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23Jan/11Off

Thank you Microsoft, here’s why!

I am a massive fan of open source software and enjoy the freedom of being able to download source code via SVN (e.g., LuaTeX and GhostScript). I subscribe to numerous mailing lists to keep up-to-date with various open source distributions close to my heart and interests (FreeType, GhostScript, LuaTeX, Lua, ...). In short, I love, enjoy and applaud open source software. So, why am I saying "Thank you Microsoft, here's why!" About 6 months ago I purchased, at some expense (about £500, that hurt!), a copy of Fontlab Studio to support my research into OpenType fonts with LuaTeX. Of course, I have also installed Fontforge and, in addition, Microsoft VOLT (Visual OpenType Layout Tool ). Of course, FontForge is open source whereas VOLT is free to use: you only get the executable, not the source code. Another useful addition to the armoury is the Adobe Font Development Kit for OpenType. With all these tools and resources at your disposal you have everything to occupy many lifetimes of research.

A few years ago, during the course of my research, I came across the blog by Murray Sargent, professor and laser physicist who works for Microsoft. In short, Professor Sargent is responsible for the excellent mathematical typesetting in Microsoft Word 2007, and later. The Cambria-Math OpenType mathematical font was produced by Tiro Typeworks and currently defines the standard for OpenType mathematical typography; in addition, Microsoft proposed and pioneered the MATH table for OpenType fonts. Cambria-Math works wonderfully well with LuaTeX. Personally, I am grateful to Microsoft for contributing to mathematical typesetting, releasing VOLT and, on a personal basis, sending me a copy of their excellent book "Mathematical Typesetting". I just want to leave you with the thought that no matter how big a corporation might be, within it are departments and groups run and managed by real people who are dedicated to their art and responsive to requests from respectful, like-minded, individuals. The corporate machine is one thing, small dedicated teams of friendly, helpful experts are another. That is why I say "Thank you Microsoft, here's why!".

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  1. May I ask whether that book, Mathematical Typesetting, is free? or where can I get it? I can’t find it online, not even at Amazon. I am considering rewriting my math software using the OpenType math tables. Thanks.

  2. Hi Pete

    To get copy of that book I simply wrote to Microsoft to ask for a copy and they very kindly sent me a copy for free! I wrote to the Microsoft Typography team (http://www.microsoft.com/typography/AboutMST.mspx).

    If you want the Tech Specs for OpenType MATH tables you should write to Murray Sargent via http://blogs.msdn.com/b/murrays/contact.aspx.

    Hope that helps

    Cheers
    Graham


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