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HarfBuzz includes several auxiliary components in addition to the main APIs. These include a set of command-line tools, a set of lower-level APIs for common data types that may be of interest to client programs, and an embedded library for working with Unicode Character Database (UCD) data.

Command-line tools

HarfBuzz include three command-line tools: hb-shape, hb-view, and hb-subset. They can be used to examine HarfBuzz's functionality, debug font binaries, or explore the various shaping models and features from a terminal.


hb-shape allows you to run HarfBuzz's hb_shape() function on an input string and to examine the outcome, in human-readable form, as terminal output. hb-shape does not render the results of the shaping call into rendered text (you can use hb-view, below, for that). Instead, it prints out the final glyph indices and positions, taking all shaping operations into account, as if the input string were a HarfBuzz input buffer.

You can specify the font to be used for shaping and, with command-line options, you can add various aspects of the internal state to the output that is sent to the terminal. The general format is

	hb-shape [[OPTIONS]]

The default output format is plain text (although JSON output can be selected instead by specifying the option [--output-format=json]). The default output syntax reports each glyph name (or glyph index if there is no name) followed by its cluster value, its horizontal and vertical position displacement, and its horizontal and vertical advances.

Output options exist to skip any of these elements in the output, and to include additional data, such as Unicode code-point values, glyph extents, glyph flags, or interim shaping results.

Output can also be redirected to a file, or input read from a file. Additional options enable you to enable or disable specific font features, to set variation-font axis values, to alter the language, script, direction, and clustering settings used, to enable sanity checks, or to change which shaping engine is used.

For a complete explanation of the options available, run

	hb-shape --help


hb-view allows you to see the shaped output of an input string in rendered form. Like hb-shape, hb-view takes a font file and a text string as its arguments:

	hb-view [[OPTIONS]]

By default, hb-view renders the shaped text in ASCII block-character images as terminal output. By appending the --output-file=[filename] switch, you can write the output to a PNG, SVG, or PDF file (among other formats).

As with hb-shape, a lengthy set of options is available, with which you can enable or disable specific font features, set variation-font axis values, alter the language, script, direction, and clustering settings used, enable sanity checks, or change which shaping engine is used.

You can also set the foreground and background colors used for the output, independently control the width of all four margins, alter the line spacing, and annotate the output image with

In general, hb-view is a quick way to verify that the output of HarfBuzz's shaping operation looks correct for a given text-and-font combination, but you may want to use hb-shape to figure out exactly why something does not appear as expected.


hb-subset allows you to generate a subset of a given font, with a limited set of supported characters, features, and variation settings.

By default, you provide an input font and an input text string as the arguments to hb-subset, and it will generate a font that covers the input text exactly like the input font does, but includes no other characters or features.

	hb-subset [[OPTIONS]]

For example, to create a subset of Noto Serif that just includes the numerals and the lowercase Latin alphabet, you could run

	hb-subset [[OPTIONS]]

There are options available to remove hinting from the subsetted font and to specify a list of variation-axis settings.

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