Python script: DTF Cooker

James PuckettJames Puckett Posts: 1,385
edited March 2013 in Type Design Software
I have uploaded DTFCooker to Github. DTFCooker is a command line tool that generates parameters to use when sketching up type ideas. DTFCooker is based on Erik van Blokland’s TypeCooker, with less Noordzijzian logic, and is more inclined to inspire display fonts than text or workhorse fonts. It is open-source with a BSD license.


  • But it's the "Noordzijzian logic" that makes typecooker fun and interesting, right?
  • But it's the "Noordzijzian logic" that makes typecooker fun and interesting, right?
    That’s part of it. The randomness is another part of it.

    But now that I think about it, I did work some of that stuff into my cooker. The original version didn’t really address pens and contrast. In 2.0 Pens and contrast are there, but it also throws curve balls.
  • Mh. Did you ask Erik whether he is cool with this?
  • Jackson CavanaughJackson Cavanaugh Posts: 526
    edited February 2013
    It is pretty lame to take someone else's idea and rewrite a self-branded open-source version, even with permission and a citation.
  • No, I did not ask Erik for permission to do this. These are just scripts that spit out randomly chosen values from lists. Neither is an especially original use of a computer; random procedural generation of content has existed for decades.

    And anyway, Erik has already released an open-source version of his own code under the MIT license. Given that I doubt he’s going to be offended that I wrote my own code instead of forking his.
  • I'm missing something here — why would it be a problem to reuse open-source code in a manner that's consistent with its license? Isn't that sort of the point?
  • John HudsonJohn Hudson Posts: 1,069
    As I understand it, James didn't reuse Erik's open-source code; he wrote his own. It seems to me that James doesn't need to ask permission to do this, since Erik doesn't need to grant permission in order for someone to be able to legally do what James has done, i.e. produce a piece of open-source software that is similar in function to another piece of open-source software.

    Now, it might have been polite to drop Erik a note that said 'Hey, I dig your TypeCooker and want to write my own version that does things a bit differently. Any problem with that?', since James' script seems to be clearly inspired by Erik's. That's a question of manners, not permission. If we were talking about open-source type design instead of open-source scripting, then I'd say it would definitely have been polite to contact the original designer, since that is the ethical culture of our community (and perhaps why some people are upset with James). I've no idea what the ethical culture of open-source programming normally expects in this regard: maybe James' actions would be frowned on there too, but then again maybe they are within the pale.
  • Manners: to ask someone for a permission to do a thing differently?
  • Matthew ButterickMatthew Butterick Posts: 143
    edited February 2013
    "Good manners" in the open-source world usually means not asking the original author a question that can be answered by RTFM.

    That includes the license. I've never asked an author permission to use work under an open license (whether MIT, GPL, Apache, BSD, Creative Commons, etc.) Nor will I. Authors who release work under an open license must do so by choice. Therefore they have already accepted the burdens & benefits of that choice.
  • John HudsonJohn Hudson Posts: 1,069
    This seems to be something other than a license matter, though, because James didn't use Erik's code. Knowing Erik, I can't really imagine him minding what James has done, especially since he chose to release TypeCooker under the MIT license, which is the least restrictive open-source license. But what is licensed is presumably the software, not the idea. In my experience, open-source licenses tend to be leaky buckets: people readily presume permissions in addition to those explicit in the license agreement, based on the spirit of the license.

    Let's say I design a typeface and create a font that I release under the OFL license. That license permits anyone else to make modications, extensions and derivative fonts based on that font. But what if someone instead creates his or her own font, not decompiling or using any of my data, but in a style that is clearly and closely derivative of my design, and then releases it under his or her choice of license. I can imagine that a great many people would presume that this would be okay on the grounds that my font is open-source, but unless my license specifically covers the design as well as the font software, it may in fact be contrary to my wishes and, if design patents or other jurisdiction-specific design protection is in play, a legal issue.
  • Jan SchmoegerJan Schmoeger Posts: 280
    edited February 2013
    I still cannot see the analogy with a font (a creative, copyrighted work) and DTFCooker, a tool. Different protection applies to ideas and tools, different manners ensue.

    I think that James was polite enough by acknowledging the inspiration of Erik's script.
  • John HudsonJohn Hudson Posts: 1,069
    While I was suggesting an analogy -- in order to make a point about the distinction between an idea instantiated in a program and the actual code --, in the USA the relationship of a font and a computer script is not an analogy -- if we're to talk about protection --: both are computer programs, protected by copyright only as such, and subject to license agreements.

    Perhaps it is in the absence of better protection for typeface designs -- as distinct from their implementation as computer font software -- that as a community we tend to be ethically sensitive to how we treat each others' work, even when that work is a script, a tool, rather than a type design?
  • I wasn't trying to make an ethical/font/license/ip point. This just seems like a totally lame attempt at marketing, recreating someone else's idea and slapping your foundry's name on it.
  • RalfRalf Posts: 170
    edited February 2013
    Come on! It's a code snippet of 80 lines. TypeCooker isn't a commercial tool. DTF Cooker isn't a commercial tool. It's not »marketed« to any public »buyers«. How many people will make use of such tools? 20? 30?
    It's just James’ version of it and that's why he called it this way. If Erik should complain, James should take it down or rename it, but other than that, it's really not a big deal.
    Code snippets are shared all the time within a certain field. No big deal. Look at the code! There is »intellectual property« in there.
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