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.
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.
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.)
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.