Problem with a "self-made" OpenType Font

Dear all,
I am writing to you on behalf of the ESAD GestualsScript research team based in Amiens (France). This team of linguists and typographers led by Dominique Boutet and Patrick Doan is developing a typographic system named Typannot, for transcribing Sign Language. In a nutshell, it is an OpenType font, the characters of which are located in a private range of Unicode, and where each character represents an element of description of a Sign Language parameter (more info:

We would like our font to be used in ELAN as well, but we are encoutering some challenges…

We tested our font on ELAN in different environments:

  • MacOS HighSierra10.13 + ELAN 5.9 = our font is displayed perfectly in the ELAN tiers
  • Windows7 + ELAN = our font is displayed perfectly in the ELAN tiers
  • Windows 10 + ELAN 5.9 = our font is replaced by symbols (hearts, squares, etc.) in the ELAN tiers.
  • Windows 10 + ELAN 4.7.3 = our font is replaced by small white squares in the ELAN tiers

We have noticed that the only difference between Windows 10 and McOS is the place where ELAN seems to be looking for the font.

In MacOS we go to TIER> ADD_NEW_TIER> MORE_OPTIONS…> BROWSE_TIER_FONT and when the “select font” box opens, our font is in the list on the left handside (which contains family fonts).

In Win10, in the “select font” box, our font is not in the list on the left. To make it appear, it is necessary to select “dialog” in the list on the left. The required font appears, among other fonts, in the list on the right handside. Therefore, it would seem that ELAN sees this font as a font subfamily, not as a font family.

At the level of the Windows and mac font book, we do not notice any differences, and the font works perfectly in office automation software (Word, Excell, PPT, etc.) both in Windows and in Mac.

Do you have an explanation for this problem?
We thank you in advance

Best regards
Claudia S. Bianchini

Dear Claudia,

I have no explanation for this problem.
ELAN is written in the Java programming language and when presenting a list of available fonts or font families, it depends on what the so-called Java runtime environment retrieves from the underlying operating system. (Technically speaking ELAN isn’t looking anywhere for fonts itself.)
It seems like the Java environment doesn’t properly detect or get the family name of the Typannot font, for unknown reasons.

You can have a look, in ELAN, at View->Font Browser… and check if the unicode blocks of the font are detected and whether you can make the glyphs visible there. But it won’t solve the problem.

I don’t believe the font can be downloaded somewhere (yet)?