The FontLab Blog

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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.

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.

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