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.