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HarfBuzz – text shaping library

Last Updated on April 3, 2024

HarfBuzz is an OpenType text shaping engine.

It solves the problem of selecting and positioning glyphs from a font given a Unicode string.

Text shaping is an integral part of preparing text for display. It’s a fairly low level operation; HarfBuzz is used directly by graphic rendering libraries such as Pango, and the layout engines in Firefox, LibreOffice and Chromium.

If you are writing a layout engine or graphics library yourself, you will need to perform text shaping, and this is where HarfBuzz comes in play.

HarfBuzz began its life as text shaping code within the FreeType project, but was then abstracted out to its own project.

Features include:

  • Text shaping turns codepoints into glyph IDs.
  • Involves querying the font’s ligature tables and determining what substitutions should be made
  • Chooses the correct glyph from the sequence of characters provided.
  • Unicode 10.

Support: Documentation, GitHub code repository
Developer: Behdad Esfahbod, Simon Hausmann, Martin Hosken, Jonathan Kew, Lars Knoll, Werner Lemberg, Roozbeh Pournader, Owen Taylor, David Turner
License: MIT License

HarfBuzz is written in C++. Learn C++ with our recommended free books and free tutorials.

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