Free OpenType font suitable for Hong Kong
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README.md

CYanHeiHK (昭源甄黑體)

Click here for Chinese version 中文版請按此

Table of Contents

About

What is CYanHeiHK?

CYanHeiHK is an OpenType font based on Source Han Sans (SHS) from Adobe and Google (it is called Noto Sans CJK when distributed by Google). A number of glyphs have been modified so that it is more suitable for use in Hong Kong.

Why is such a font needed?

  • Due to Han Unification, different character forms may exist for the same codepoint in different region, as explained in the official README of Source Han Sans.
  • As of version 1.004, Source Han Sans provides four language - Simplified Chinese, Traditional Chinese, Japanese and Korean.
  • Traditional Chinese version follows the glyph standard specified by Taiwan's Ministry of Education.
  • Its form may not be suitable for Hong Kong.

About the standards

  • In Hong Kong, two standards exist regarding the appearance and form of the characters.
  • The first one, List of Graphemes of Commonly-used Chinese Characters 常用字字形表 published by the Hong Kong Education Bureau, lists the standardized hand-writing forms of the commonly used characters.
  • The second one, Reference Guide on Hong Kong Character Glyphs 香港電腦漢字字形參考指引 published by the Office of the Government Chief Information Officer (OGCIO), takes reference from the first one and expands the coverage to computer characters (Song and Kai style) covered in Big5 and HKSCS.
  • That said, minor discrepancies exist between the two standards as they are developed and updated by different parties asynchronously.
  • This product uses List of Graphemes of Commonly-used Chinese Characters 常用字字形表 as the primary reference.

So CYanHeiHK is 100% compliant to HK's glyph standard?

  • No.
  • The fact is, commercial fonts in most of the printed materials in Hong Kong do not 100% comply with HK's glyph standard.
  • This is because developing a font product fulfilling the standard is voluntary, but not enforced.
  • Font vendors are free to decide whether to adopt the standard forms in their typeface products.
  • For some characters, people may actually be more familiar to the non-standard glyphs that are widely adopted in printed materials. They are mostly shapes used in early desktop publishings inherited from movable types.
  • A font that complies to Hong Kong's glyph standard will be fulfilled by Source Han Sans in the future.

Goal of CYanHeiHK

  • CYanHeiHK can serve as an interim solution before the release of the new Source Han Sans variant that adheres to Hong Kong's upcoming glyph standard.
  • However, CYanHeiHK is NOT a typeface that is 100% compliant to HK standard. Instead, it takes reference from common commercial font products and tries to strike a balance between the “standard” and “conventional/uncodified” forms to make it more appealing to general users.

Differences to the original product

Currently, CYanHeiHK is based on the Traditional Chinese (Taiwan) variant of Source Han Sans (version 1.004).

The following image serves as an introduction to the font in Chinese, which demonstrates some differences to its base:

Font intro

And here is a summary:

  1. Some glyphs are modified to conform to HK standard.
  2. Some glyphs are modified to use the conventional form.
  3. Glyphs having certain components are modified to their traditional forms as I believe they are more suitable for Gothic style. Example of affected components are 艹, 女, 雨, ⺼.
  4. The 辶 component is redesigned.
  5. Sizes of some full-width punctuations (,。、:;!?) are adjusted.
  6. Lastly, appearances of the half-width, proportional digit “1” and letter “g” are changed. The bottom horizontal line of “1” has been removed, and “g” is changed to single-storey form.

Development

This project uses the TW variant of SHS as the working base as it is closest to the HK standard. Characters are reviewed and adjustments will be made where necessary. The language specific version of SHS-TW covers around 44,600 ideographs, and around 17,600 characters (covered by Big5+HKSCS character set) are guaranteed to comply with Taiwan's MoE standard. Characters beyond the Big5+HKSCS range can still be accessed, just that they are not guaranteed to meet Taiwan's glyph standard.

As this is a personal project, it would be impractical for me to go through all characters in the original font and fix every glyph. Even the number of characters in the Big5+HKSCS scope is too large for me. So the scope of work is defined as follow:

  1. Characters covered by Big5 and HKSCS charsets will be the maximum supported range. The list of characters is extracted from the Unihan_OtherMappings.txt file in the Unihan database. From the file, there are 17,642 candidates in total (13,063 in Big5 + 4,579 in HKSCS).
  2. 4,805 characters listed in 常用字字形表 (List of Graphemes of Commonly-used Chinese Characters) will be reviewed and modified. The character list is extracted from EDB's Lexical Lists for Chinese Learning in Hong Kong (香港小學學習字詞表) website. The list is supposed to contain most (if not all) of the frequently used characters in Hong Kong. Unsurprisingly, all characters are covered by the Big5+HKSCS charset.
  3. 5,224 characters listed in IICORE with Hong Kong source identifier (H1A - H1F) are also reviewed and fixed. The source file can be found here. Many overlap with 香港小學學習字詞表, so there are just 456 additional candidates to be processed. Also worth noting is that there are characters in 香港小學學習字詞表 not covered by IICORE, so it cannot be seen as a subset of IICORE.
  4. IICORE characters with Taiwan, Macau and Japan source identifiers are reviewed. A fix will be applied when remapping is possible.
  5. Other characters may also be reviewed, and a fix may or may not be applied.

“Fixing” a glyph can be achieved either by amending the shapes of the glyphs with some tools, or by changing the mapping information of the codepoint. The latter is possible because SHS is a multi-locale typeface, so it is possible that a glyph in other langauge is exactly what we need for CYanHeiHK. In this case, we just need to map the codepoint to the desired glyph ID.

In this project, remapping is preferred over amendment. This means that the font will try to reuse existing glyphs when possible, even when certain component is not exactly the same as that is used in the TW version. For instance, the followings components are different between variants, but may be ignored by this project:

Region level variants

The above subtle discrepancies are considered not significant enough for a whole new glyph. This is especially true for non-frequently used characters, when the option is either to leave them as-is or remap them to those closer to the desired glyphs.

The font still includes all characters covered by the original Source Han Sans TC, just that the unreviewed characters are not guaranteed to meet the font's glyph standard. For instance, although you can access 縎 (Big5: EAD3) in this font, its 骨 component does not adhere to Hong Kong's glyph standard. As (a) there is no alternate glyph matching our need so a remap is not possible, and (b) the character is rarely used, it is left unmodified. The situation shall improve in the future with the release of SHS-TCHK so that this project can be updated to use it as the working base.

Available weights

Light, Regular and Bold version of the font are provided.

(For a codepoint, when a glyph needs to be modified, the amendment has to be done independently on each weight. There is simply not enough manpower to support all weights.)

About this repository

This repository does not only include the font files, but also the script and data files that I use to help create such product. Feel free to build it yourself, or modify it to suit your need.

Using the command line tools

See COMMANDS.md for details.

Download

Visit the releases page to download the fonts. Currently two desktop builds and one web font build are available for download.

Desktop fonts

Two variants of the font package are available for desktop use. Note that the font names are exactly the same, so you cannot install both.

  • CYanHeiHK_{version}.7z is the “normal version” of the OpenType (.OTF) font files. You're probably looking for this.
  • CYanHeiHK_{version}_adjusted_fontbbox.7z is the “adjusted Font BBox version”, provided to work around some edge cases caused by the features inherited from Source Han Sans. Click here for more information. Only use it when you understand what it does.

The zip file contains the installable fonts, the license file, and a changes.html file which you can use to examine the changed glyphs after installing the fonts. Source Han Sans TW also needs to be installed for the reference glyph to display correctly.

Subsetted fonts

CYanHeiHK_{version}_subset.7z is a special build that contains a subsetted version of CYanHeiHK (~8,010 codepoints), with most OpenType features removed. The package contains fonts in WOFF and WOFF2 formats which can be used for the web. Most modern browsers should support either one or both. Also, hinted and unhinted version are provided for each format and each weight. In addition, subsetted .ttf files are also available which can be used for e.g. embedding in mobile apps.

Detail of subset coverage is as below:

For Chinese glyphs,

  • characters listed in IICORE with Hong Kong, Macau, Taiwan, or Japan source identifier are included by default but will be excluded if rarely used. For Japan source, only those overlapping the Big5 or HKSCS code range are included by default. I try to be conservative here, around 370 characters are removed in the selection process.
  • some additional characters (mostly HKSCS characters like 㗅, 喆) are manually selected to include in the web font.

For non-Chinese character glyphs,

  • ASCII, punctuation marks, full-width characters, Hiragana and Katakana symbols are included, except for the "no-latin" variant.

Important notes

  • The original language specific OTFs contain glyphs of the non-default language, so that users can access them using the same font resource through the ‘locl’ GSUB feature in OpenType. This feature still exists in CYanHeiHK, but should not be relied on because the HK glyphs are developed by selecting the region specific glyphs closest to the desired form and modify them when necessary. I plan to remove this ‘locl’ feature in the future.

Disclaimer

The CYanHeiHK font and its tools are free for use. The author shall not be responsible or liable for any loss or damage of any kind caused by using this product. For license information of the font, see LICENSE.txt.