IMPORTANT: 2020-06-05: We have moved to github.com/harfbuzz/harfbuzz. For latest releases, filing bug reports, etc, please go there. This page is kept for historical content that will eventually be ported to the Github space.

HarfBuzz is a text shaping engine. It primarily supports OpenType, but also Apple Advanced Typography. HarfBuzz is used in Android, Chrome, ChromeOS, Firefox, GNOME, GTK+, KDE, LibreOffice, OpenJDK, PlayStation, Qt, XeTeX, and other places.


For tarball releases of HarfBuzz, look here. At the same place you will also find Win32 binary bundles that include libharfbuzz DLL, hb-view.exe, hb-shape.exe, and all dependencies.

The canonical source tree is available on github.

The API that comes with hb.h will not change incompatibly. Other, peripheral, headers are more likely to go through minor modifications, but again, we do our best to never change API in an incompatible way. We will never break the ABI.

If you are not sure whether Pango or HarfBuzz is right for you, read this.


See the build instructions.


To get a better idea of where HarfBuzz stands in the text rendering stack you may want to read State of Text Rendering, though, that document is many years old. Here are a few presentation slides about HarfBuzz at the Internationalization and Unicode Conference over the years:

Both development and user support discussion around HarfBuzz happens on the harfbuzz at lists freedesktop org mailing list. Some of the developers frequent the #harfbuzz channel on freenode IRC server. If you write to the mailing list, you are guaranteed to get an answer. The same is not necessarily true about the IRC channel, or if you write to individual developers. Feel free to write to the list to tell us how you are using HarfBuzz, or how well it has been suiting your project's needs.

To report bugs or submit patches please use github issues and pull-requests.

For a comparison of old vs new HarfBuzz memory consumption see this.

See past and upcoming HarfBuzz Hackfests

You can monitor various aspects of the project using the following online services:

  • The code is replicated on GitHub; pull requests are responded to,
  • With each commit, all tests are run on Travis CI,
  • Public API / ABI changes are tracked across releases on ABI Tracker,
  • Extensive testing dashboard run by Jonathan Kew here,

ICU LayoutEngine

If your application uses ICU LayoutEngine library, there is a replacement library called icu-le-hb here that uses HarfBuzz to provide the ICU ?LayoutEngine API. The C++ API is not ABI compatible, but the C API is. This library has not been tested seriously. If you use it, please report your experience to the mailing list.

If you use ICU ParagraphLayout (aka layoutex, aka libiculx), you need to build that against icu-le-hb. See here for instructions.