Pro fonts with Cyrillic support

Adam LaddAdam Ladd Posts: 213
edited July 2017 in Type Business
I'm considering expanding one of my fonts to add additional Latin language support and Cyrillic support. The Latin language character adds would cover most Latin languages (I like using Underware's Latin Plus checker, and nearly all of these languages would be supported).

My question is about Cyrillic. I'm not very familiar with it and I know Glyphs app has the built-in "Basic" and "Adobe Extended" character sets. Do you think if I just include the Basic characters it would provide enough support for those using Cyrillic and justify the "Pro" tag with an increased price. Or do you think the Adobe Extended set would be necessary?

Thanks for your thoughts!


  • John HudsonJohn Hudson Posts: 2,161
    I've not closely examined the pre-defined sets in Glyphs, but I presume the following observations are likely to be the case:

    The basic set is probably based on 8-bit Cyrillic codepages that cover all the major Slavic languages using the script: Russian, Ukrainian, Bulgarian, Belarusian, Serbian, Macedonian. That's pretty standard coverage for a lot of Cyrillic fonts, and it makes for a nicely grouped set of languages defined by their linguistic categorisation and geography (all European).

    When he was at Adobe, Tom Phinney defined the extended set as a kind of 'low hanging fruit' selection to target some of the major non-European, non-Slavic languages using the Cyrillic script. It adds to the basic set a smallish subset of the Unicode Cyrillic characters not used for Slavic languages, mostly involving shapes that are fairly easy to derive from the basic shapes, so not constituting too much extra work for a type designer to support.

    My suggestion would be to start with the basic set, which you will need in any case, and once you have revised and refined your design for that set, then take a look at the extended set and see what will be involved in adding those characters.
  • Adam LaddAdam Ladd Posts: 213
    @John Hudson Thanks so much for your observations and advice, John, I really appreciate it! My limited observation was similar in that the basic set would be more easily created and the extended set more effort.

    The basic set is made up of 66 characters with a combining mark. The extended adds another 62 characters... so all in all, over 120 Cyrillic characters if both are implemented.

    From some of the other "Pro" fonts I've looked at out there that include Cyrillic in the glyph count, it seems this would qualify enough to sell it at a higher price (factoring in all the Latin languages as well...maybe 500 glyphs or so just for the Latin?) as an additional offering to the existing font options.

    I'd have to take a deeper dive into cross-referencing if there would be any key characters missing if only using these two pre-defined Cyrillic character sets, but I would assume it's relatively sufficient (as you stated about the major Slavic languages using Cyrillic).

    Here's a couple screenshots of the empty glyph cells for reference (Basic on top, Adobe Extended on bottom)...

  • I think it's a good idea if you follow Adobe Cyrillic Character Sets (Set 1, set 2, set 3). Meanwhile here Thomas Phinney explains the Adobe Extending Cyrillic. And, of course, you must be familiar with Alexei Vanyashin's definition for GF Cyrillic Core, Plus, Pro, Historical.

  • Adam LaddAdam Ladd Posts: 213
    Thank you for your suggestions and these references/links @Stefan Peev , truly appreciate it. Will take a look at all of them further. I had done some digging into the Adobe Cyrillic Sets for reference some, but need to spend more time with it. Still pretty green to Cyrillic overall, so this is all helpful.

  • @Adam Ladd You're well come for any questions about the Cyrillic script. Have a look at Local Fonts also. The site is dedicated to the Cyrillic script mostly. Over there you will find some wonderful instruments for testing your font – they are prepared by Pablo Impallari, Alexei Vanyashin and Huerta Typographica. Please, notice, that if you want to prepare not just an international Cyrillic, but the Cyrillic for particular Cyrillic languages (Bulgarian, Serbian, Macedonian at first place) you need to use local features in your font. The truly Serbian lower case „б“ for example is not in the Unicode standard. You need to write it as a local feature substitution of the international Cyrillic „б“. On the other hand, the modern Bulgarian Cyrillic script is very different from the international Cyrillic script. And it also need to be set as a local feature.
  • Adam LaddAdam Ladd Posts: 213
    @Stefan Peev that link is excellent to some helpful tools. Took a quick trip through and that Cyrill-o-pedia looks like it will be very useful. Appreciate the tips as well about some of the localization to watch for!

  • Ray LarabieRay Larabie Posts: 1,108
    Here's a chart of the Cyrillic set from 0450-04FF with, what I believe are rare glyphs* highlighted in white. For me, the darker characters are must haves in any typeface with Cyrillic support as they're in common use in living languages.

    * historical, scholarly, biblical transliteration and such.

  • Adam LaddAdam Ladd Posts: 213
    Awesome, thanks so much for this reference and notes @Ray Larabie !

  • Since you want to provide "Basic" and "Pro" versions of your font, the most important question is "who will pay extra for a font with more glyphs?"

    I doubt the market for fonts with Kildin Sami or Abkhaz alphabet support is a lucrative one. I personally would move Turkic and Old Cyrillic glyphs to the Pro font.

    Not providing Ukrainian, Serbian or Bulgarian support in the Basic font would offend the customers, but Tatarstan, Bashkortostan and Kazakhstan are rich and bilingual, so your customers can start using your font with Russian language support and buy the Pro version later.

    I don't think any other glyphs are valuable enough to justify the Pro price by themselves.
  • John HudsonJohn Hudson Posts: 2,161
    Yes, charging more for minority language support doesn't make sense, either in terms of justice or commerce. I think it is a valid decision to only support major languages with established or emerging markets, but if one is going to go beyond that and support minority language use, one should do so at no extra cost. And yes, this does inevitably mean making a commitment based on something other than return-on-investment basis. Sometimes, you can find a customer that will effectively sponsor such work, e.g. a specialist publisher that needs these characters, but this is rare.

    With regard to Cyrillic, if you decide to support a wider range of characters from the Unicode block, you definitely don't need to support Old Cyrillic if you're not making a specialist font for transcribing old manuscripts and religious books.
  • Adam LaddAdam Ladd Posts: 213
    edited July 2017
    Thanks All... good thoughts/feedback. The consideration of doing a "Pro" vs "Basic" offering came from a few factors I've been chewing on:

    a) The font as is has decent Latin language support, but no Cyrillic at all, and there is room to expand the Latin support. Expanding these obviously takes time (drawing, spacing/kerning, etc.), which equals cost.
    b) The current price has room to increase.
    c) There have been separate inquiries from clients asking about expanding the font to have that showed market potential to me.
    d) For lack of a better argument, I have seen this as practice in general from time to time (offering two versions with different price points for different market needs).

    This is in no way seeking to nickel/dime anyone, but seeking a fair value for the expanded and more robust offering for a font that already exists. If this were a new font being created, it could be reasoned to include most of this into it from the start and charge a single, relatively higher price. But that would need weighed out based on goals, as it might alienate a market segment that has a lower budget.
  • Kent LewKent Lew Posts: 905
    * historical, scholarly, biblical transliteration and such.

    Note that not all of the white glyphs in Ray’s image fall in these categories (depending upon how you define “and such” ;-). Some are required for additional, “living,” “minority” language support. (Kildin Saami or Khakass, for example.)

    See also this conversation:
  • Adam LaddAdam Ladd Posts: 213
    Thanks for the additional conversation link @Kent Lew
  • Ray LarabieRay Larabie Posts: 1,108
    @Kent Lew is correct. You have to choose where you draw the line on your own. You'll never find a guide that can say definitively whether or not a certain language should be in your repertoire.
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