Friday, May 13, 2005

Wish-list item: Malayalam font for Mac OS X

Update (September, 2009). There is a Malayalam font for mac, now. Please see this for more details.

I mentioned in the last (and first) entry, that Anjali doesn't quite work on Mac OS X. If any Mac 'n' Malayalam enthusiasts are reading this (those who may be writing this are excused), please please consider making a Malayalam Unicode font for Mac OS X. I think all we need is a font, as OS X already supports other Indic scripts (Devanagari, Gujrati and Gurmukhi. That's all in 10.3; not sure what the Tiger has got). (If anyone knows better, please do comment.)

Here's (a slice from) my failed attempt at persuading Kevin into porting his font to OS X (he pleads not being able to afford a Mac).

Please see

Check out the chapter called "Font files" which has the description of
all the tables that Apple wants. It seems GSUB and GPOS are not
recognized by Apple. (The font-table dump seems to be dumping them as
generic data.)

You may find more useful info at their top-level directory:

and later

ah sorry, here's the link:

fontforge is a cool software which can handle apple fonts as well as
open type fonts.

the above page talks a bit about the morx table. i tried if fontforge
could automatically convert anjali's gsub tables to morx tables, but
it doesn't. see )

so that means some work will be needed there. the morx table
essentially consists of small "finite state machines" for doing the
contextual substitution. it also provides another subtable called
indic rearrangement, which sounds promising. i'm attaching the
Devanagari font that comes with Mac OS X, so that you can play around
with it when you get some time (i believe Devanagari rules are a
little more complicated than malayalam rules, because of the "nukta"
and more rearrangements and repositionings).

That's about all I learned from a night of browsing and hacking. I hope someone will be intrigued by that... intrigued enough to do something useful.

[Update (September, 2009). There is a Malayalam font for mac, now. Please see this for more details.]


alienvoord said...

10.4 supports Devanagari, Gurmukhi, Gujarati, and Tamil.

It's more than just installing the font - you also need the input method which maps the font to the keyboard layout.

I found this:

Anonymous said...

I know this post is old but for you and others who find it, you might be interested to know that I have developed a way to add support to large number of existing Malayalam fonts so that they work under OS X. More information can be found here

Rmax said...

Hi Manoj,

Have you found out a solution for OSX malayalam font rendering issue?

Rahul here, nice to meet you.

Manoj Prabhakaran said...


If you have X windows and KDE installed, then Konqueror works. Sort of.

If you're a Firefox user, things got worse with Firefox 3. Firefox 2 can show the Malayalam characters, jumbled as they were (just like say Safari does). But Firefox 3 will just show you boxes and numbers.

As the comments above mention, xenotype may be a solution if you're OK with paying for/using commercial software. I haven't tried it.

Btw, my information is based on OS X 10.4. Not sure how things are with 10.5.

Manoj Prabhakaran said...

Please see for more developments on this front.