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Why has no-one ever created a graphical user interface for Metafont ?

One can easily imagine a system that would allow interactive adjustment of the font parameters, with near-real-time display of some sort of preview (a single character, or some chosen group of characters). I would guess that Metafont's production of bitmaps would be fast enough to support this style of interaction on a decent modern computer.

Most people would want a Postscript (outline) font as the final output, not a bitmap one, but this conversion could be done later -- bitmap output is fine for previews while you're fiddling with the parameter values.

Is there some fundamental technical difficulty here (I don't see one), or does the programming task seem too daunting/laborious, or what ??

In short, two questions:

(1) Would the development be difficult? Why?

(2) Would the result be interesting/useful? Why?

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closed as not constructive by egreg, Kurt, Thorsten, Guido, cgnieder Nov 17 '12 at 17:25

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i suspect that most font developers are attracted more to other available font tools. (fontographer was the favorite earlier in the life of metafont.) another possibility is the lack of interest in the "meta" nature of metafont. "modern" fonts for the most part are developed on only a single size -- a real drawback to using them for math composition, but that has such a small audience that it's considered not worth the time and effort. so if such a tool is to be developed, it would probably have to be done by someone with a strong personal interest in the result. –  barbara beeton Nov 17 '12 at 14:12
    
Thanks. But your comments seem to address (mostly) the question of why few people use(d) Metafont. That's a somewhat different question. Of course, you could argue that no-one ever developed a GUI because there were few users of MF. But that argument could easily become circular -- maybe MF has/had few users because it doesn't have a GUI. –  bubba Nov 17 '12 at 14:43
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“Why has no-one ever created <insert something here>” can only ever be answered by speculation. May be someone has but hasn't shared it with the world. Or someone started but lost interest/time/... Or there has been too less interest. Or ... –  cgnieder Nov 17 '12 at 14:59
    
@barbarabeeton You still have "optical sizes" in "modern" (OTF) fonts, which are designed more thinking about distinct single (sets of) sizes. Anyway, you're right in saying these are not math fonts. –  NVaughan Nov 17 '12 at 16:27
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Metafont is based on solving linear equations; while a GUI might still be useful, the model is very different from common drawing programs. –  egreg Nov 17 '12 at 16:30

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