Plex; IBM's new font identity model

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  • Hrant H. PapazianHrant H. Papazian Posts: 1,621
    edited November 2017
    @Johannes Neumeier I've heard this line of reasoning before. It's tempting, but in the end it sacrifices not only particular fonts, but the power of type itself. Also, I don't believe in There Is No Bad Publicity.
  • I'm not aware of the last 3; good to know :)

    However I can't find anything on the https://www.google.com/search?q=Palazzo+Chigi+font

    I also see that while http://leeds2023.co.uk/?s=font has nothing, https://www.creativereview.co.uk/work/work-leeds-2023-identity-lee-goater-dalton-maag-hungry-sandwich-club/ says it will be "open source in January 2017" - but I can't find it yet... 
  • Dave CrosslandDave Crossland Posts: 1,052
    edited November 2017
    It seems the Leeds font never made it out to the world

    Hrant, sometimes brands use extant libre fonts for themselves, which is the case there. It's an academic project, not a brand commission released under a libre license.
  • Hrant H. PapazianHrant H. Papazian Posts: 1,621
    edited November 2017
    It seems the Leeds font never made it out to the world
    Let me ask DM what the deal is.

    Grabbing a libre font for an ID isn't ideal in my book, but is a far lesser sin than actually commissioning one for ID for chrissake.

  • Grabbing a libre font for an ID isn't ideal in my book, but is a far lesser sin than actually commissioning one for ID for chrissake.
    So if an organization is going to choose a libre font for branding, it's better to use an existing typeface than pay a type designer/firm to create one? Remind me how the latter devalues type?
  • Hrant H. PapazianHrant H. Papazian Posts: 1,621
    edited November 2017
    @Marc Oxborrow
    If you're going to shoot yourself in the foot, borrow a gun, don't go out and buy one.

    Treating type like bead necklaces to be flung from a parade float, as opposed to a treasured part of creating an identity devalues type, and its makers.
  • I’d like to commend all of the designers and developers of this font for a bunch of stuff, but raising the corporate bar to include serifs, is all that’s possible under the circumstances. Thanks!
  • Nick ShinnNick Shinn Posts: 1,532
    A big IBM insert in today’s Globe and Mail.

    I note that the word “IBM” in Plex Sans, featuring a serifed I, evokes the slab-serifed “I” of the company’s logo. 

  • Hrant, I already contacted DM who didn't know about this, and then Lee Goater, the project designer, and they said that the client bottled out of sharing it for now, but will consider it at a later stage in the project. 
  • If Plex is open source, where can we find the source files? ;)
  • George ThomasGeorge Thomas Posts: 532
    edited November 2017
    https://github.com/IBM/type
    Also at fontsquirrel and myfonts.
  • Jens KutilekJens Kutilek Posts: 247
    edited November 2017
    There are just the final font files, no editable source files. But thanks to your Github link I just saw that Adam already asked that question and got a promising answer.
  • Hrant H. PapazianHrant H. Papazian Posts: 1,621
    edited November 2017
    {Duplicate}
  • Hrant H. PapazianHrant H. Papazian Posts: 1,621
    edited November 2017
    If Plex is open source, where can we find the source files? ;)
    I guess there's a difference here between "open source" and "libre"? Because AFAIK @Dave Crossland for one disagrees that the latter means all the sources must be public. BTW some people claim that for it to be open-source all the software used to make it must also be open...
  • Hrant H. PapazianHrant H. Papazian Posts: 1,621
    edited November 2017
    the client bottled out of sharing it for now, but will consider it at a later stage in the project. 
    Awesome news. I will hold out hope for the others, and any other confused clients of the future.
  • If Plex is open source, where can we find the source files? ;)
    I guess there's a difference here between "open source" and "libre"? Because AFAIK @Dave Crossland for one disagrees that the latter means all the sources must be public. BTW some people claim that for it to be open-source all the software used to make it must also be open...
    I know there’s a difference (or at least that evangelists keep insisting that there is one), but on the IBM GitHub page it says "open source" right there.
  • Curious, why do the sources have an exclusivity period?
  • If Plex is open source, where can we find the source files? ;)
    I guess there's a difference here between "open source" and "libre"? Because AFAIK @Dave Crossland for one disagrees that the latter means all the sources must be public. BTW some people claim that for it to be open-source all the software used to make it must also be open...
    There are various ways to determine if a thing is legitimately part of a category. 

    Necessarily there is an authority that legitimizes; some people like to rely only on themselves, or their own organizations, but in the software freedom movement the typical authority that determines the more abstract definition of "what is free software" and the more concrete definition of "which licenses make software so-licensed free software" is the Free Software Foundation. Libre is merely a less ambiguous synonym for free. 

    The Debian Free Software Guidelines, and the licenses used by packages in the Debian "main" repositories, is another popular one. 

    For open source software, which for practical purposes is the same thing as free/libre software, the authority is the Open Source Initiative, Wich also provides their abstract and concrete definition and license list.

    The SIL Open Font License is on all 3 lists. 

    Some free/libre/open-source licenses like the GNU GPL v3 require that "complete corresponding source" be available to everyone who gets a copy in binary form. Some do not - like MIT, Apache, and importantly for us here the SIL Open Font License. 

    The definition of both fsf and osi states sources must be available; it's literally in the name "open source." It's also a requirement for new additions to the Google Fonts collection. But the OFL doesn't require it. 

    Why is that?

    I can't speak for the authors of the OFL, but it seems to me that if a user obtains a font binary under the OFL, they can pretty easily load it into their font editor and carry on. Whereas with software, that's not the case; dealing with binary programs is gnarly work in gdb or IDA Pro or whatever, although it can be done is a much longer road than for a font. 

    So I guess that's why the OFL makes a trade-off, giving up source provision requirements and gaining simplicity, which I believe is much more important for adoption of the license. 

    The GNU GPL also requires source to be in a public format so that it can be read by libre software. Personally I'd say UFO and Glyphsapp qualify, VFB does not. But again the OFL doesn't have that requirement, and afaik the free software and open source definition documents don't either, although I'm just rattling this off on my phone offline on the subway and didn't check.

    The Ubuntu fonts are licensed under the Ubuntu Fonts License, and that isn't on any of the lists, but I seem to recall that the source files are available... but in VFB.
  • BTW, I don't think there is a conceptual requirement that opensource software has to be built using an opensource toolchain. For example there are many opensource software projects for Mac OS X or Windows that require the entirety of XCode or Visual Studio to build — and neither of these toolchains is opensource. 

    Even with fonts, not every opensource font can be built using purely opensource tools (e.g. if it includes VTT hinting commands or VOLT layout data). Of  course when Adobe opensourced most of AFDKO, that was a big step towards that ability. 

    I agree with Paul that preparing font sources in a way that can be built by other people (regardless of what toolchain) is a lot of work. 
  • I wonder if promoting the font as open source is misleading. Why not say the font is free to use and modify under the SIL, and that the intent is to open source it within the next 13 months? Alternately set a lower bar for the sources, and publish the Glyphs sources.
  • Dave Crossland said:
    The Ubuntu fonts are licensed under the Ubuntu Fonts License, and that isn't on any of the lists, but I seem to recall that the source files are available... but in VFB.
    For the record, the sources were converted to UFO, an open format, a couple of years ago, and are on GitHub.
  • Dave CrosslandDave Crossland Posts: 1,052
    edited November 2017
    Jens, you are right in that it's annoying and has some labor costs to reverse a binary font back into sources. But it's possible to start with the binaries and work back, whereas trying to reverse engineer assembled binaries back into c++ is extremely hard and it's better to just start from scratch. 

    Here's a practical example:

    Over the years I've heard from some large corporate identity departments who want, for example, legibility alternates added to popular libre fonts as stylistic sets. Stuff like a tail on the l, serifs on I and 1, single story a and g. You can easily take a set of TTF binaries and make derivatives with those additions without reverse engineering full source files. 

    If InDesign or Glyphsapp or Robofont or any other non-libre program doesn't have some feature, and its API doesn't allow you to write an extension that can meet your requirements, you can't easily reverse engineering the program binary to extend the API and solve your problem. Even if it's trivial to do with access to the complete source code. 

    That's the difference.
  • Hrant H. PapazianHrant H. Papazian Posts: 1,621
    edited November 2017
    https://thenextweb.com/dd/2017/11/24/ia-writers-new-duospaced-font-is-great-for-drafts-and-its-free/
    Consider the only party that benefits here (a corporation) and the only party that loses out (type designers). To those who collaborated: mind the costs of making money...
  • And free to use for any budding rival of IBM...
    I think "budding" and "rival of IBM" might be mutually exclusive terms. :)
  • https://thenextweb.com/dd/2017/11/24/ia-writers-new-duospaced-font-is-great-for-drafts-and-its-free/
    Consider the only party that benefits here (a corporation) and the only party that loses out (type designers). To those who collaborated: mind the costs of making money...
    Why is iA the only beneficiary here? We - everyone online - can download, use, share, and further modify their version. Everyone is benefitting.

    Why did type designers lose?
  • Ben BlomBen Blom Posts: 246
    edited November 2017
    Why did type designers lose?

    It’s the same as with Google Fonts and other big free font schemes.

    The bigger (in relative terms) the market of good quality free fonts becomes, the smaller (in relative terms) the market of good quality paid fonts becomes. It may not be a zero sum game—but the more good quality fonts become available for free, the less people are willing to pay for good quality fonts.

    So type designers who are dependent for their income on the market of good quality paid fonts, will loose out by the increased availability of good quality free fonts.

    The only way to prevent this to happen, is for type designers to show solidarity with their fellow type designers—i.e. not to collaborate with the creation of good quality free fonts. Therefore, it is in the long-term interest of all serious type designers, not to collaborate with any big free font scheme. So, fellow type designers: please don’t shit in your own nest.

    So indeed:
    To those who collaborated [by creating good quality free fonts]: mind the costs of making money.

    The short-term profit of a few, may cause the long-term loss of many.

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