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Creating a clock with Arabic digits using the Cairo graphics library

Cairo graphics

Cairo is an excellent graphics library, albeit a little tricky to build on Windows. After successfully compiling it as a static library (.lib) I wanted to explore using it to create PDFs containing Arabic. Cairo is a graphics engine, not a text layout engine, so with complex scripts like Arabic you need to take care of the shaping and text placement yourself. Naturally, this is pretty fiddly but it's certainly quite possible. So, here are a couple of clocks as examples – note that the positioning of the numbers is not quite perfect so I have a little tweaking to do on that. Additionally, the resulting PDF imports nicely into the latest XeTeX engine. For the digits I used the font ScheherazadeRegOT, available from SIL.

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