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Developer(s) Behdad Esfahbod, Simon Hausmann, Martin Hosken, Jonathan Kew, Lars Knoll, Werner Lemberg, Owen Taylor, David Turner
Stable release 1.7.1 (14 November 2017 (2017-11-14)[1])
Repository https://cgit.freedesktop.org/harfbuzz/, git://anongit.freedesktop.org/harfbuzz
Written in C++
Operating system Windows, Unix-like
Type Software development library
License MIT
Website freedesktop.org/wiki/Software/HarfBuzz/

HarfBuzz (loose transliteration of Persian حرف‌باز harf-bāz, meaning "Opentype")[2] is a software development library for text shaping, which is the process of converting Unicode text to glyph indices and positions. The newest version, New HarfBuzz, targets various font technologies while the first version, Old HarfBuzz, targeted only OpenType fonts.[3] New HarfBuzz provides only text shaping functions and not text layout or rendering, which require other libraries. Pango, which incorporates HarfBuzz, can be used for higher-level text layout, and FreeType or Anti-Grain Geometry for text rendering.

The goals for New HarfBuzz, as set by the developers, are for HarfBuzz to be beautiful, robust, flexible, efficient, and portable. Some potential applications that are a good fit for HarfBuzz are: graphical user interface (GUI) toolkits, web browsers, word processors, designer tools, font design tools, terminal emulators, batch document processors, and TeX engines.[4]


Behdad Esfahbod, developer of HarfBuzz

HarfBuzz evolved from code that was originally part of the FreeType project. It was then developed separately in Qt and Pango. Then it was merged back into a common repository with an MIT license. This was Old HarfBuzz, which is no longer being developed, as the path going forward is New HarfBuzz. In 2013, Behdad Esfahbod won the O'Reilly Open Source Award for his work on HarfBuzz.[5]

Major users

As of 2016, HarfBuzz users include the open-source toolkits Qt, Pango (GTK+), Mapnik; and the standalone applications Firefox, Chromium,[6] Scribus,[7] XeTeX, and LibreOffice (Linux version only since 4.1,[8] all platforms since 5.3[9]).

See also

  • Graphite (SIL) – a programmable Unicode-compliant smart-font technology and rendering system developed by SIL International.
  • Uniscribe and DirectWrite – two APIs that provide similar functionality on Microsoft Windows platform (HarfBuzz can be used instead of them on Windows also)
  • Core Text – an API provides similar functionality on OS X (HarfBuzz can be used instead of it on OS X also)


  1. ^ "index - harfbuzz". Tag section. Retrieved 14 November 2017. 
  2. ^ "HarfBuzz". freedesktop.org. 
  3. ^ "HarfBuzz Official website". Retrieved 10 November 2012. 
  4. ^ HarfBuzz presentation slides from the Internationalization & Unicode Conference, October 2009.
  5. ^ "O'Reilly Open Source Awards: OSCON 2013". 26 July 2013. 
  6. ^ Esfahbod, Behdad (18 January 2010). "State of Text Rendering". Retrieved 10 November 2012. 
  7. ^ "Scribus 1.5.3 Released". 22 May 2017. Retrieved 13 August 2017. 
  8. ^ "Release Notes 4.1". Wiki. The Document Foundation. 10 July 2013. Retrieved 12 July 2013. 
  9. ^ "Release Notes 5.3". Wiki. The Document Foundation. 11 November 2016. Retrieved 17 November 2016. 

External links