Henrik Theiling wrote:

>"Nicholas Bodley" <nbodley@...> writes:
>>Long ago, Scientific American printed a paragraph in which certain
>>parameters (numbers that define, in this case) for the letters of the text
>>were changed just a wee bit for each consecutive letter. I've forgotten
>>details, but the progressive transformation might have been, say, from
>>serif to sans.
I remember seeing that. I recall Douglas Hofstadter, I think, being
somewhat dismissive of METAFONT (yes, I think it's supposed to be
all-caps); "How can a font be 3/8ths of the way between Baskerville and
Helvetica??" That's a little inaccurate.

I've coded in METAFONT a bit myself. My first Visible Speech font was in
MF, and I did some tinkering with Hebrew cantillations and a few other
things. The key point is that MF is NOT a "draw your font in the window
provided" kind of application. It is a *programming language*, and a
darned powerful--and weird--one at that. The only language I know where
you can with equal meaning say "x=5" and "5=x". In fact, you can say
"x=3y+2" and "9y-8x=4" and MF itself will come up with the actual
values. (Yes, solving simultaneous linear equations is all in a day's
work for MF). I suppose it IS possible to parametrize a whole bunch of
features, but in practice there's only so far you can take that before
your brain starts to sizzle. On the other hand, I've occasionally wished
for some MF-like features in FontForge/Fontographer too: it would be
nice to decree that *all* thick strokes in my font shall be precisely
the same thickness, even if I decide to change it, and similar
declarations. You can enforce proportions and spacing throughout the
font, make that a parameter to twiddle between extremes, etc... Still, I
found it mighty difficult to slap together a semi-decent font in MF; GUI
programs are much easier to work with.

Generating PostScript/TrueType fonts from MF source has probably been
done, and probably should be done well; MF is a sufficiently cool
program that its virtues might as well be exploited by other programs
than TeX. (This may not be easy, as MF has the resolution specified at
compile time--compiling the font, that is--and does some operations on
the grid of pixels and not outlines).