NewDeal Hot Tip 1416

[Hot Tips for...] Fonts

Fun With System Fonts

Here's some neat stuff about system fonts.

Do you find the filenames too hard to read under the icons? You can adjust the size of the font in Preferences, Configure UI. But if that's not enough, just move or delete UNIVERSI.FNT from your FONT directory (renaming it won't do). This is the University font--the bitmap font that is used for the labels under file and folder icons. When this font is gone, NewDeal puts up all the file names in Berkeley (the system font normally used for all the title bars, menus, buttons, etc.) which is bigger and thicker and easier to read.

When I deleted Berkeley from my font directory, I found that the system takes it in stride and looks for another good font to use. You can choose what you want your system font to be, either by modifying the GEOS.INI (in the [system] and [motif] sections) or by keeping only certain fonts in your font folder.

I just renamed my FONT directory to OLDFONT, created a new directory called FONT and copied certain fonts into it. That way, when I'm finished playing, I can re-re-name OLDFONT to FONT and preserve my precious normal fonts. I've got University as my system font, and it looks pretty cool--like a SPARCstation. All buttons, menus and dialog boxes appear in this sturdy, but thin, font. Plus, if you move BISON.FNT (the font used by NewComm) out of your font directory, NewComm defaults to whatever the system font is. Since Bison is mono-width and your system font won't be, your NewComm screen ends up looking like a big ransom note.

There are two fonts involved

  1. default font (specified in the [system] section of the GEOS.INI file)--this is a "last ditch" font, in case something is missing
  2. UI font (specified in the [motif] section)--this is what the User Interface (UI) uses everywhere

The system first tries to use the font requested. If it's not available, then the system uses the default font.

The way the default font is determined is

You can use any font for the UI font. You must use a bitmap for the default font, because it needs to be in memory in case of an error (e.g. Abort/Retry). Here are the font ID numbers for the four bitmap fonts

You can actually use these fonts in your applications, though they behave differently than the normal outline (vector) fonts that you are used to. They are not useful for documents that you plan to print, but they might come in handy for a document that you plan to distribute electronically. To use them, you must edit your GEOS.INI file by hand.

Examine your GEOS.INI file to see if there are keys like these:

fonttool = 160218011204140316001a00100012001800
fontmenu = 160218011204140316001a00100012001800
If you don't see the lines, then run Preferences, Fonts, and drag at least one font into the Toolbar or Menu area. Then exit GEOS and examine your GEOS.INI file again.

The keys determine which fonts appear in the font tool and the Font menu. The keys in the [system] section determine the fonts for all applications. If a similar key exists in the section for an individual application, it will override the system setting for that application.

The numbers are simply a list of the font ID numbers. 1602 is the Army font, for example. 1000 is URW Roman.

To enable the bitmap system fonts in your applications, all you need to do is add the font ID numbers for the bitmap fonts, like this:

fonttool = 02020a0002010600160218011204140316001a00100012001800
fontmenu = 02020a0002010600160218011204140316001a00100012001800
There are limitations when using the bitmap fonts:
  1. No bold or italics.
  2. Berkeley and Bison are limited to 9, 10, 12, 14, and 18 pt. University adds 24 pt. LED is 18 pt. only.
  3. In your applications, zooming the view causes anomalies on the screen.
  4. In a bitmap font, each character at each point size is defined as a specific pattern of pixels. The engines that scale or change the style of a vector font don't work on bitmapped fonts.
  5. When printing, the bitmap fonts will often print at a size much different than they appear on screen. Screen resolution is 72dpi, so a 12 point bitmap font will appear roughly one-sixth of an inch tall on a normal monitor. But on a 300dpi laser printer, the same font will be only .04 of an inch high, for example.

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Last Modified 2 Mar 1999