This manual page is not meant to be exhaustive. The complete documentation for this version of TEX can be found in the info file or manual Web2C: A TeX implementation.
M ETAFONT reads the program in the specified files and outputs font rasters (in gf format) and font metrics (in tfm format). The M ETAFONT language is described in The M ETAFONT book.
Like TEX, M ETAFONT is normally used with a large body of precompiled macros, and font generation in particular requires the support of several macro files. This version of M ETAFONT looks at its command line to see what name it was called under. Both inimf and virmf are symlinks to the mf executable. When called as inimf (or when the --ini option is given) it can be used to precompile macros into a .base file. When called as virmf it will use the plain base. When called under any other name, M ETAFONT will use that name as the name of the base to use. For example, when called as mf the mf base is used, which is identical to the plain base. Other bases than plain are rarely used.
The commands given on the command line to the M ETAFONT program are passed to it as the first input line. (But it is often easier to type extended arguments as the first input line, since UNIX shells tend to gobble up or misinterpret M ETAFONT 's favorite symbols, like semicolons, unless you quote them.) As described in The M ETAFONT book, that first line should begin with a filename, a \controlsequence, or a .
The normal usage is to say
mf 'mode= __n);]' input font''
to start processing font.mf. The single quotes are the best way of keeping the Unix shell from misinterpreting the semicolons and from removing the \ character, which is needed here to keep M ETAFONT from thinking that you want to produce a font called mode. (Or you can just say mf and give the other stuff on the next line, without quotes.) Other control sequences, such as batchmode (for silent operation) can also appear. The name font will be the ``jobname, and is used in forming output file names. If M ETAFONT doesn't get a file name in the first line, the jobname is mfput. The default extension, .mf'', can be overridden by specifying an extension explicitly.
A log of error messages goes into the file jobname.log. The output files are jobname.tfm and jobname.number, where mode in this example is shown generically as localfont (see below) must be substituted. If the mode is not specified or is not valid for your site, M ETAFONT will default to proof mode which produces large character images for use in font design and refinement. Proof mode can be recognized by the suffix .2602gf after the jobname. Examples of proof mode output can be found in Computer Modern Typefaces (Volume E of Computers and Typesetting). The system of magsteps is identical to the system used by TEX, with values generally in the range 0.5, 1.0, 2.0, 3.0, 4.0 and 5.0. A listing of gf numbers for 118-dpi, 240-dpi and 300-dpi fonts is shown below.
mag=magstep(0) 118 240 300 mag=magstep(0.5) 129 263 329 mag=magstep(1)? 142 288 360 mag=magstep(2)? 170 346 432 mag=magstep(3)? 204 415 518 mag=magstep(4)? 245 498 622 mag=magstep(5)? 294 597 746 Magnification can also be specified not as a magstep but as an arbitrary value, such as 1.315, to create special character sizes.
Before font production can begin, it is necessary to set up the appropriate base files. The minimum set of components for font production for a given print-engine is the plain.mf macro file and the local mode_def file. The macros in plain.mf can be studied in an appendix to the M ETAFONT book; they were developed by Donald E. Knuth, and this file should never be altered except when it is officially upgraded. Each mode_def specification helps adapt fonts to a particular print-engine. There is a regular discussion of mode_defs in TUGboat, the journal of the TEX Users Group. The local ones in use on this computer should be in modes.mf.
The e response to M ETAFONT 's error-recovery mode invokes the system default editor at the erroneous line of the source file. There is an environment variable, MFEDIT, that overrides the default editor. It should contain a string with vi editor can be set with the csh__ command
M ETAFONT can use most modern displays, so you can see its output without printing. Chapter 23 of The M ETAFONT book describes what you can do. This implementation of M ETAFONT uses environment variables to determine which display device you want to use. First it looks for a variable MFTERM, and then for TERM. If it can't find either, you get no online output. Otherwise, the value of the variable determines the device to use: hp2627, sun (for old !SunView?), tek, uniterm (for an Atari ST Tek 4014 emulator), xterm (for either X10 or X11). Some of these devices may not be supported in all M ETAFONT executables; the choice is made at compilation time.
This version of M ETAFONT understands the following command line options.
Use base as the name of the base to be used, instead of the name by which M ETAFONT was called or a % line.
Print error messages in the form file:line:error which is similar to the way many compilers format them.
Print help message and exit.
Be inimf, for dumping bases; this is implicitly true if the program is called as inimf.
Sets the interaction mode. The mode can be one of batchmode, nonstopmode, scrollmode, and errorstopmode. The meaning of these modes is the same as that of the corresponding commands.
Sets path searching debugging flags according to the bitmask. See the Kpathsea manual for details.
Enable mktexfmt, where fmt must be mf.
Disable mktexfmt, where fmt must be mf.
Pretend to be program name. This affects both the format used and the search paths.
Enable the filename recorder. This leaves a trace of the files opened for input and output in a file with extension .fls.
Use the tcxname translation table.
See the Kpathsearch library documentation (the `Path specifications' node) for the details of how the environment variables are use when searching. The kpsewhich utility can be used to query the values of the variables.
If the environment variable TEXMFOUTPUT is set, M ETAFONT attempts to put its output files in it, if they cannot be put in the current directory. Again, see tex(1).
Search path for input and openin files.
Command template for switching to editor.
A number of utility programs are available. The following is a partial list of available utilities and their purpose. Consult your local M ETAFONT guru for details.
Takes a gf file and produces a more tightly packed pk font file.
Produces proof sheets for fonts.
Displays the contents of a gf file in mnemonics and/or images.
Mnemonically displays the contents of a pk file.
Encoded text of M ETAFONT 's messages.
Predigested M ETAFONT base files.
The standard base.