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Article ID: 87115 - Last Review: November 21, 2006 - Revision: 2.3

This article was previously published under Q87115


The GetGlyphOutline function provides a method for an application to retrieve the lowest-level information about a glyph in the TrueType environment. This article describes the format of the data the GetGlyphOutline function returns.


A glyph outline is a series of contours that describe the glyph. Each contour is defined by a TTPOLYGONHEADER data structure, which is followed by as many TTPOLYCURVE data structures as are required to describe the contour.

Each position is described by a POINTFX data structure, which represents an absolute position, not a relative position. The starting and ending point for the glyph is given by the pfxStart member of the TTPOLYGONHEADER data structure.

The TTPOLYCURVE data structures fall into two types: a TT_PRIM_LINE record or a TT_PRIM_QSPLINE record. A TT_PRIM_LINE record is a series of points; lines drawn between the points describe the outline of the glyph. A TT_PRIM_QSPLINE record is a series of points defining the quadratic splines (q-splines) required to describe the outline of the character.

In TrueType, a q-spline is defined by three points (A, B, and C), where points A and C are on the curve and point B is off the curve. The equation for each q-spline is as follows (xA represents the x-coordinate of point A, yA represents the y-coordinate of point A, and so on)
   x(t) = (xA-2xB+xC)*t^2 + (2xB-2xA)*t + xA
   y(t) = (yA-2yB+yC)*t^2 + (2yB-2yA)*t + yA
where t varies from 0.0 to 1.0.

The format of a TT_PRIM_QSPLINE record is as follows:
  • Point A on the q-spline is the current position (either pfxStart in the TTPOLYGONHEADER, the starting point for the TTPOLYCURVE, or the ending point of the previous TTPOLYCURVE).
  • Point B is the current point in the record.
  • Point C is as follows:
    • If the record has two or more points following point B, point C is the midpoint between point B and the next point in the record.
    • Otherwise, point C is the point following point B.
The following code presents the algorithm used to process a TT_PRIM_QSPLINE record. While this code demonstrates how to extract q-splines from a TT_PRIM_QSPLINE record, it is not appropriate for use in an application.
   pfxA = pfxStart;                // Starting point for this polygon

   for (u = 0; u < cpfx - 1; u++)  // Walk through points in spline

   pfxB = apfx[u];              // B is always the current point
   if (u < cpfx - 2)            // If not on last spline, compute C

      pfxC.x = (pfxB.x + apfx[u+1].x) / 2;  // x midpoint
      pfxC.y = (pfxB.y + apfx[u+1].y) / 2;  // y midpoint

   else                         // Else, next point is C

      pfxC = apfx[u+1];

                                // Draw q-spline
   DrawQSpline(hdc, pfxA, pfxB, pfxC);
   pfxA = pfxC;                 // Update current point
The algorithm above manipulates points directly, using floating-point operators. However, points in q-spline records are stored in a FIXED data type. The following code demonstrates how to manipulate FIXED data items:
   FIXED fx;
   long *pl = (long *)&fx;

   // Perform all arithmetic on *pl rather than on fx

   *pl = *pl / 2;
The following function converts a floating-point number into the FIXED representation:
   FIXED FixedFromDouble(double d)

   long l;

   l = (long) (d * 65536L);
   return *(FIXED *)&amp;l;

In a production application, rather than writing a DrawQSpline function to draw each q-spline individually, it is more efficient to calculate points on the q-spline and store them in an array of POINT data structures. When the calculations for a glyph are complete, pass the POINT array to the PolyPolygon function to draw and fill the glyph.

The following example presents the data returned by the GetGlyphOutline for the lowercase "j" glyph in the 24-point Arial font of the 8514/a (Small Fonts) video driver:
   GetGlyphOutline GGO_NATIVE 'j'
   dwrc            = 208      // Total native buffer size in bytes
   gmBlackBoxX, Y  = 6, 29    // Dimensions of black part of glyph
   gmptGlyphOrigin = -1, 23   // Lower-left corner of glyph
   gmCellIncX, Y   = 7, 0     // Vector to next glyph origin

   TTPOLYGONHEADER #1           // Contour for dot on "j"
   cb       = 44              // Total size of dot polygon
   dwType   = 24              // TT_POLYGON_TYPE
   pfxStart = 2.000, 20.000   // Start at lower-left corner of dot


   wType  = TT_PRIM_LINE
   cpfx   = 3
   pfx[0] = 2.000, 23.000
   pfx[1] = 5.000, 23.000
   pfx[2] = 5.000, 20.000   // Automatically close to pfxStart

   TTPOLYGONHEADER #2   // Contour for body of "j"
   cb       = 164     // Total size is 164 bytes
   dwType   = 24      // TT_POLYGON_TYPE
   pfxStart = -1.469, -5.641

   TTPOLYCURVE #1     // Finish flat bottom end of "j"

   wType  = TT_PRIM_LINE
   cpfx   = 1
   pfx[0] = -0.828, -2.813

   TTPOLYCURVE #2    // Make hook in "j" with spline

                    // Point A in spline is end of TTPOLYCURVE #1
    wType  = TT_PRIM_QSPLINE
    cpfx   = 2               // two points in spline -> one curve
    pfx[0] = -0.047, -3.000  // This is point B in spline
    pfx[1] = 0.406, -3.000   // Last point is always point C

   TTPOLYCURVE #3    // Finish hook in "j"

                    // Point A in spline is end of TTPOLYCURVE #2
   cpfx   = 3               // Three points -> two splines
   pfx[0] = 1.219, -3.000   // Point B for first spline
                             // Point C is (pfx[0] + pfx[1]) / 2
   pfx[1] = 2.000, -1.906   // Point B for second spline
   pfx[2] = 2.000, 0.281    // Point C for second spline

   TTPOLYCURVE #4    // Majority of "j" outlined by this polyline

    wType  = TT_PRIM_LINE
    cpfx   = 3
    pfx[0] = 2.000, 17.000
    pfx[1] = 5.000, 17.000
    pfx[2] = 5.000, -0.250

   TTPOLYCURVE #5    // start of bottom of hook

    wType  = TT_PRIM_QSPLINE
    cpfx   = 2               // One spline in this polycurve
    pfx[0] = 5.000, -3.266   // Point B for spline
    pfx[1] = 4.188, -4.453   // Point C for spline

   TTPOLYCURVE #6    // Middle of bottom of hook

    wType  = TT_PRIM_QSPLINE
    cpfx   = 2               // One spline in this polycurve
    pfx[0] = 3.156, -6.000   // B for spline
    pfx[1] = 0.766, -6.000   // C for spline

   TTPOLYCURVE #7    // Finish bottom of hook and glyph

    wType  = TT_PRIM_QSPLINE
    cpfx   = 2               // One spline in this polycurve
    pfx[0] = -0.391, -6.000  // B for spline
    pfx[1] = -1.469, -5.641  // C for spline

  • Microsoft Windows Software Development Kit 3.1
  • Microsoft Win32 Application Programming Interface
kbhowto KB87115
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