Hello, everyone! I thought I'd chime in here and explain my thoughts about this more in-depth. First off, PUA encoding of swashes, alternates, ornaments, et cetera, is a hack, and far from an ideal solution. And for most typefaces, shouldn't be used due to the issues it could cause (John Hudson made a good case for this.) However, for some display typefaces, where the font is only being used for a word or phrase, I haven't found it to be an issue. I've been PUA encoding my fonts for almost three years now and I haven't had any complaints. Still, it's a very lame work-around for a problem that needs to be addressed on a much larger scale. I knew about PUA for a couple of years before using it in my fonts and resisted it for all of the reasons mentioned in this thread, but for me and my audience, it is better than doing nothing.
The way this all began is by interacting with customers who, upon purchasing my typefaces, found they couldn't access the very elements that encouraged them to buy the typeface in the first place. And yes, I had in disclaimers and such as to not mislead, but it still happened. There were even more potential customers asking if there was a way to use my fonts to their full capabilities without investing the time and expense in professional software. There was overall a lot of disappointment and I found that this audience and their requests were growing... rapidly. So, I PUA encoded my fonts and put together instructions and videos on how to use them. While this works for my customers, the process still sucks, having to copy and paste glyphs out of Character Map or Font Book and into another program, but at least it works.
One thing I find encouraging about doing this, and changes I've seen as a result of it, is that this group of people, the crafters/hobbyists/DIYers, are a very tight knit group capable of pushing change. As a result, a couple of design programs that they use have indeed improved their typography. For example, there's a die-cutting machine and corresponding software out there called, "Sure Cuts A Lot," that now has a native glyphs panel as a result. If a small company like that has gotten the hint that their users find typography important and did something about it, I think others may follow suit. Or at least, I hope But I do think it's a good sign.
The crafters/hobbyists/DIY group is a big one that is growing rapidly and impacting the type market in many ways. My estimation is that they contributed to over half of my sales last year, without impacting the sales I received from professional users. I believe they're a force to reckoned with and the result of their influence will lead to both good and bad things happening in our industry - most of which I believe will be good and could be a boon to our industry. I have a lot of thoughts on this, which I should save for another thread before I go completely off topic, but I do believe this group's needs should be addressed and I think that as they're becoming more aware of this situation they could become an agent of change. Maybe that's a Pollyanna attitude to assume, but given what I've seen so far, I don't think so. Even though PUA works for them, they still grumble about it and want something better. And I've noticed that as they become more interested in type and aware of it, they become more sophisticated about it and want more and better options.
With Dave's suggestions, I'd like to look into those further and learn more about them before I comment. Ultimately, and I'm sure many of you will agree, the real changes need to happen with software developers and within the OS. How do we go about doing that? Petitions, public outcry, typographic mobs?
TypeThursday just published an interview with script typeface designer Laura Worthington. We discussed how she became a typeface designer, the rise of the casual user market and design considerations for this market.
A union could, amongst other things, help give us some leverage when negotiation fair distribution deals and royalty rates.
The trouble with the notion of a union in this situation is that we're not employees. We don't work for Monotype. Mostly we work for ourselves. Some of us are also actually employERS.
The fact that a virtual monopsony puts many type designers in a condition of dependency on an entity whose interests are not our own is just how the free market of goods and services is supposed to operate — according to those laws and coercive powers that determine what 'free' means in this context —, and any attempt by type makers to organise to strengthen their position in this market will pretty quickly be labeled a cartel and subject to antitrust suits. [Labour unions are generally treated as an exception within antitrust legislation, at least these days: in the past, antitrust law used to be regularly used to bust unions.]
The forms of structured organisation within which independent producers can come together are, as I understand, pretty much limited to a corporate model. In other words, we could all form a company, license our individual fonts to that company, and give that company exclusive rights to negotiate agreements on our collective behalf with distributors. This is essentially the cooperative approach, and as far as I can tell, it is the only structured organisation option that doesn't automatically fall foul of antitrust laws.
Don't be precious with your kerning and spacing. I don't even think twice about clearing kerning and resetting all my sidebearings. Just pull the trigger and start over; it's easier than trying to salvage bad spacing. Try this kind of rhythm for your n and build everything off that.
I'm not going to go into details, but would like to make an observation that I hope you will find helpful and not take the wrong way:
Novices (and I think it's safe to say you are a novice at this) are not in a very good position to judge the quality of their own work precisely because they are novices. In fact, novices tend to think their work is pretty good when it usually isn't. Pay attention to the advice of those who are more experienced. You will get better with practice and study. The way to tell you're getting good is when you look at your work and think it sucks.
For most of printing history types didn’t have common baselines. So mixing roman and italic from different vendors, or even dropping in a miscellaneous symbol, might require creative filing and leading of every mixed line. This was an expensive PITA.
So in 1913 ATF introduced the standard baseline. The standard baseline grouped types within sizes ranges. Each range had the same amount of space below the baseline so that printers could easily mix types from different foundries. In some sizes descenders got squished, which wrecked g. For example, sizes 7–10p all shared the same baseline. Such types could not be used for the generously leaded pseudo fine press editions that were printed with Monotype machines by publishers like the Garden Press and Brentano’s.
This definitely impacted typographic standards, because most old types had their g, p, and q recut to fit the baseline. It was unpopular with fine press printers like Rogers and Goudy—which is why some vendors offered type cast on its own baseline with appropriate descenders.
Walter Tracy discusses this in Letters of Credit, pp. 48–49.
To even mention the cost of the fonts as an issue is ridiculous. It's the kind of thing that a politician or a bureaucrat would toss out there to deflect attention from a real reason (or lack thereof). The cost of licencing is like a rounding error compared to the cost of a single overhead highway sign. And its a one time expense. It's cute how people outside the graphics arts seem to think a dime spent on fonts is 10 cents too much.
Nobody argues the cost of reflective sheeting, substrates, mounting hardware, Shop time, general contractors' markup on subcontracted work etc, but mention fonts... Suddenly it's scandalous.
For years, before we were re-branded, ClearviewADA was my employer's standard font for wayfinding signage. I've frequently had to tell suppliers, "I don't care what they cost, you the have to go buy the fonts. You're going to charge it back to us anyways - What's the problem?"