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Simon Cozens

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Simon Cozens
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  • Re: Naming font modifications

    This may be a bit pie-in-the-sky, but I wonder if all this discussion is a symptom of a broader problem about updating and revising fonts. And a related issue is that the difficulty of updating and revising fonts leads to a situation where fonts do take ages to develop and release because this can't be done iteratively and bug fixes can't be easily fielded.

    Let's imagine a situation where, when you install a font, the OS's font manger checks to see if the font is already installed. If it isn't already installed, no problem. If it is already installed, it compares the glyph outlines, coverage and metrics with the previously installed font, and makes the following determinations:
    • Is the new font a superset of the old? Does it merely add new glyphs, without changing existing ones?
    • Does it change the metrics of existing glyphs or global font metrics? If so, warn the user that this could cause document reflow.
    • Does it change the outlines of existing glyphs? If so, warn the user that the font will be visually incompatible.
    Having determined the nature of the update, you can now offer the user a choice:
    • Cancel the install
    • Overwrite the old font
    • Rename the old font
    • Rewrite the name of the new font to add a custom suffix. ("FooFont for SomeClient Project 2017-05")
    We are far from that situation at the moment but it's technically possible; wouldn't it fix most of these issues?
  • Re: [OTVar] Suggestion to record in the font whether an axis affects metrics or not

    I'm not convinced that this is even that useful from a rendering software perspective. If the font changes, you have to update the display, and you will be doing some substantial work to erase the old text and lay out the new text. You may as well try laying out the whole paragraph anyway regardless of the value of the flag. If the text does reflow, it needed to reflow. If the text doesn't reflow, nobody notices because nothing has changed and you wasted a couple of milliseconds. Big deal.

    Rewriting your rendering app to read flags from the font and check them when replacing text is a bigger deal than what you'd save by skipping a useless reflow.
  • Re: [OTVar] Introducing OpenType variable fonts

    I don't think it's cynical, however, given the magnitude of the task, to assume it will take a long time to materialize.
    Can't see it any other way. 

    It's great that we're seeing support in font editors already, which is imperative for getting variable fonts out there, but it is indeed a huge task to make this happen down at the user level. Take an application like InDesign: you will need to implement it in the UI, have a renderer which supports it for display, have something which vectorizes it to PCL or PS for print, and you will also have to update the file format to store user choices about font variations. And a similar story for every single document-based file format; for instance, we're going to need a new PDF specification to handle this. (Not a hard job thinking about how PDF works, but new specifications, and then their implementation in readers, take time.)

    I can see that it is going to happen, but I can't imagine you'll be printing out documents with variable fonts for a few years yet.
  • Re: Kris Sowersby's "Welcome to the Infill Font Foundry"

    I think another analogy is the Japanese creative arts. The underlying philosophy is that creative perfection was reached in the distant past, and you learn the craft by copying the exemplars (kata) of the masters. Only when you have mastered the past are you allowed to put your own spin on what you have learnt. It leads to a fundamentally conservative design milieu.

    Anyway, I am absolutely calling my next font "Infill Sans".
  • Re: Type fiction

    I can't believe nobody's mentioned the travel supplement for the island of San Seriffe. I can only find the first page (PDF) of seven, but it's worth a look anyway.