FreeType is a C-written, customisable and lightweight software library which you can use to render fonts for a wide variety of projects. It produces a high-quality output of most font formats, making it a staple for many projects.
Extensive use options
This software font engine doesn’t provide APIs for higher-level features, such as graphic processing or text layout. However, it still has a wide array of uses, helping developers create display servers, graphics libraries, font conversion tools, and text image generation tools.
Design and features
FreeType lets you use simple APIs to access font content uniformly, and format-specific ones to reach particular data. It features a modular design, which helps you reduce code size by compiling only the modules necessary at any time.
The design works with embedded systems, allowing you to use client applications for memory management. You can use the same API to read ROM-based, remote and compressed font-files, thanks to the I/O stream implementation.
The program supports a long list of font formats, including TrueType and OpenType fonts and collections, Type 1, CFF, WOFF and Windows FNT fonts. There’s also limited support for Type 42 fonts, which serve as wrappers for TrueType.
Licensing and versions
Developers can use FreeType under two open-source licenses. The FreeType License is compatible with GNU version 3. Alternatively, it operates under GNU Public License version 2, which means that the program works with free and exclusive projects.
The current version of the program is FreeType 2, which distinguishes it from the original iteration, which currently has no maintenance and support.
Since FreeType was developed in ANSI C, it compiles with any C/C++ compiler. Otherwise, it doesn’t have any dependencies, which means you can install it on any system. It’s possible to disable external libraries you don’t want to use.
While some developers are working on comprehensive alternatives such as RustType, FreeType is so broadly used for a reason. It’s the best, most straightforward method of rendering fonts in any project type and for any developer.