Pattern matching in Autocorrect

Note: From LibreOffice 4.2.5, the wildchard character sequence is .* (dot asterisk) instead of the plain * (asterisk) – 2014-06-04.
A new patch of Autocorrect feature allows the text replacement before or after arbitrary affixes depending on the starting or ending wildcard character * in the Autocorrect Replace pattern. This is a small, but useful enhancement in word processing, especially for affix rich languages, but I will show a nice improvement for French typography, too, using this feature.
For example, with the “i18n*” → “internationalization” item Autocorrect will find and replace i18ns with internationalizations, too. Hungarian spelling dictionary handles two thousand suffixes of a given noun, dozens of them are quite frequent, simply exceeding the limitations of the old Autocorrect feature. With the new patch and the modified Autocorrect list LibreOffice will be able to handle all forms of serious misspellings and common abbreviations, that is a real innovation for Hungarian and similar languages. But the following examples help the word processing in English and other languages, too:

  • Typographic correction of ellipses (with the precomposed ellipsis character U+2026): *…, eg. word… → word… (see below on the screenshot)
  • The same combined with quotation marks: “…*“… and *…”…”, eg. “…and a quote…” → “…and a quote…”
  • Simplified input for special symbols: *%o, eg. 7%o → 7‰
  • French punctuation. LibreOffice has got only a poor man’s input method for French typography, inserting full long (“typewriter”) spaces before question and exclamation marks, colon and semicolon, and before and after guillemets (only Graphite fonts Linux Libertine G and Biolinum G support French typography well). With the new Autocorrect patch and with the following replacements, it’s possible to get better spaces in the case of Unicode fonts with narrow no-break space (U+202F): *! ! (U+202F !), * ! ! (a replacement for the same sequence to avoid multiple insertion of narrow no-break space) etc. It seems, this could be a general method, because missing narrow no-break spaces are replaced by normal spaces (like in the recent poor man’s method). But fonts with narrow no-break spaces, like DejaVu Serif, Liberation Sans and Serif, Linux Libertine and Biolinum (also not Graphite versions) give better French typography (to use the new method, switch the French poor man’s method off in the Localized options of Autocorrect settings):


Hinting in the upcoming 3.5

LibreOffice 3.5 has got extraordinary typographical capabilities with the improved Graphite port of the new versions of Linux Libertine and Linux Biolinum font families: new and improved font variants from Philipp Poll et al., like the excellent Linux Libertine Display G (true size variant of Linux Libertine for 16pt or more) and the new bold and semibold variants (see also; font features, like true small caps, old figures, ligatures, proportional numbers have been extended with proper combining diacritics for scientific texts and several languages, and with extended superiors (also true size variant) for typesetting of captions, footnotes, etc., see release notes/examples of the Graphite fonts.
The main problem of the old versions of the Graphite TrueType fonts was the ugly hinting (the PostScript Type 2 hinting of the original OpenType fonts has been lost by transformation, and replaced by Fontforge autohinting). Fortunately (also thanks to the ttfautohint related article of Libre Graphics World editor Alexandre Prokoudine), I was be able to fix the hinting by the new FreeType tool ttfautohint, so Linux Libertine G and Biolinum G Graphite fonts of LibreOffice 3.5 are suitable for digital publishing, too. Moreover, ttfautohint gives better result in a few places, than the original OpenType hinting, see the bad space in the Linux Libertine Italic text “laz y”, or the bad “w” in the Biolinum Bold and Italic OpenType text. (Click on the picture to see the three different hintings in Adobe Reader on Linux).

Towards Desktop Publishing

Towards DTP slideIf you were not able to attend this presentation, please find the slides online. There are some really nice examples for the new InDesign-like typographical features of LibreOffice.
Unfortunatelly, I was not able to attend the conference, so many thanks to András Tímár for the presentation.