smith is a Python-based framework for building, testing and maintaining WSI (Writing Systems Implementation) components such as fonts and keyboards. It is based on waf. Smith orchestrates and integrates various tools and utilities to make a standards-based open font design and production workflow easier to manage.
Building a font involves numerous steps and various programs, which, if done by hand, would be prohibitively slow. Even working out what those steps are can take a lot of work. Smith uses a dedicated file at the root of the project (the file is python-based) to allow the user to describe how to build the font. By chaining the different build steps intelligently, smith reduces build times to seconds rather than minutes or hours, and makes build, test, fix, repeat cycles very manageable. By making these processes repeatable, including for a number of fonts at the same time, your project can be shared with others simply, or - better yet - it can be included in a CI (Continuous Integration) system. This allows for fonts (and their various source formats) to truly be libre/open source software and developed with open and collaborative methodologies.
Smith is Copyright (c) 2011-2018 SIL International (www.sil.org) and is released under the BSD license.
The manual (including a step-by-step tutorial) is in docs/smith. (to regenerate: cd docs/smith/ && ./build-docs.sh)
pip install . will install just the smith packages and commands,
but will not install all the other font tooling which smith will search for
smith configure is run. For complete font build envrionments there are
two ready made options below, depending on interactive or CI use cases:
Vagrant support VM images
The current VM (Virtual Machine) installation files (using vagrant) are in
vm-install. These files make it easier to use smith (and its
various components) on macOS,
Windows or Ubuntu. Simply copy the files to the root of your project and
The primary purpose of the Docker image is to provide a base for CI systems to
have a complete smith build environment. However you can also use it locally as
is, simply by running:
docker run --rm -it -v $WORKSPACE:/build smith:latest
This will fetch and use the latest smith docker image from docker hub and run
it with the absoulte path (or docker volume)
$WORKSPACE mapped to
inside, and an interactive bash session (the
-it options). The
the container ephemeral.
If you wish to build your own image you will need to run
docker build . in
the top-level source dir and this will download and build the latest
dependencies for the smith font build enviroment and install the smith python
packages from the source dir.
The Dockerfile can take the following build args:
ubuntuImage: (default: "ubuntu:20.04")
The base image to build on. This does not need to be an official Ubuntu
image, but can be an image built on Ubuntu. e.g. This is how the TeamCity
build agent image is generated.
type: (default: "build-agent")
This can be either
chosen it will install a
builder user who has pasword-less sudo, and the
Thus to build the interactive image run:
$> docker build --build-arg=type=build-agent .
Our TeamCity build agent is built like so:
$> docker --build-arg=ubuntuImage="jetbrains/teamcity-agent" .
We recommend using BuildKit, as it halves the build time with this Dockerfile