Plex; IBM's new font identity model

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  • Ben BlomBen Blom Posts: 228
    edited November 2017
    Simon Cozens: Otherwise it’s all just anecdotes and supposition.

    It is very hard to empirically establish the impact of free fonts on the font market. The fact that this is very hard, does not imply that such impact does not exist. So saying “You cannot empirically establish that!”, is not a way to debunk the suggestion that the font market is or will be impacted by free fonts.

    I am not sure if information about Dafont, is very relevant. Only the free fonts that potential font buyers consider to be an alternative for fonts they otherwise might pay for, are relevant.

    Concerning climate science: No one knows whether the current year, or the last year, is an outlier, or manifestation of a trend. Only later, when there is a historical context, it is possible to tell whether the weather in some year is an outlier or not. The same for font sales: It is impossible to tell whether the present font sales are an outlier, or representing a trend. Only “after the fact”, with hindsight, it is possible to tell that. A few observations may not be sufficient to be sure about a change in trend. And even if a change in trend of fonts sales would be clearly established, it would still very hard to say which factors caused that change in trend (free fonts may be just one of them).

    Perhaps the only way to empirically establish the impact of free fonts on the font market, would be like this. Have empirical data of the total font revenue in a specific year, say $X. Have empirical data about the use in that year of free fonts that are considered to be an alternative for paid fonts, and about the monetary value they represent if paid fonts would have been used instead of these free fonts, say $Y. (This amount should only contain font use, users would be willing to pay for, if a free font alternative wouldn’t be available.) Then calculate this: $Y / ($X + $Y). The result of this calculation would be the percentage of lost revenue in the font market in that year, caused by free fonts. If this percentage is available for a number of consecutive years, possible changes of this percentage will be known, and a trend might be visible. I am not sure if such calculations can be done for real—but if anyone has the resources to gather these data and do these calculations, please do so.

  • Adam TwardochAdam Twardoch Posts: 397
    edited November 2017
    In short: I think people are free to beware the Behemoth if they feel that this is something they need to do. But I don't think Google Fonts, or the overall libre font movement, or IBM Plex, are the Behemoth. They’re more like Cuba than like the Soviet Union (and that in a world where there is no Soviet Union), if you so will. :D 
  • I was waiting for the comparisons to communism ;) Reminds me of this from when I was a kid:
  • Sure thing it’s communism, but the version with rum, rumba and cigars rather than the one with gulags. 

  • And how can one legitimately prevent amateurs from designing fonts for themselves or giving them away for free?

    I think this point is critical, and I see it as two points wrapped up together: one cannot practically prevent amateurs from designing fonts for themselves or giving them away for free, and one cannot legitimately attempt to.

    Put another way, it's impossible and it would be wrong to try.

    This is the story of all technology in history. Technology comes in (roughly) two forms:  that which saves labor and that which does tasks better than was previously possible. (Some does both, but for the most part any that does neither gets lost to history.)

    You save labor, you lose jobs. This is unavoidable. In the long scale, that frees people to do something they enjoy more or at least hate less. New jobs are invented and people get to do things that were never practical, just so long as they can show someone else that they want that thing done. Is it more complicated than that? Of course.

    As technology progresses, older technology comes into the hands of more and more people. Intellectual property moves into the public domain. This is a feature, not a bug. Nowadays ordinary people can create amazing technological marvels with a $10 Arduino and programming skills inadequate for an entry-level development job. If you write a novel, you can self-publish with very little capital.

    Yeah, old business models won't continue to work. And yes, it's inevitable. As long as some people want to do more themselves and other people want to invent new ways to do things markets will force changes on professionals. And the next generations will live better than previous ones. (Politicians may whinge about people on welfare having widescreen TVs, but you can get 40" widescreen HDTVs for free on Craigslist if you're patient. When I was born, discovering any malignant tumor was a death sentence. Now cancer survivors are a real thing. Whatever setbacks there also are, it's hard to argue that quality of life isn't improving overall.)
  • Yes, of course. We all know that making free fonts kills people.
    Making fonts unwisely can kill culture.
    Making music unwisely can also kill culture. Damn you, Penderecki. 
  • Sure thing it’s communism, but the version with rum, rumba and cigars rather than the one with gulags. 
    Isn't it more like the world-historical one, that hasn't arrived yet, without wages labour, money, or the police state?
  • I don't think there's any reasonable or rational question about whether libre fonts reduce the market for retail fonts. The question is, how much? I can tell that Adam’s take is that the impact is lower than I would guess. But I don’t think it's a huge effect, and I also think it is being obscured by other big changes in the font market.

    And when looking at the revenue change, one should also consider the money paid to the people producing the libre fonts—I for one don’t care about the retail font market itself, I care about people’s ability to make a living, whether they are paid from retail sales or as commissioned work is not such a big deal to me.

    I also care about the quality of fonts. And while libre fonts certainly lag retail fonts in this area, I am mindful of the fact that Google and others continue to improve the library of libre fonts out there. The quality isn’t going to change overnight, but those who discount free fonts as mostly crap, or far behind, ought to keep their eyes open.
  • Dave CrosslandDave Crossland Posts: 958
    edited November 2017
    Quality is an interesting concept... For me personally, fonts that are under restricted licenses have a brittle quality to them. They may be fine, but as soon as I want to do something that they can't do, they shatter.

    I am reminded of https://media.libreplanet.org/u/libby/m/mako/ 
  • Kind of like a crystal goblet vs a Play-Doh mug? 
  • Hrant H. PapazianHrant H. Papazian Posts: 1,086
    edited November 2017
    Adam Twardoch said:
    Of course one might stipulate that if it weren't for the free fonts, the market of paid fonts would grow even more. But it's difficult to prove.
    Exactly. So let's stick to common sense: virtually everybody likes to save money; and most people have trouble telling apart TNR and Georgia. Now work from there.
    Steven Scotten said:
    I suspect the people at IBM behind this decision think that the "virtue signalling" of a libre license has greater benefit to them with their customers (and the communities that contribute to the software they make their money from) than the risk of being confused with some startup that uses their font.
    Most definitely. Because IBM is not a font foundry. Although foundries who play along are certainly reminiscent of corporations obsessed with next year's annual report...
    Dave Crossland said:
    What happened to capitalism?
    Uh, it likes to subvert culture for the material gain of a tiny minority?
    Dave Crossland said:
    Quality is an interesting concept... For me personally, fonts that are under restricted licenses have a brittle quality to them. They may be fine, but as soon as I want to do something that they can't do, they shatter.
    Delicacy has a beauty all its own.
    Adam Twardoch said:
    Making music unwisely can also kill culture. Damn you, Penderecki. 
    Fighting for one's threatened culture, and thereby fighting for the diversity of humanity, is not something to laugh away. I fight to tame the form of the Armenian «հ» that looks exactly like the Latin "h", because culture depends on authenticity just as much as it depends on cross-pollination.

    --

    Nothing is inevitable. It's a constant struggle. The more you can handle that the more you're fit to be a maker, versus a consumer. And we need to always keep in mind that what some people have as personal objectives are more useful to other people, to society than what some other people have as objectives. We are not merely animals foraging for our next meal, even though that's what our prospective owners want of us.
  • John SavardJohn Savard Posts: 174
    edited November 2017
    Exactly. So let's stick to common sense: virtually everybody likes to save money; and most people have trouble telling apart TNR and Georgia. Now work from there.
    The conclusion to be drawn from the situation you cite is obvious.

    The market for paid fonts will largely evaporate once somebody makes a free clone of either Times, Century Expanded, or Baskerville, and then once that happens, additional free fonts will have little or no effect.

    Irony aside, that is sort of like what actually happened: Bitstream nuked the paid font market, but there has been no noticeable additional impact from Google Fonts.
  • The market for paid fonts will largely evaporate ....
    Nothing ever completely goes away. It's a push & pull... with most people being spectators.
  • You can have faith in humanity (I do) but you can't claim specific benefits concerning specific developments.
    http://www.bbc.com/news/world-us-canada-42170100
  • Ray LarabieRay Larabie Posts: 763
    edited November 2017
     @Hrant H. Papazian
    I spilled apple juice on the floor and didn't clean it up. The next day, I noticed that it had largely evaporated. After a week of walking around with sticky socks, I thought to myself "nothing ever completely goes away."

    Robots are taking jobs away but also consider this angle: work sucks.
  • @Ray Larabie Actually science seems to evince that the worst thing for one's health is retirement. The trick is to find a good boss (not easy). Or be your own good boss (also not easy).

  • Robots are taking jobs away but also consider this angle: work sucks.
    That's the spirit, comrade :) 
  • I downloaded the IBM Plex Fonts from Github but I cannot open them in FontCreator. The font is not valid as the head table is missing.
  • I don't see it missing. Where did you get the files from?
    $ wget https://github.com/IBM/plex/releases/download/v1.0.1/TrueType.zip
    $ unzip TrueType.zip
    $ ttx -s TrueType/IBM-Plex-Sans/IBMPlexSans-Regular.ttf
    Dumping "IBMPlexSans-Regular.ttf" to "IBMPlexSans-Regular.ttx"...
    Dumping 'GlyphOrder' table...
    Dumping 'head' table...
    ...
  • Bhikkhu PesalaBhikkhu Pesala Posts: 156
    edited March 16
    I provided the link in my previous post: 

    https://github.com/IBM/plex/tree/master/IBM-Plex-Serif/fonts/complete/otf

    The fonts in the Zip archive that you linked to are fine.
  • Bhikkhu PesalaBhikkhu Pesala Posts: 156
    edited March 16
    The problem is with my browser. The latest Vivaldi Snapshot is not getting the whole file for some reason. Downloading with Edge apparently works OK. 

    I found out that one has to open each link first, then click on download, which seems like a bad web page design. 

  • I found out that one has to open each link first, then click on download, which seems like a bad web page design. 
    At least it says "download", it used to say "raw" which was horrible 
  • Marc OxborrowMarc Oxborrow Posts: 100
    The bold weight of Plex Serif is missing from Google Fonts.

  • Michel BoyerMichel Boyer Posts: 107
    edited March 17
    If you follow the link https://github.com/IBM/plex you get a download button for everything, including sources. Here is the number of files of each type
      16	eot
       6	fea
    4992	glif
      16	otf
      36	plist
      16	ttf
      32	vfb
      96	woff
      96	woff2
    
  • Michel BoyerMichel Boyer Posts: 107
    edited March 17
    Sorry, my count was incorrect. If I execute the command 
    find . -type f | sed 's/^.*\.//' | sort | uniq -c
    in the plex-master folder I get the following output
       8	designspace
       1	editorconfig
      64	eot
      24	fea
       1	gitignore
    19062	glif
       5	js
       1	json
       1	md
       1	npmignore
      64	otf
     132	plist
       1	prettierignore
       1	py
      64	ttf
       1	txt
     128	vfb
     368	woff
     368	woff2

    and there appears to be no duplicates. For instance the 64 ttf files are

    IBMPlexMono-Bold.ttf
    IBMPlexMono-BoldItalic.ttf
    IBMPlexMono-ExtraLight.ttf
    IBMPlexMono-ExtraLightItalic.ttf
    IBMPlexMono-Italic.ttf
    IBMPlexMono-Light.ttf
    IBMPlexMono-LightItalic.ttf
    IBMPlexMono-Medium.ttf
    IBMPlexMono-MediumItalic.ttf
    IBMPlexMono-Regular.ttf
    IBMPlexMono-SemiBold.ttf
    IBMPlexMono-SemiBoldItalic.ttf
    IBMPlexMono-Text.ttf
    IBMPlexMono-TextItalic.ttf
    IBMPlexMono-Thin.ttf
    IBMPlexMono-ThinItalic.ttf
    IBMPlexSans-Bold.ttf
    IBMPlexSans-BoldItalic.ttf
    IBMPlexSans-ExtraLight.ttf
    IBMPlexSans-ExtraLightItalic.ttf
    IBMPlexSans-Italic.ttf
    IBMPlexSans-Light.ttf
    IBMPlexSans-LightItalic.ttf
    IBMPlexSans-Medium.ttf
    IBMPlexSans-MediumItalic.ttf
    IBMPlexSans-Regular.ttf
    IBMPlexSans-SemiBold.ttf
    IBMPlexSans-SemiBoldItalic.ttf
    IBMPlexSans-Text.ttf
    IBMPlexSans-TextItalic.ttf
    IBMPlexSans-Thin.ttf
    IBMPlexSans-ThinItalic.ttf
    IBMPlexSansCondensed-Bold.ttf
    IBMPlexSansCondensed-BoldItalic.ttf
    IBMPlexSansCondensed-ExtraLight.ttf
    IBMPlexSansCondensed-ExtraLightItalic.ttf
    IBMPlexSansCondensed-Italic.ttf
    IBMPlexSansCondensed-Light.ttf
    IBMPlexSansCondensed-LightItalic.ttf
    IBMPlexSansCondensed-Medium.ttf
    IBMPlexSansCondensed-MediumItalic.ttf
    IBMPlexSansCondensed-Regular.ttf
    IBMPlexSansCondensed-SemiBold.ttf
    IBMPlexSansCondensed-SemiBoldItalic.ttf
    IBMPlexSansCondensed-Text.ttf
    IBMPlexSansCondensed-TextItalic.ttf
    IBMPlexSansCondensed-Thin.ttf
    IBMPlexSansCondensed-ThinItalic.ttf
    IBMPlexSerif-Bold.ttf
    IBMPlexSerif-BoldItalic.ttf
    IBMPlexSerif-ExtraLight.ttf
    IBMPlexSerif-ExtraLightItalic.ttf
    IBMPlexSerif-Italic.ttf
    IBMPlexSerif-Light.ttf
    IBMPlexSerif-LightItalic.ttf
    IBMPlexSerif-Medium.ttf
    IBMPlexSerif-MediumItalic.ttf
    IBMPlexSerif-Regular.ttf
    IBMPlexSerif-SemiBold.ttf
    IBMPlexSerif-SemiBoldItalic.ttf
    IBMPlexSerif-Text.ttf
    IBMPlexSerif-TextItalic.ttf
    IBMPlexSerif-Thin.ttf
    IBMPlexSerif-ThinItalic.ttf
    


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