I’ve been trying out the latest firefox beta (3.0b5) on my Mac, which is supposed to be the final beta before the release candidates. Mozilla expects that firefox 3.0 will be out in June. While looking over my blog post about The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle I noticed that the browser was automatically selecting the ‘fi’ glyph whenever it encountered these two characters together. The image on the right is a screenshot showing the actual rendering using Adobe Minion as the browser font. Notice that the third letter ‘i’ in the word ‘identified’ has no dot on it because the dot would collide with the ball at the tip of the ‘f’ letter preceding it. As far as I know, not even Microsoft Word can do this. Pretty sad when a supposedly fully functional word processor from the world’s largest and most powerful software company can’t even incorporate a feature that’s built into an open-source web browser (and which has been part of TeX since it's beginnings in 1978).
Admittedly, this feature looks a little strange when implemented on a font that doesn’t do it very well (like Geneva, which had been the default for my browser until I switched to Adobe Myriad), but at least the ability is there now. I looked on the about:config page to see if there was a way to turn it off for those situations where you’re stuck with a lame font, but I didn’t find any options related to ligatures.