Are virtual fonts obsolete?

Boris Veytsman
George Mason University, Fairfax, VA
Play (27min) Download: MP4 | MP3

Virtual fonts (\vf) were created to address a shortcoming of \TeX{} fonts: each slot address occupied exactly one byte, so there were no more than 256 different characters per font.Later, when
PostScript fonts got popular, \vf{} became the way of choice for
integration of these fonts with \TeX{}~[2,3].Today new font formats (\OTF, \TTF, etc.)\ can be directly read by the modern \TeX{} engines, and, for example, \XeTeX{} can directly work with system fonts.There is a temptation to declare \vf{} obsolete.

In this talk we show that there is much more functionality in \vf{} than just making PostScript fonts available for \TeX.There are various tricks developed over the years, that use \vf{} technology to achieve new striking effects.Some of these tricks are described in Alan Hoenig’s great book [1], and some are used by the author [4].

The aim of this presentation is to convince the users to learn how to employ \vf, and to convince the programmers of the new engines to provide the interface for font manipulation comparable to \vf.