Typography in Silverlight 5

Silverlight 5 is released and contains the Typography features that already existed in WPF. Designers can use these features to make beautiful typographic designs.

SilverlightTypographyThanks to the qualities of the OpenType font format, several typographic features are now available to every web designer. Combining TrueType and Postscript outlines in one format, smaller file sizes, more typographic control and allowing far more characters in a single font file have resulted in a much more versatile use of fonts. The Typography object is available to you inside a TextBlock or TextBox tag. Attributes of this object lead to various typographic results.

Inside a TextBlock or TextBox, a Run element is used that can only contain unformatted text. Properties of the Typography object are applied through this Run element. To group some of the Run elements together, use a <Span>. Both Run and Span have no inherent rendering.

One concept associated with typography is Kerning . Kerning is embedded in the selected font file and Silverlight has no influence on it other than being able to use it or not. You can set the Typography.Kerning attribute to False. The default setting is True.

Superscript and Subscript are Variants of normal characters in a font, placed on respectively a higher or lower baseline than the rest of the text. Other Variants are Normal, Titling, Inferior, Ordinal and Ruby. Note that a Superscript and a Subscript Variant needs to be present in the font file you use.

Nobody should use a smaller font size of normal Capitals when you really need SmallCaps. Spacing of SmallCaps is different and weight and proportion of the letters are adapted to their size and use. Also, for titling purposes capitals with elegant, slender stems are possible, if they are accounted for in the specified font. Setting the property Typography.CapitalSpacing=”True” is a good idea for titles or text that are in capitals, for the spacing between capitals and lowercase letters differs from the spacing between all capitals.

Ligatures are Alternates for two characters that would collide when spaced normally. In the lowercase combination of f and i for example, the point of character i interferes with the end of the stroke of the f regularly. So in the ligature this issue is solved. The same is true for ff, fl, ffi, ffl and many other character combinations. In OpenType fonts standard ligatures are enabled by default in Silverlight 5. If for some reason standard ligatures should be disabled, use the property Typography.StandardLigatures=”False”. Other reasons for ligatures are esthetic, resulting in discretionary or historic ligatures, using Typography. DiscretionaryLigatures and Typograpy.HistoricalLigatures. Ligatures must be present in the font file for you to make them visible with the Typography object.

Swashes are decorative elements of characters associated with calligraphy. Extended serifs and strokes on existing characters may be part of your OpenFont file. To enable a Swash on a character set Typography.StandardSwashes=”1”. When a standards Swash doesn’t result in an agreeable result setting Typography.ContextualSwashes=”1 for that character is also an option.

OpenType has so many positions for characters available, that Stylistic Alternative characters are at your disposal. To enable an alternative character, set the Typograhy.StylisticAlternates property. Random use of alternatives is possible when you specify Typography.ContextualAlternates=”True”, a great way to help a script font in suggesting true handwriting. A font may also contain AnnotationAlternates. These are Glyphs in circles, squares, parentheses, diamonds or rounded boxes used for annotation of images of illustrations. In code-behind this index can be set with Typography.AnnotationAlternates.

Some characters in a font may be designed to be used together, because they look better next to each other or work together somehow. These characters are combined in a stylistic set and a maximum of 20 of these sets may be set in code-behind.

Numerical features of OpenType include Typography.Fraction=”Slashed” or Typography.Fraction=”Stacked”, old style numerals with Typography.NumeralStyle=”OldStyle” inside a Run tag and Tabular or Proportional alignment with Typography.NumeralAlignment=”Tabular” and even, where available, a slashed zero using Typography.SlashedZero=”True”.

Here’s the XAML I used for the image at the beginning:

<StackPanel Background="White" Margin="0,0,0,0">
<TextBlock FontFamily="Adobe Caslon Pro" FontWeight="Normal" TextAlignment="Center" FontSize="200" Typography.StandardLigatures="True">
<Run FontStyle="Italic" Typography.StylisticAlternates="1">fi</Run>
<Run Foreground="Red" FontStyle="Italic" Typography.StylisticAlternates="1">fl</Run>
<Run FontStyle="Italic" Typography.StylisticAlternates="1">ff</Run>
<TextBlock FontFamily="Adobe Caslon Pro" FontWeight="Normal" Margin="0,-150,0,0" TextAlignment="Center" FontSize="200" Typography.StandardLigatures="True">
<Run FontWeight="Normal" Typography.StylisticAlternates="1">fi</Run>
<Run FontWeight="Normal" Typography.StylisticAlternates="1">fl</Run>
<Run FontWeight="Normal" Typography.StylisticAlternates="1">ff</Run>
<TextBlock FontFamily="Adobe Caslon Pro" FontSize="24" Margin="0,-125,0,0" TextAlignment="Center">
<Run Text="Superscript: M"/><Run Foreground="Red" Text="2" Typography.Variants="Superscript"/>
<Run Text="Subscript: H"/><Run Foreground="Red" Text="2" Typography.Variants="Subscript"/><Run Text="O"/>
<Run FontStyle="Italic" Text="Fraction: 8"/><Run Foreground="Red" FontStyle="Italic" Text="1/2" Typography.Fraction="Slashed"/><LineBreak/>
<Run Text="CAPITALS" Typography.Kerning="True"/>
<Run Text="SmallCaps" Foreground="Red" Typography.Capitals="SmallCaps"/>
<Run Text="AllSmallCaps" Typography.Capitals="AllSmallCaps"/><LineBreak/>

Also check out Silverlight 5 OpenType Support from Pete Brown at 10REM.NET.



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