The Xft library is a library for displaying fonts on the X window system; internally it uses the fontconfig library to locate font files, and the FreeType library to load and render fonts. The Xft backend is the recommended Pango font backend for screen display with X. (The Cairo back end is another possibility.)

Using the Xft backend is generally straightforward; pango_xft_get_context() creates a context for a specified display and screen. You can then create a PangoLayout with that context and render it with pango_xft_render_layout(). At a more advanced level, the low-level fontconfig options used for rendering fonts can be affected using pango_xft_set_default_substitute(), and pango_xft_substitute_changed().

A range of functions for drawing pieces of a layout, such as individual layout lines and glyphs strings are provided. You can also directly create a PangoXftRenderer. Finally, in some advanced cases, it is useful to derive from PangoXftRenderer. Deriving from PangoXftRenderer is useful for two reasons. One reason is be to support custom attributes by overriding PangoRendererClass virtual functions like ‘prepare_run’ or ‘draw_shape’. The other reason is to customize exactly how the final bits are drawn to the destination by overriding the PangoXftRendererClass virtual functions ‘composite_glyphs’ and ‘composite_trapezoids’.