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Typesetting Arabic and CopticOther useful Egyptological applications

Hieroglyphic typesetting on a Mac

Here is a list of applications for typesetting hieroglyphs on a Macintosh, each with a link to the developers site and a short overview of its capacities.

Most of these applications use the so-called Manuel de Codage (MdC) conventions for input of hieroglyphs. These are the codes you have to use when you code your hieroglyphs by hand (instead of selecting them from drop-down lists). More information on this Manuel de Codage.

Some years ago there was also a proposal for a new Manuel de Codage format in XML (http://webperso.iut.univ-paris8.fr/%7Erosmord/DTD/xmlmdc.html). Progressions on this subject can be followed on S. Rosmorduc’s site, although this idea seems to be abandoned for a while now.

Also interesting to read is the EEF transliteration chart, which gives the conventional way of how to transliterate Egyptian texts for use in e-mail communication. And if you’d like to look up the Gardiner code of a particular sign, check out this on-line version of Gardiner’s sign index. A nice comparison of about 15 different hieroglyphic fonts (both from software and books) is avaiable here.

At last, you can view the complete Hieroglyphica list with ca. 6000 hieroglyphs, or read something more about the different sign lists used in Egyptology. Most applications only support the basic Gardiner sign list (i.e. about 750 signs), but some (notably MacScribe) offer a lot more.

On-line hieroglyphic typesetting using MdC

The following applications can be used with only a webbrowser: there’s no need to install any software because the hieroglyphs are generated on a remote web server and can then be saved to your hard disk. These are the most accessible solutions, but they have (sometimes) only limited functionalities. Input is done using MdC text or (sometimes) by selecting hieroglyphs from a list of pictures or phonetic values.

Hierowriter by P. Sciortino (tested version 3) ****

Short — this is a simple web interface for generating hieroglyphic texts. You can input hieroglyphs using Manuel de Codage coding and set some options (margins, size of the signs, Roman font). Then submit the form and the hieroglyphs are rendered as a png or jpeg image.

Availability — since the generation of hieroglyphs takes place on the web server and not on your computer, Hierowriter works on any computer with a web browser!

Price — the website can freely be used.

Strong points — very easy and accessible solution for typesetting hieroglyphs, no installation required.

Weak points — only outputs to bitmap: you’ll need very high text sizes to get decent print quality but this greatly increases the file size of the images, not a complete typesetting solution: hieroglyphs need to be imported as images in a text editor.

More information — visit Hierowriter’s website.

Glyphomat by H. Wodtke (tested 08-2004) ****

Short — Glyphomat is a web interface for HieroTex (see below). This means you can input hieroglyphs using MdC coding and it will generate a pdf-file you can view and/or download. It also has the added option of selecting hieroglyphs from two lists: one with phonetic values and one with all signs from Gardiner’s signlist.

Availability — since the generation of hieroglyphs takes place on the web server and not on your computer, Glyphomat works on any computer with a web browser. But you do need at least Acrobat Reader version 3 to view the resulting pdf-files (and the Acrobat webbrowser plugin to view them in your webbrowser).

Price — the website can freely be used.

Strong points — very easy and quick (no installation required) solution for typesetting hieroglyphs, high-quality output in pdf, everything can be done with mouse-clicks, so you don‘t need to know the MdC coding conventions.

Weak points — not all functionalities of HieroTex have been implemented (e.g. shading signs or drawing cartouches is not (yet) possible), the website and online help are only available in German.

More information — visit Glyphomat’s website.

Hieroglyphic typesetting environments using MdC

These applications typically combine both normal text editing and hieroglyphic typesetting in one environment (except MacScribe, which only supports limited in-line comments). Therefore, there’s no need to switch between different applications, making them perfectly suited to easily intergrate hieroglyphic texts in other documents. Input is done using MdC text or (sometimes) by selecting hieroglyphs from a list of pictures or phonetic values.

HieroTex by S. Rosmorduc (tested version 3.5) *****

Short — HieroTex is a Tex-package by S. Rosmorduc which allows you to type hieroglyphs in Latex, an advanced typesetting application. It gives a very high quality output (as pdf- or PostScript files) and has lots of options for typesetting (stacking and shading hieroglyphs, writing from left to right of from right to left, writing in columns, etc. You can also easily include transliteration, translation and grammatical rules).

Availability — HieroTex is officially not tested on Mac OS nor guaranteed to work. However, I’ve been able to get it running on my Mac, so check out the detailed installation instructions for Mac OS X I’ve made! And if you’ve successfully installed HieroTex, be sure to check out the page about how to use HieroTex on Mac OS X. There you’ll find a handy shellscript I’ve written which makes using HieroTex much easier, called htx2tex.

It’s not very likely that there will ever be an OS 9 version, because porting UNIX software to OS X is not that difficult, but porting it to OS 9 requires a lot more work…

A DOS/Windows-version is available somewhere, there is an RPM-package (for Redhat Linux) and the source code can be compiled on any Unix/Linux-system.

Price — freeware (GNU General Public License).

Strong points — high quality output, many features (e.g. rotating shading, stacking signs, even the option of adding extra signs, etc.), includes transliteration environment, integration in Latex which can produce very high quality documents, output to pdf-files without relying on bitmapped images (so file sizes remain small, even for large portions of hieroglyphic texts).

Weak points — no wysiwyg-system, not very easy to learn, you have to learn (some basic) Latex too, includes only the hieroglyphs from Gardiners list (but that’s not a problem for standard Middle Egyptian texts of course!).

More information — visit HieroTex’s website.

htxscripts by F. Vervloesem (version 0.3)

A sample output image from hieroglyphshow: hieroglyph Gardiner G7.Short — I’ve written some small shellscripts that make use of Latex and HieroTex (and also my htx2tex script) for some specific tasks. hieroglyphshow does what it says: it shows you an image of any hieroglyph (if you enter its Gardinercode), generated by HieroTex—this can be handy if you’re not sure which hieroglyph a certain Gardinercode represents.

Probably more useful is voclist, a simple script for generating vocabulary lists: it eliminates a lot of Latex-code, so typing a vocabulary list using HieroTex is made very easy, even for those who do not know anything about Latex.

Availability — works on any UNIX-based OS if Latex, HieroTex and htx2tex are installed (voclist might need some other Latex-packages, depending on your needs): Mac OS X (I only tested that), Linux (not guaranteed to work), etc.

Price — freeware.

Strong points — since I’ve made the two scripts myself, I’m probably not the right person to review them ;-)

Weak points — idem.

More information — visit the page about my htxscripts.

JSesh by S. Rosmorduc (tested version 1.1d) ****

Short — JSesh is a Java-application to edit hieroglyphic texts in Manuel de Codage format. It’s intended to become a full hieroglyphic editor and database (and I suppose it will replace TKSesh by then), but for now database-functionality is still lacking…

Availability — since it’s a Java-application it runs without problems on Mac OS X, and maybe too on Mac OS 9, but I haven’t been able to test that. The installer creates a bunch of files including jsesh.jar: just double-click it to launch the program.

It works on Windows too and any modern version of Unix/Linux that supports Java.

Price — freeware (GNU General Public License).

Strong points — easy to use hieroglyphic editor. You can export the rendered hieroglyphic version of a MdC-file to jpeg, pdf, wmf or html, which makes sharing hieroglyphic texts with other people (that do not have an application as JSesh) a lot easier (and it also offers several options for integration with other applications). Printing is also possible. Almost every MdC-code (e.g. different signs, cartouches, philological notations, etc.) can be inserted from a couple of dropdown-menu’s, so you do not necessarily need to learn the MdC-encoding standard.

Weak points — Adds some extensions to the MdC-standard (some extra features), but of course these extra features will only be recognized by JSesh, so strictly speaking JSesh doesn't output ‘standard’ MdC-files (but of course there are many applications that use their slightly adapted version of MdC). This can, however, sometimes cause small problems if you exchange MdC-files with users of other applications (i.e. they won‘t see exaclty the same hieroglyphic representation as you had intended)… It’s not really a weak point of JSesh only, but I think that many different slightly adapted versions of MdC is not what we need: if there’s only one standard that is fully supported by all applications, that would be very nice for people who use different applications :-)

More information — visit JSesh’s website.

MacScribe by E. Aubourg (version 2.0.9, not tested) (****)

Short — MacScribe can be seen as the Mac version of WinGlyph. It has the same features (input through coding or a dropdown menu, output to pict or eps, extended library of 6000 hieroglyphs available, etc.).

Availability — only available for OS 9, therefore I’ve not been able to test it… However, a Mac OS X version is in beta-testing now, so it should become available soon.

Price — €30 (Light version, limited to 800 hieroglyphs) or €200 (Full version, €100 for an upgrade or if you’re a full-time student). A demo can be downloaded.

Strong points — extended library of 6000 hieroglyphs available in full version, input and editing can be done wysiwyg-style for beginners and hand-coded for advanced users.

Weak points — not a complete solution for typesetting hieroglyphs: you still have to import all the generated pict- or eps-files into your word processor. This means you have to switch between applications all the time.

More information — visit MacScribe's website.

mdc2html by G. N. Watson (tested version 2.04) ***

Short — mdc2html is a perl-script that takes a textfile with MdC text as input, and generates a html-file with the hieroglyphic text (using gif images). The hieroglyphic images are taken from HieroTex, but to run this script you neither need HieroTex or LaTeX to be installed.

Availability — runs on UNIX based systems such as Mac OS X. Maybe it does work on OS 9 if you install a Perl interpreter.

It should work on any Unix/Linux-system and maybe on Windows too (if you install Perl)

Price — freeware.

Strong points — relative easy to install, output to html which can be posted on a website to share with anybody (you only need a webbrowser to view it), you can add extra signs if needed (if you have an image of it).

Weak points — can only be used for screen output, because the resolution of the images is to low to get a decent print output, advanced options of MdC (such as superposition, shading and scaling) are not available, there is a limit of 2000 glyphs for one text file (to prevent crashes of certain browsers when viewing the html file).

More information — visit http://www.itee.uq.edu.au/~gwat/pers/hiero/mdc2html/mdc2html_readme.html. The site was offline during my last update (30/08/2005), I’m not sure what happened with it…

Hieroglyphic typesetting using RES

Recently, M.-J. Nederhof proposed the RES (Revised Encoding Scheme) as a modern, suitable alternative to MdC. There are (unfortunately) not yet some editors who use this encoding scheme, but his own res2image can already be used to generate images of hieroglyphs using this RES-encoding.

res2image by M.-J. Nederhof (tested version 0.2.3) ***

Short — this is a very basic RES-interpreter: it takes a textfile with RES-code and generates an image of the hieroglyphs. There’s no wysisyw-editor available yet for the moment.

Availability — with some small changes in the Makefile, I’ve been able to compile res2image on Mac OS X. Download res2image.tar.bz2 (920kB) to your Dekstop and install it this way:

  1. Unpack the bzipped tar-archive with Stuffit Expander (just double-click it)
  2. Open a Terminal window (Applications>Utilities>Terminal) and type the following commands, pressing enter after each line. For the lines startin with sudo, you’ll need to enter your password and you need to have administrator rights:
    cd ~/Desktop
    sudo mv res2image/script/res2image /sw/bin/
    rm -d res2image/script
    sudo mv res2image /sw/share/
  3. That’s it! Now you can start res2image by just typing res2image in the terminal.

Maybe it works on OS 9 if somebody can compile it.

There is also a Window-version available, and by compiling the sources it should run on any Unix/Linux-system.

I’ve not included all source files in this package, because most people do not need them (it’s only interesting if you’re a programmer). But you can of course download them from M.-J. Nederhof’s site if you want to take a look at it.

Price — freeware.

Strong points — the RES-encoding is certainly a big step forward compared to the Manuel de Codage we’re using for so long now. Just read the article ‘A revised Encoding Scheme for Hieroglyphic’ (in pdf) and you’ll see why RES is far better than MdC. res2image is already a good tool to generate images of not too long hieroglyphic fragments (some words or sentences), with advanced typesetting options that MdC cannot handle.

Weak points — for the moment, it’s not as easy to use RES as it is to use MdC and the implementation of RES is still a bit limited (e.g. you cannot insert linebreaks or format entire pages). res2image is not very well suited to typeset long texts. The biggest problem seems to be the lack of an easy to use editor, but we can only hope this will be solved soon. At last, we’ll also need some applications to convert RES-code to MdC-code and vice versa, because there are already a lot of texts available in MdC-format: it would be nice to have these in RES too…

More information — visit the RES Project website, read a tutorial of the RES encoding scheme or the manual of res2image.

Hieroglyphic fonts (TrueType and/or PostScript)

Since this are just normal fonts, you can use them in any application you want (e.g. a word processor, an image editing application, etc.). However, this solution lacks the power of real hieroglyphic typesetting using MdC coding: there are no advanced options like stacking or shading signs, even basic grouping is almost impossible, and selecting signs is a matter of manually searching through several different fonts again and again…

Egyptian Hieroglyphs by Deniart Systems (not tested) (****)

Short — this is a collection of four fonts which include some 920 different hieroglyphs. The hieroglyphs are all very elaborated, so they’re more decorative than functional. Included are both TrueType and Postscript Type 1 font-files.

Availability — available for Mac OS X and Mac OS 9, since it simply consists of a couple of font files. It can be used on almost any operating system if it supports TrueType- or Postscript Type 1-fonts.

Price — Vol. 1 ($40), Vol. 2 ($30), Vol. 3 ($30) and Vol. 4 ($50) are all separate available. The complete package will cost you $150.

Strong points —very beautiful and extremely detailed hieroglyphs, can be used in any application that supports selection of fonts. Absolutely the nicest font available for decorative purposes I think…

Weak points — not useful for real typesetting purposes: signs cannot easily be grouped together (e.g. above each other for small signs) but only placed one after the other, decorative nature of hieroglyphs can be quite distracting if you actually want to read them instead of admiring them…

More information — visit Deniart Systems’ website.

Gardiner font by (?) / GlyphBasic by CCER (tested 08-2004) ***

Short — this are two sets of a couple of TrueType font files with all hieroglyphs of Gardiner’s signlist. They seem to contain the same signs, but GlyphBasic has them in another order than Gardiner font (making both fonts incompatible).

Availibility — available for both Mac OS X and Mac OS 9, since it simply consists of a couple of font files. It can be used on almost any operating system if it supports TrueType-fonts.

Price — freeware or public domain (not very clear to me).

Strong points — can be used in any application, like office applications, image editing, etc.

Weak points — not useful for professional typesetting purposes: signs cannot easily be grouped together (e.g. above each other for small signs) but only placed one after the other, selecting signs is rather difficult (but there is a html file available with an index of all Gardiner signs and the corresponding character/font you have to use to get that sign).

More information — visit Yare Egyptology (which has a copy of both sets).

P22 Hieroglyphic by P22 Type Foundry (not tested) (**)

Short — this set contains 3 fonts (Phonetic, Cartouche, Decorative) which include altogether some 250 signs. The signs have a nice look (especially the Decorative set), and seem to be primarily aimed at decorative used.

Availibility — available for both Mac OS X and Mac OS 9, since it simply consists of a couple of font files. It can be used on almost any operating system if it supports TrueType-fonts.

Price — each font costs $19.95, but the set of 3 will only cost you $29.95.

Strong points — nice design, especially the signs of the Decorative set are quite detailed.

Weak points — far from complete, so it’s quite useless for professional typesetting.

More information — visit http://www.p22.com/products/hieroglyphic.html.

LaserHieroglyphs by Linguist’s Software (not tested) (**)

Short — this is a set of 16 TrueType and Type 1 fonts, which cover altogether some 1000 hieroglyps, both in left- and in right-facing variants. These can then be selected and use in any application, e.g. in a word processor.

Availability — available for both Mac OS X and Mac OS 9, since it simply consists of a dozen font-files. It can be used on almost any operating system if it supports TrueType- or Postscript Type 1-fonts.

Price — $149.95. No demo available.

Strong points — can be used in any application, like office applications, image editing, etc.

Weak points — not useful for real typesetting purposes: signs cannot easily be grouped together (e.g. above each other for small signs) but only placed one after the other.

More information — visit LaserHieroglyphs’ website.

Transliteration fonts

This are simple TrueType fonts (which can be used in almost any application) for typing transliterations of hieroglyphic texts.

Umschrift TTn by D. Werning (tested version 2.1) *****

Short — this is a transliteration font from the university of Göttingen (Germany). It is based on Times New Roman, so it can perfectly be combined with it in one document.

Availibility — available for both Mac OS X and Mac OS 9, since it’s just a TrueType font. It can be used on almost any operating system if it supports TrueType-fonts.

Price — freeware.

Strong points — very easy to use, there is a nice keyboard layout picture with all signs printed on the key they’re assigned to, supports multiple transliteration systems (e.g. there are different signs available for the ‘D’ (Gardiner I10)).

Weak points — characters used to represent transliteration characters are not always the same as the ‘standard’ MdC which is used by MacScribe, HieroTex or other packages (e.g. ‘#’ for an alef instead of the more usual ‘A’, ‘o’ for ayin instead of ‘a’. This can make exchanging texts with people using other fonts a bit tricky.

More information — visit Umschrift TTn’s website.

Transliteration by CCER (tested version 2.1) ****

Short — this is the transliteration font used by WinGlyph, which makes it the ‘de facto’ standard font for transliterations.

Availabilty — available for both Mac OS X and Mac OS 9, since it’s just a TrueType font. It can be used on almost any operating system if it supports TrueType-fonts.

Price — freeware or public domain (not very clear to me).

Strong points — widely used among Egytologists (most Windows users probably use this font), this is also the font used on many websites who use a transliteration font, making this almost a ‘must have’ for every Egyptologist.

Weak points —doesn’t contain as much signs as UmschriftTTn, has only one style (italic) instead of the usual four styles of normal fonts.

More information — visit Yare Egyptology (which has a copy of this font). Note that there is also a MacScribe transliteration font available, but I couldn’t import it in FontBook, so it’s probably an older font which doesn’t work on OS X.

Egyptianized Latin fonts

A small selection (not meant to be exhaustive, this would be beyond the scope of this site) of normal Latin fonts that are heavily inspired by Egyptian hieroglyphs.

EF Ramses Regular by Elsner+Flake (not tested) (***)

Short — a font that uses (modified) hieroglyphs for every character of our alphabet (e.g. the ‘l’ is represented by the ‘b’-monoconsonantal sign).

Availability — available for Mac OS X and Mac OS 9, since it simply consists of a font file. It can be used on almost any operating system if it supports TrueType- or Postscript Type 1-fonts.

Price — $35 for the TrueType- or Postscript-fontfile.

Strong points — would be perfect to make a striking title or headline, nice design.

Weak points — only useful for short bits of text: even the four lines of text as a sample on their site are hard to read.

More information — visit EF Ramses Regular’s page at fonts.com.

 

©2005 F. Vervloesem.