A clustering example for levels 0 and 1

The basic shaping operations affect clusters in a predictable manner when using level 0 or level 1:

The functionality, guarantees, and benefits of level 0 and level 1 behavior can be seen with some examples. First, let us examine what happens with cluster values when shaping involves cluster merging with ligatures and decomposition.

Let's say we start with the following character sequence (top row) and initial cluster values (bottom row):


During shaping, HarfBuzz maps these characters to glyphs from the font. For simplicity, let us assume that each character maps to the corresponding, identical-looking glyph:


Now if, for example, B and C form a ligature, then the clusters to which they belong "merge". This merged cluster takes for its cluster value the minimum of all the cluster values of the clusters that went in to the ligature. In this case, we get:

      0,1 ,3,4

because 1 is the minimum of the set {1,2}, which were the cluster values of B and C.

Next, let us say that the BC ligature glyph decomposes into three components, and D also decomposes into two components. Whenever a cluster decomposes, its components each inherit the cluster value of their parent:

      0,1  ,1  ,1  ,3 ,3 ,4

Next, if BC2 and D0 form a ligature, then their clusters (cluster values 1 and 3) merge into min(1,3) = 1:

      0,1  ,1  ,1    ,1 ,4

Note that the entirety of cluster 3 merges into cluster 1, not just the D0 glyph. This reflects the fact that the cluster must be treated as an indivisible unit.

At this point, cluster 1 means: the character sequence BCD is represented by glyphs BC0,BC1,BC2D0,D1 and cannot be broken down any further.