a local bar, except they said Stix, which is a lame cover band!

Dude, come sail away, 'cause I'm outta here.

conditions for use (1)

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drfireman | more than 6 years ago

The user license is a little hard to interpret for those of us who don't speak legalese. Can someone help with the following bit:

2. The following copyright and trademark notice and these Terms and Conditions shall be included in all copies of one or more of the Font typefaces and any derivative work created as permitted under this License: ...
Does this apply to simply using the fonts in a document?

Re:conditions for use (2, Informative)

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coyote4til7 | more than 6 years ago

Derivative is actually used in the dictionary sense. The document is developed (or derived) from previous (presumably scientific) work. It is expressed with the font. In this case a derivative work would be a font based on this one.

mathml (5, Informative)

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bcrowell | more than 6 years ago

There's nothing new about being able to produce good-looking math output using free software and free fonts; people have been doing that for decades using tex/latex, and the relevant fonts are free enough that they can be distributed with linux distributions.

What's really new and important about STIX is that it will work better with technologies other than latex, especially web browsers. Mathml has been kicking around since 1999, but browser supported has always sucked to high heaven. One of the things holding browsers back from implementing mathml well has been the issue of fonts. Mathml is xml, so it naturally should use unicode. Latex dates back to long before the creation of unicode, so all its fonts are in obscure non-unicode encodings. The approach so far has been to cobble together something that works by building a Frankenstein's monster made out of various fonts that weren't designed to look good together, and that come from various sources. Even though Firefox now has mathml enabled by default, and I have the recommended witches' brew of fonts installed on my linux box, firefox still nags me about its fonts every time it needs to render mathml. The only way this is going to get better is with the STIX fonts.

For an example of how screwed up things have been, take a look at the archives of the Wikiproject Mathematics talk page on Wikipedia. WP's software uses software that renders LaTeX math into bitmaps, and that software has only very limited mathml output functionality, which is not actually being used. There was a project by a math grad student at harvard to make something better, called blahtex, which would have allowed mathml to be output as well. A user who was interested in mathematical topics, and who had Firefox, could set a preference on his WP account so that math would always be displayed to him in mathml, which would look much better (both on the screen and on paper) than the crappy screen-resolution bitmaps. Well, he wrote the thing, got it working great, tested it extensively on a huge number of equations harvested from actual WP pages, built support for it among WP editors. And when all was said and done, the Mediawiki developers wouldn't take his code. Basically the reasoning seems to have been that browser support for mathml sucked, so there was no point in disturbing mediawiki's codebase for a feature nobody cared about.

Ouch.

It's been a real chicken-and-egg thing. Since mathml support in IE requires a plugin, nobody's bothered to put much effort into making mathml content. MS's motivation for building mathml support into IE has been low, because nobody was using mathml, and the fonts weren't available. Although firefox has mathml support, it's extremely buggy, and the motivation to fix the bugs has been low, because nobody was using mathml, and the fonts weren't available. The fact that STIX is finally coming out may finally generate some excitement among developers about making mathml into a going concern on the web.

Anothing thing holding everyone back is that people are still expecting to be able to write html as if it was 1995, with no quotes around attributes, unbalanced tags, etc. That isn't going to work for xml-based technologies like mathml, and in fact firefox won't render mathml if it occurs on a page that's not valid xhtml. That seems to have been one of the big factors holding back adoption of mathml by mediawiki, for example, because the html code generated by mediawiki isn't valid xml.

I'm really hoping that sometime soon square roots won't look messed up on the screen in firefox's rendering of mathml, and a printed mathml web page won't look so horrible.

Re:mathml (1)

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EvanED | more than 6 years ago

Wow, very informative post, thank you. It's too bad that you're so far down the page.

Re:mathml (0)

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Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago

x={-b \pm \sqrt{b^2 - 4ac}} \over 2a
The same in MathML:

<math xmlns="http://www.w3.org/1998/Math/MathML">
<mi>x</mi>
<mo>=</mo>
<mfrac>
<mrow>
<mrow>
<mo>-</mo>
<mi>b</mi>
</mrow>
<mo>&PlusMinus;</mo>
<msqrt>
<msup>
<mi>b</mi>
<mn>2</mn>
</msup>
<mo>-</mo>
<mrow>
<mn>4</mn>
<mo>&InvisibleTimes;</mo>
<mi>a</mi>
<mo>&InvisibleTimes;</mo>
<mi>c</mi>
</mrow>
</msqrt>
</mrow>
<mrow>
<mn>2</mn>
<mo>&InvisibleTimes;</mo>
<mi>a</mi>
</mrow>
</mfrac>
[/itex]

Re:mathml (1)

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TeknoHog | more than 6 years ago

What's your point? That MathML is not a preferred human-editable form of writing equations? I don't see anything wrong with that.

Now excuse me while I go back to writing Python instead of pure machine language.

Re:mathml (1)

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ceroklis | more than 6 years ago

Firefox's mathml support recently became much better (if unpolished) than you describe.
1. Install the necessary fonts (http://www.mozilla.org/projects/mathml/fonts/)
2. Apply symbol font fix (http://silas.psfc.mit.edu/tth/symfontconfig.html

The torture test (http://www.mozilla.org/projects/mathml/demo/texvsmml.xhtml) should now be passed perfectly, with no prompt about missing fonts.

Re:mathml (0)

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Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago

And when all was said and done, the Mediawiki developers wouldn't take his code. Basically the reasoning seems to have been that browser support for mathml sucked, so there was no point in disturbing mediawiki's codebase for a feature nobody cared about.

Computer modern. (1)

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serviscope_minor | more than 6 years ago

They will have a big job replacing the computer modern fonts, especially if they don't make convenient LaTeX packeges to load the fonts.

We can do better than Computer Modern (2, Insightful)

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Anonymous Brave Guy | more than 6 years ago

If anything can do it, it'll be an initiative something like the STIX work.

In any case, Computer Modern is far from everyone's taste. Knuth did a great job designing a highly legible font that could both typeset mathematics elegantly and survive the scanning, photocopying and other abuse scientific papers tend to suffer. However, notwithstanding Knuth's personal preferences, aesthetically the Computer Modern set leaves a lot to be desired. Many people prefer a different style on paper, and on screen the lightness of the CM set is pretty horrible, as anyone who's tried to read a long PDF of a paper set using TeX can testify.

It's a shame that in a world where OpenType and Unicode are now commonplace, and where many professional fonts now come with glyphs for numerous different alphabets and numerous carefully tuned typographical features, it isn't yet common to supply matching glyphs for say the top 100 scientific symbols. I guess the market is just too specialised, and the current dominance of the TeX family means there's little commercial incentive for others to produce high quality scientific fonts. In that respect, having a high-quality, science-friendly font available for use with things like web pages surely must be a good thing. (Monospace fonts useful for typesetting computer programs currently suffer a similar lack of support, probably for the same reason.)

Small font sizes (3, Insightful)

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ortholattice | more than 6 years ago

I took a quick look at the Stix fonts - only a few samples, so maybe I'm overlooking something - but they seem to have the same problem that plagues almost all recently designed fonts, free and otherwise: they don't render clean bitmaps at small sizes, when ClearType or other font smoothing is turned off. To me, smoothing often just doesn't work all that well for small point sizes. Sometimes it makes very small fonts nearly illegible that are easily readable in bitmap form (e.g. Mono Andale at 8pt where it is essentially impossible to distinguish a period and a comma with smoothing turned on).

Compare these to the fonts of yore, such as Times or Arial or essentially any font that existed in the early Mac and Windows days. The font designers took great care to ensure that bit maps were customized for best appearance at small point sizes, given the inherent limitation of the black-and-white screens and resolution available then.

Now it seems it is universally assumed that everyone will have smoothing turned on. Modern fonts may look professional and polished at larger point sizes, but the unsmoothed bitmap versions of many of them at small sizes tend to look rough and amateurish, with ugly artifacts and inconsistent line widths and sometimes barely legible. Even the smoothed ones aren't necessarily great at small sizes - the smoothing can make them blurry with poor contrast, unlike the crisp black and white of well-designed bitmaps.

Perhaps I am alone, but I am more efficient working with small font sizes for things like programming, so I can have the maximum amount of information simultaneously available on the screen. So I almost always have smoothing turned off and use old-fashioned (and typically mono) fonts that have clean, carefully crafted bitmaps suited for that purpose. But when I switch to web browsing, if the site sports a trendy font and I have smoothing turned off, it can be an eyesore.

Re:Small font sizes (0)

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Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago

Not sure about ClearType on Windows, but in OS X there's an option in the Appearance control panel to disable font smoothing below a certain size. Set it for 8, 9, or 10 (your call) and you'll be fine.

Re:Small font sizes (1)

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Anonymous Brave Guy | more than 6 years ago

Windows is a bit funny when it comes to font smoothing. The standard option has a font size floor, below which nothing is smoothed. IMHO, this is actually rather large. ClearType seems to try to smooth everything regardless, which leads to the bizarre situation that I actually prefer to have ClearType on even on a CRT, because text at moderate sizes looks much better antialiased even if the subpixel effects sometimes cause artifacts because they were designed for TFT screens.

Re:Small font sizes (0)

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Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago

Since we're on the topic of quality issues with the fonts, I'll continue the discussion.

I have been following these fonts since they were initially announced, and have been looking forward to them for some time. As soon as they were released, I downloaded them.

Now, I realize this is a beta release, but:

I have to say I'm pretty disappointed. Although I think that the regular Latin font is fairly nice, actually, the rest of the font set looks extremely nonprofessional. Proportions are off, look strange, and generally seem distorted. Try boldfacing all capital letters (as you might in a section heading, for example), and see the resulting appearance.

Another pet peeve of mine: why is the spacing so huge? Can someone with better knowledge of how these things work explain? Is it to make room for some of the characters? I really don't know why certain fonts (not just the STIX fonts, but others) have such huge spacing. Managing spacing seems to be correlated with font quality in my mind, and this is no different.

Frankly, I'm a little surprised that they went with the font designer they did, and not someone--just about anyone--with more of a distinguished record of font production (e.g., SIL, Linotype, Bitstream, Adobe).

The bottom line is that I feel like these fonts needed to be pretty first rate to compete against what's already available, and they're pretty crappy. About _the only_ thing going for them is the range of characters available.

Hopefully the font will improve significantly before the final release.

Re:Small font sizes (1)

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Anonymous Brave Guy | more than 6 years ago

Another pet peeve of mine: why is the spacing so huge? Can someone with better knowledge of how these things work explain? Is it to make room for some of the characters?

I haven't managed to download the beta yet. Can you clarify what you think is funny about the spacing?

In terms of inter-character spacing, an OpenType font would normally feature kerning so the fit was natural at the design size when setting sentence-style material. If you're setting in all-caps (not generally a good idea, but sometimes useful for effect) then in many fonts it looks better if you would increase the tracking slightly. Setting intricate mathematical expressions is very difficult to do well just through font features, though: even TeX provides numerous small spacing adjustment commands for the many occasions when things don't quite come out right using the mechanical defaults.

In terms of inter-line spacing, most OpenType fonts include enough leading that if you set some text in a simple application that just spaces the lines at the font size, the text will look OK and you won't get clashes between ascenders and descenders or similar silliness. More sophisticated applications should be able to get the various spacing metrics from the font file and take these into account when setting the leading explicitly, e.g., 12pt text with an additional 3pt of leading.

For a mathematical context, slightly wider line-spacing is often used compared to something like a novel where you're just setting paragraphs of plain text. This allows space for notations like super- and subscripts and symbols such as sums and integrals to be set in-line without clashing with the lines above or below. Perhaps if you're worried about the line-spacing in the STIX fonts, the default is wider than you're used to for this reason? One would expect any decent word processor or typesetting package to take this into account if you're specifying more precise typographical requirements, though, so if you're setting in say 11/15pt it shouldn't look much different whether you're using an OpenType font with wider default line-spacing or not.

How do I use Open Type Format files (1)

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BbMaj7 | more than 6 years ago

Can anyone point at a good reference.

I'm familiar with Type1, Postscript, bitmap, TrueType; but not OTF.

Re:How do I use Open Type Format files (1)

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msuarezalvarez | more than 6 years ago

At the risk of being obvious... try google.

Try "OTF font", as "OTF" catches too many other things.

Crashes FontBook (1)

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Coppit | more than 6 years ago

Some of the fonts apparently crash FontBook when previewed. It's too bad, since I was hoping for a good symbol font.

Re:Crashes FontBook (1)

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644bd346996 | more than 6 years ago

Works for me on Leopard. I guess that means it's a bug that won't get fixed in Tiger.

very nice fonts (1)

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rice_burners_suck | more than 6 years ago

I downloaded the STIX zipball and glanced through some of the character sets included therein. The fonts are very attractive and I think that within a short time of delivery, many technical publications will adopt them. It is only a shame that this project has suffered so many long delays. It's almost like waiting for Sarge to get released.

Finally! (1)

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blank axolotl | more than 6 years ago

The project history is sort of amusing.. Originally scheduled for release in Summer 2005, the release date was delayed to Sept 2005, the Dec, then March 2006, then June. In July 2006 it was announced the fonts would be ready "in two weeks". Every two weeks since then, they've made announcements that it would be ready in two weeks more. (literally.. see their news page). Anyway, they must be happy it's almost done!

Duke Nukem Forever of scientific software (0)

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Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago

Now we can get our hopes up for DNF - the Stix fonts have arrived!

Oh, and some place named Hell called wanting to place an order for some heating units...

Web site broken (1)

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skeftomai | more than 6 years ago

I love how none of the links on their web site's menu work.

Way to go (1)

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ingmar | more than 6 years ago

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