The FontLab Blog

For better fonts

Webinar Recordings

Our “Hinting” webinar this last Tuesday went off very well, with several of the attendees asking for more. Well you can’t reduce ten years of experience into just a single hour, so Monika will be back early next year with another hinting webinar – this one on more advanced topics.
Many people have asked about the webinar recordings. Yes, they are available. They are not up on the website yet, but they are available by direct link.
For the “Beyond Basics” webinar, people who have already registered can browse to
http://www.anymeeting.com/hfoic/EE55D989834F
and you will have immediate access to the recording.
For those who have not registered you will need to register first at
http://www.anymeeting.com/PIID=E958D980844F3D
and then you will be directed to the same URL as above to view the recording.

Similarly for the “Hinting” webinar, registrants can just go directly to
http://www.anymeeting.com/hfoic/EE56DA89814A
while others can register first at
http://www.anymeeting.com/PIID=E958D688864638
and then go to the recording.

P.S. Remember if you have trouble registering that the system doesn’t tolerate popup blockers well, especially in Safari or Chrome. You might want to try registering using Firefox or IE.

ATypI Attendance Hits 400

Greetings from Amsterdam! The annual ATypI conference kicked off here yesterday with near record attendance. We haven’t seen a crowd this size since the early 00s.
Day 1 had three tracks – one on non-Latin type and another on technology – and an all-day workshop on Indic type design. Unfortunately I didn’t arrive until the afternoon, but by that time the meeting rooms were full and the vibes were good. In the latter part of the afternoon Frank Griesshammer explained new changes in the Adobe kern feature and a bunch of neat scripts for font manipulation; Adam demonstrated colour fonts and their use in overlays using the new version 4 of TransType; and David Lemon and Werner Lemberg talked about the ongoing development of the Postscript rasterizer for mobile platforms.
In the evening we gathered in the Aula, Oude Lutherse Kerk, a beautiful historic church a few blocks away from the hotel, for some short presentations about interesting items from the EYE archives.

Day two also had three tracks: science, history/education, and workshops/meetings. The science track was mostly about legibility research. Albert Jan-Pool talked about the new DIN 1450 signage standard just out in April. It seems that the new gold standard for height reference in legibility research is visual angle of the x-height. No more fussing around with point sizes and the like. If you look at signage from this point of view the glyphs are actually smaller than much fine print. Takeaway: they have to be optically scaled to be more legible, just like other small print.
Continuing with the theme, Ann Bessemans told us about her development of Matilda, a font for children with poor vision. Significant finding: kids with visual impairment read fonts better if they have slightly more heterogeneity of rhythm than normal. The opposite of normally sighted children.
Sofie Beier and Mary Dyson showed their legibility research technique called RSVP, which they used with a new font called neutral test designed by Sofie to determine whether and which font design changes resulted in better legibility (Bold is worst). Sofie has even written a book on the subject, “Designing for Legibility”.
Nadine Chahine presented similar legibility research on Arabic Naskh script and came to the conclusion that increasingly complex (and beautiful) scripts actually decrease legibility.

At the end of the day we all adjourned back to the Oude Lutherse Kerk to hear Alice Rawsthorn give a great talk on where design meets life. Pithy quote: “Design can empower, or disempower, us in every aspect of our lives.” TDC then awarded Gerrit Noordzij their medal (to standing ovations) and finally it was off to the Bijzondere Collections for drinks and the opening reception.

FontLab hinting webinar sells out in three hours

Yes, it took only about 170 minutes from the time the announcement hit the web to fill all 23 of the available slots in Monika Bartels’ upcoming Fontlab tutorial webinar on hinting (“Hinting: The Design After the Design” on Tuesday, October 8, 11:00 AM). Who knew there was such a thirst for this arcane knowledge?

Certainly not us. We figured we might have trouble getting a couple dozen interested people together.

Of course we had a hint (pun intended). Just a week or so earlier Jimmy’s “Beyond the Basics: Font Editing Tips and Techniques” webinar had sold out in 9 hours. We sense a pattern.

So in view of the obvious demand we’re going to increase the available seats (retroactively even!) at our webinars. We were limited to 25 (but had to save a couple spots for the host and/or presenter), but now we’ve upped it to 200.

That means that if you tried to register for the hinting webinar but were told it was already full, or had problems with registration and it didn’t “take”, then you now have a “Get out of jail free” card. Just go back to the registration URL (http://www.anymeeting.com/PIID=E958D688864638) and sign up and it should let you in with no problems. As long as we stay under 200 people 🙂

This even applies to people who wanted to get into Jimmy’s first webinar (“Beyond the Basics – Font Editing Tips & Techniques” on Tuesday, September 17). Of course you can’t go back in time and participate, but we did make a recording. Until today you couldn’t view the recording because it was limited to only the original participants. But our new 200 limit now applies to that recording as well, so you can go back to the original registration URL (http://www.anymeeting.com/PIID=E958D980844F3D) for that webinar and sign up and you’ll get to see Jimmy explain all about the optical illusions of type design and a bunch of other neat stuff.

Just about an hour ago I sent out the invitations for Jimmy’s next webinar, “Son of Beyond Basics”. In this sequel der Fontmeister will go a bit further into the mysteries of type design and reveal even more tips and techniques – and answer questions. It will probably be about half new stuff and half a recapitulation of the most important points from the first Beyond Basics webinar. The registration URL is http://www.anymeeting.com/PIID=E958D688854F3D

One caveat about registering: AnyMeeting (the webinar system) seems to have a little problem with some browsers – especially if popup blocking is enabled. So if you’re using Chrome or Safari it would be a good idea to turn off the popup blocker. And if that doesn’t work then try Firefox or Internet Explorer.

Welcome to the FontLab blog!

It’s been long overdue… I  wasn’t really happy about what the various blog templates looked like, so I have been putting away the creation of our own. But finally, this year, responsive web techniques have become easy to use, the proliferation of web fonts has made it possible to create a page that’s easy to read continuously, so we’ve prototyped a new look, and — well — launched it (semi-officially).

We have a long line of content articles that shall be appearing here in the coming months. So, don’t bite your fingernails while waiting for revelations here in the next weeks, but feel free to visit us from time to time.

(Also, please bear with us for the time being — there are some design and functional glitches here and there which we’re planning to fix.)

Cheers!
Adam

On fractional coordinates

Theoretically, OpenType PS (.otf) supports fractional coordinates, but there are some technical caveats associated with it. In principle, we could say that the final font formats only support integer coordinates but during the work process, having fractional coordinates would be helpful.

For example, if you have drawn your glyphs on an integer grid, but then you’d like to make some adjustments such as: make it slightly more narrow, then slightly wider, then perhaps slant it by a few degrees and then slant it back, or make some tiny rotations, or maybe scale the glyph down and then up again — on an integer grid, the result will have accumulated the rounding errors from every one of these operations. On a fractional grid, all your shapes (the positions of the BCPs, the angles, the stem thicknesses etc.) will always remain just as in the original design.

Therefore, a hardwired integer grid such as the one in FontLab Studio does impose a certain limitation onto the type designer. A fractional grid such as the one in Fontographer allows you to avoid those rounding errors. But of course, at the very end, when you decide to generate or ship the font, you’ll need to align your points to an integer grid, or the software will do this for you.

ATypI 2014 – Barcelona

It’s official – the 2014 ATypI conference will be held in Barcelona, Spain. The dates are September 17-21. The first two days will be at the BAU School of Design and the last three at the Museu del Disseny (Design Museum). The museum has an auditorium capacity of 350, so there will be a limit on number of attendees next year. Register early 🙂

Glyphtext and webinar apology

After we published the recording of our first webinar, David Vereschagin contacted us with the following comment:

Jimmy Gallagher commits a serious Fontlab error when attempting to demonstrate letterspacing and setting sidebearings in his “Beyond the Basics: Font Editing Tips and Techniques” webinar. (This starts at about the 50 minute mark in the recording.) He fails to remember that putting /H into the metrics window in Fontlab will not yield a display of a slash and an H, but simply an H itself. When he inputs H/H/H he thinks he is showing how his spacing system works, but is only showing a series of Hs. Worse, when trying to show the letterspacing of HOH he claims that the sidebearings on O are the source of the letterspacing problem, when it’s clearly the left sidebearing of the H that is off. Everyone who attended that webinar or purchased the recording is owed an apology and a correction.

Thanks! I certainly do apologize for the confusion. Using the slash glyph as a “spacer glyph” was possible in Fontographer 5.0 and earlier, but you won’t get away with that so easily in FontLab Studio or the newest Fontographer 5.2. Rushing to finish and trying to toggle between FontLab Studio and Fontographer tripped me up. Thanks so much for catching this — we can always use comments like this so that we can do better next time!

And here’s what happened in more detail…

OpenType Layout feature classification

OpenType Layout features allow for orthographically correct display of complex scripts such as Arabic and Indic and provide a mechanism for the user to apply advanced typographic formatting to text. They are used in the SFNT GSUB and GPOS tables.

This document contains a useful classification of OpenType Layout feature tags. It is based on the OpenType spec version 1.6, with some additional entries about removed features and Microsoft-only Math features related to the MATH OpenType table.

This document is very technical in nature, and is primarily aimed at software developers who wish to implement user interfaces for applying OpenType Layout features in applications. 

Color fonts. Overview of the proposals for color extensions of the OpenType font format.

Although Fontlab Ltd. debuted the Photofont technology some 8 years ago, the typographic community did not show much interest for multi-color fonts or typography. In 2013, it changed. Actually, this started a few years ago with Apple introducing the color emoji font into iOS, and then Mac OS X 10.7. Now, all major industry players (Apple, Adobe, Mozilla, Google and Microsoft) have proposed their formats, which aim to extend the OpenType font format by the ability of including color glyph information. The proposals differ in many aspects. Below is a discussion of the proposals along with some personal comments.

This article is very technical. No completeness or correctness of the information presented below, and all views are personal.


The video tutorial by Adam Twardoch accompanies this article by providing a more practical take on color font creation issues.

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