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[OTVar] Photoshop VF support
edited November 2017
Nice to see that it really is coming to the desktop. Hopefully we’ll see it in more applications than Photoshop. Illustrator and XD at the least should get support since they’re popular with web designers. And hopefully Indesign will be supported for all the typophiles in the design field.
edited October 2017
I think it's easiest for Adobe to add pioneer font functionality into Photoshop (not just variable fonts but also the already-supported OpenType+SVG color fonts) because the final output format of Photoshop is pretty much always a bitmap image, so at some point type gets rasterized into pixels — so in a way, it doesn't really matter where it comes from.
InDesign and Illustrator are different since their primary output formats and their data interchange are more complex.
In Illustrator, you can copy and paste graphics using several clipboard formats that may reference fonts by their name: AICB, SVG and PDF. You can also open and export files in such formats.
The engineers need to make decisions what to do if the user chooses some variable font with a custom instance, then exports the file without font embedding (if embedding is on, but still decisions need to be made and code written that converts variable fonts into single-instance fonts that can be embedded). Without embedding, it's more complicated — how should a custom instance be referenced inside an SVG or EPS or PDF so that, when the file is opened again in the app, the various text portions use the same custom instances as originally specified?
With InDesign, the problems are of different nature: InDesign exports PDFs but also HTML-based e-Pub documents and resources for Adobe Flash. It also interfaces with InCopy and allows text interchange using RTF and InDesign Tagged Text. Variable fonts may be supported inside the app but engineers need to take care of situations when fonts are embedded into PDFs or e-Pubs or references to fonts are written into formats like InDesign Tagged Text. If certain formats don't support variable fonts, appropriate warnings may need to be implemented.
InDesign also has more advanced text layout capabilities so one might expect that depending on the chosen text size, a different instances along the "opsz" variable axis might be selected, or a different "wdth" instance might be used instead of the horizontal glyph scaling when doing full justification — but the widths of optical sizes and the width axis may not scale linearly, so certain internal logic may need to be rewritten.
Finally, both Illustrator and InDesign are expected to export standard-compliant PDFs that will work correctly on various print platforms. Making sure that embedded static fonts created automatically out of variable fonts (or out of OpenType+SVG fonts for example) are also standards-compliant is not an easy task. With color fonts, you have the additional complication of color management.
All this can be solved bit it's definitely more complex than in Photoshop, which primarily outputs pixels.
Thanks for that explanation, Adam.
On top of all that, Photoshop is simply Adobe’s strongest brand (even a layman understands what "this picture was photoshopped" means) and most popular product.
While Adobe itself doesn't publish any stats, the number of shares on popular pirate sites suggest that Photoshop is just as popular as Microsoft Office, and outperforms 3-to-1 or more other popular Adobe apps: Acrobat, Premiere and Illustrator. InDesign is by far less popular on pirate sites
My guess is that it's similar with Creative Cloud app usage.
There are apps from other vendors that are strong contenders to replace Photoshop — Affinity Photo, Pixelmator and some other for photography, apps like Sketch and some others for web and app UI prototyping. So Adobe is pressured to make Photoshop attractive.
InDesign hardly has competition, and Illustrator still has the string advantage of being able to "open any PDF". And obviously the markets for these apps are much smaller than for Photoshop. They shrunk in recent years since, for example, content creation for long documents is done these days through completely different channels (more increasingly, the web).
But Photoshop is still in the lead. The contenders are pushing but Adobe still has good chances to maintain the domination of its most-known asset. I think the improved font support we’re seeing in the recent years in Photoshop is a realization of this.
Illustrator is one of the worse applications to open a pdf with. It doesn't release the multitude of clipping masks inherent in a pdf, it flattens multilayer pdfs to a single layer, and the list goes on.
But I do agree with all the PS stuff.
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