Friday, July 18, 2014

Ek Mukta - A Free and Open Source Font Family

Last month we received an email from Girish Dalvi informing us about Ek Mukta - a free and open source font family. We wrote to Girish to find out more details about this project.

People in the publishing industry, bloggers and web designers have always felt that there is a lack of good quality Devanagari Unicode-compliant fonts available for use. The available fonts have limitations of their own, due to which they have not seen widespread acceptance. Girish Dalvi of Industrial Design Centre, IIT Mumbai, with his team have​ developed and released ​a free and open source font family, Ek Mukta, which hopes to be a new experiment in the field of design. This font family has both Devanagari and Latin scripts in it.

Usually while designing multi-script font families, visual features of one script unnecessarily dominate the other scripts. To avoid that, keeping in mind the similarities and differences of both the scripts, and by maintaining the balance of their characteristics, the font has been developed to form a visually cohesive family of two different scripts' letters (glyphs).

Mukta is Unicode 6.3 compliant and has several open type features.

The glyphs are narrower, especially the Devanagari ones, thus more content can be fit in the given space. Large number of Devanagari compound letters (conjuncts) are included, thus reducing the hassle of using half letters and keeping their beauty intact. The font can be used for languages such as Marathi, Hindi, Sanskrit, Konkani, Nepali etc. The differing glyphs for these languages are included as stylistic variations, such as the Marathi श and ल. The Vedic signs of Unicode Extended Devanagari are also included. Another feature is the addition of mathematical signs and fractions to the glyph set.

This font is mainly designed for use on the web. It has been hinted for display on screens. It has seven weights, viz. Light, Book, Regular, Medium, Demibold, Bold, Extrabold. Ek Mukta is the only family offering these many weights in the open source domain
This font is released under the Open Font License (OFL) as a free and open source font.

There are several reasons for releasing Ek Mukta under the Open Source License. Font development is a difficult and time-consuming activity where multiple skills are required. Once a source code is available, a base is acquired for developing new fonts. The existing files can be used to develop new fonts, thus saving time and efforts. Technologically relevant progressive fonts can evolve out of this. And if there are any shortcomings in this font then people contribute to improve it. It is not necessary that Open source fonts should be free, but this font family is both free and open source.

​One of the reasons for setting fonts free is the fact that students/designers don't have access to quality fonts while working on their projects/assignments, they either resort to using pirated fonts or use bad quality fonts. I am hoping by open sourcing this font more and more designers/students will use the Devanagari for their projects and assignments.

​Links related to the font:

Demonstration of font features/possibilities of how to use the font and advanced typographic layout using html+css

​​The fonts and the source code files are free to be used and studied and are available at:

Place where you can download the font

For reporting bugs, suggestions, feedback, collaboration

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