Moments ago, at the ATypI conference in Warsaw, representatives from Google, Microsoft, Apple and Adobe unveiled version 1.8 of the OpenType specification, featuring a surprise in the form of variable fonts (a.k.a. OpenType Variations). This is an extension and updating of the 1990s GX Variations technology invented by Apple, and a functional superset of Adobe’s Multiple Master technology.
Links which should all be live shortly if they are not already:
The variable fonts enabled by this technology will offer more freedom to type designers and font users, and smaller file sizes for packaging font families. Type designers can enable one or more axes of variation, such as weight, width, or optical size. These can be done with true typographic finesse — we’re not talking artificial stretching and automatic algorithms.
FontLab has already recently begun work on integrating support for variable OpenType fonts in FontLab VI. Indeed, sharp-eyed users of the most recent FontLab VI Public Preview builds may note that they already contain a “Variations” panel, which already features some of the key flexibilities allowed by variable fonts but not in, say, Multiple Master: masters at any point in the design space, and potentially many more design axes. FontLab VI will ship with some degree of OpenType Variations support, and we will continue work on OpenType Variations afterwards, both for FontLab VI and other products.
Variations panel prototype from FontLab VI (build 6101)
Long-time type industry watchers might be aware that FontLab was the first font editor to offer designers a full visual environment for working with Adobe’s Multiple Master technology. I did my own Master’s thesis in this area, and FontLab’s Adam Twardoch has been suggesting for several years, to anyone who would listen, how it wouldn’t be hard to add GX Variations to OpenType.
So needless to say, the FontLab team is very excited to see the unveiling of this new technology, and is fully supportive of this announcement. I have already written an article for Communication Arts magazine about OpenType Variations and what it means for designers, and next week I will be talking about it at the WebVisions conference in Chicago. You can already see the seeds in our latest FontLab VI Public Preview, and there is more to come!
Monday September 22 is your last day to get the incredibly powerful and useful OTMaster 3.7 font editing tool from our friends at Dutch Type Library and URW++ is 50% off! For even more savings, you can save 25% on Fontographer 5 in a bundle with OT Master at half off!
From now until the end of August September 21, the incredibly powerful and useful OTMaster 3.7 font editing tool from our friends at Dutch Type Library and URW++ is 50% off! For even more savings, you can save 25% on Fontographer 5 in a bundle with OT Master at half off!
DTL OTMaster is a technical font viewer and editor that allows in-depth examination and fine low-level tuning of any OpenType font, TrueType font or TrueType Collection. Because of its non-invasive nature, DTL OTMaster allows type designers and font developers to make small modifications to specific parts of an .otf, .ttf or .ttc font without changing other aspects of the font. It can also serve as an excellent font testing tool. Professional font users benefit from OTMaster’s ability to examine the fonts’ inner structures, and to fix some common technical problems. Software vendors and developers will find DTL OTMaster an indispensable tool that will aid their globalization and internationalization efforts.
Fontographer5.2 is our font editor for designers, easier than ever to use, but with industrial-strength FontLab technology under the hood.
Both OTMaster and Fontographer are available on both Mac OS X and Windows.
Multi-color fonts are still bleeding edge technology, so no one format is universally (or even widely) supported. But they do work today in a number of places, especially if you can make a font that supports several of the competing would-be standards! This YouTube video by our own Adam Twardoch shows how to create multi-color fonts across multiple color formats, with existing FontLab apps.
There are a host of utilities that can make the font making and editing experience easier and faster. Some work directly in FontLab Studio via the Python scripting language, and others are separate items. Here is how to install Python-related tools, and the many scripts and things they enable, to work with FontLab Studio 5.1+ on Mac OS and Windows. (If you are using earlier versions, please upgrade to 5.1.x Mac and 5.2.x Windows. Upgrades from 5.0 and higher are free!)
You do not have to be a programmer to make use of these tools! While folks who are at least moderately geeky and technical will get more out of most of these tools, almost anybody who can use FontLab Studio will find value in tools such as TTX, and benefit from some scripts they can run “out of the box.” Once you get this stuff set up, you can install more macros/scripts just by dragging them to the FontLab macros folder, and restarting FontLab Studio.
Port Angeles, WA, May 1, 2014 — FontLab announced today that Thomas Phinney has joined the company as its Vice President. Mr. Phinney brings more than 15 years of experience in digital fonts, type design, product management and working with type designers to FontLab, where he will initially assume responsibility for customer relationships, evangelism and distribution for the company, as well as advising on product development and processes.
Phinney spent his last five years at Extensis as Senior Product Manager for Fonts and Typography, dealing with web fonts and font management solutions. Prior to that, he was at Adobe Systems from 1997 to 2008, ultimately as Product Manager for Fonts & Global Typography, where his work included evangelizing best practices for font creation and coördinating and evangelizing the OpenType font format standard. He is involved in the technical, design, historical, forensic and business aspects of fonts.
Phinney is also a board member of ATypI, the International Typography Association, a frequent speaker at font and typography conferences, and a regular contributor on fonts and typography to Communication Arts magazine. He has an MBA from UC Berkeley, and an MS in Graphic Arts Publishing, specializing in Design & Typography, from RIT.
“Thomas will be an invaluable addition to our team.” said Ted Harrison, President of FontLab. “His wide experience, extensive connections, effective management style, and depth of knowledge made him the best candidate for this job. We’re very happy to welcome him to Fontlab.”
For over 20 years, Fontlab Ltd., doing business as FontLab, has stayed at the forefront of digital font software by remaining devoted to developing advanced font editors and digital type products. Their full line of products is dedicated to solving the most complex digital type issues. These products include: BitFonter, FogLamp, FontLab Studio, Fontographer, ScanFont, TypeTool, TransType, FontFlasher, FONmaker, SigMaker and CompoCompiler. More information on all FontLab products can be seen at www.fontlab.com.
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!
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 SFNTGSUB 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.