A thank you to Google from Desktop Linux

We sometimes grumble a bit about Google in the community when they do things we feel are not generally helpful to the overall community. But I think we should be equally good at saying thanks when Google do great things. So thanks to our LibreOffice superstar Caolán McNamara I was made aware that Google has released two new open fonts along with Chrome. So what is so exciting about a new font you say?

Well one of them, called Carlito, is metrically compatible with the current MS default font called Calibri. You can get the font here. It is licensed under the OFL 1.1.

So for those wondering what metrically compatible means, I for sure did when I first heard the term, it basically mean that while the individual glyphs in the font doesn’t look like the Calibri font (that would not be legal), each individual letter has the same height and width as their Calibri counterpart. This means that if you import a document using Calibri into LibreOffice and you don’t have Calibri or a metrically compatible font installed, your document layout would change as the font LibreOffice would need to use instead have letters that might in general be slightly wider for instance. So with Carlito installed this will no longer be a problem, the glyphs might look a bit different, but you can be sure that the overall layout stays the same.

And for certain professions that can be crucial, for instance try speaking to the legal team of your company about them using LibreOffice and they are likely to tell you that they will only do that if they can feel certain that when another lawyer sends them a contract, the layout will not change when they view it, as such changes could at least potentially be the cause of a dispute over the meaning of a paragraph. (That worry was probably the main reason the legal profession stayed with Word Perfect for such a long time, when the rest of the world had moved on.)

So we are now going to get this new font packaged for Fedora and Red Hat Enterprise Linux so soon as possible, to make your productivity experience even better :)

So thank you Google, this is much appreciated!


#1 nim on 10.10.13 at 12:24

Yet none of the Google fonts are formally released for external use and even the people behind the google font directory do no know where is the canonical release point, how to be sure to get the latest version, and who to contact about fixes

They only emerge as bits in more-or-less official google product mirrors, in dumped over the wall mode

#2 uraeus on 10.10.13 at 12:56

Sure it is not perfect, but despite these issues it still leaves us a million times better off than we where before without these fonts.

#3 Casey Dahlin on 10.10.13 at 18:06

IANAL but I believe fonts that look identical are actually perfectly fine to create. Letterforms and their images are not eligible for copy protection. The font file itself, with its kerning rules etc. is what’s under protection (it’s considered a computer program legally)

#4 uraeus on 10.10.13 at 21:57

not a lawyer either, but since a drawing can be copyrighted I would assume so can glyphs

#5 Denis on 10.11.13 at 07:22

The designs of Calibri and Carlito, or Cambria and Caladea are completely different, they are just metrics compatible. The Liberation fonts and their Croscore equivalents (Arimo, Cousine, Tinos) are metrics compatible with Arial, Courier and Times New Roman but again their designs are completely different.
This just means that when a document originally set in one font is viewed with a metrics compatible font, no text should be reshuffled.
In no way do the fonts look identical, but instead the aim is to have document layouts be identical.

#6 uraeus on 10.11.13 at 09:54

Isn’t that what I said? :)

#7 Denis on 10.11.13 at 11:53

Yes, it is :D Sorry for agreeing verbosely.

#8 qqroach on 10.11.13 at 10:59

I made a fontconfig config to use Carlito whenever Calibri is requested, since Google only bothered to patch Skia.


#9 Francisco on 10.11.13 at 22:00

Hi, Cristian, thank you for sharing this.

There is somthing about this typeface that I think should be said: non of them had been designed (originaly) for being metric alternatives of MS typefaces.

Carlito is Lato (www.latofonts.com/) and Caladea is Cambo (www.huertatipografica.com.ar/tipografias/cambo/ejemplos.html) but with metrics tweeked to match MS fonts ones.

#10 uraeus on 10.12.13 at 08:56

Ah, didn’t know that, thanks for the links and information :)

#11 Craig on 10.14.13 at 05:15

If lawyers are that worried about document layouts they should seriously not be using a word processor, much less Microsoft Word. It’s bizarre that they portay Word as some kind of bastion of stability or predictability. The Word file format is such a clusterfuck that even Word itself struggles to render it.

#12 Pravin Satpute on 10.15.13 at 07:05

We were looking for some alternative from some time and good to have these on board now. :)
These fonts are now packaged to Fedora and one can simply get them with yum. Package names are google-crosextra-carlito-fonts (https://bugzilla.redhat.com/show_bug.cgi?id=1017767) and google-crosextra-caladea-fonts (https://bugzilla.redhat.com/show_bug.cgi?id=1017766)