Releasing variable fonts alongside static fonts

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  • George ThomasGeorge Thomas Posts: 527
    edited December 2019
    @Thomas Phinney -- Understood. My example was concerning standardizing VF instead of Variable. Itwasn't the best choice and I should have mentioned length of the name instead.
    How about a new font named Variable Variable?  :)

  • Adam JagoszAdam Jagosz Posts: 603
    edited December 2019
    Given that much of the font name is usually taken up by the style name, I thought Variable would be an adequate replacement of it. As in:
    • Acme Foobar New Variable
    being the variable version of all of these:
    • Acme Foobar New Condensed Light
    • Acme Foobar New Condensed Regular
    • Acme Foobar New Condensed Bold
    • Acme Foobar New Condensed Extra Bold
    • Acme Foobar New Light
    • Acme Foobar New Regular
    • Acme Foobar New Bold
    • Acme Foobar New Extra Bold
    • Acme Foobar New Extended Light
    • Acme Foobar New Extended Regular
    • Acme Foobar New Extended Bold
    • Acme Foobar New Extended Extra Bold
    In this context, does Variable still appear so freakishly long? It's longer than VF by 6 characters, but I find it so much more obvious and readable to the less-savvy end user (or a tiny bit more readable, if they don't even know what a variable font is).
    Edit: I kind of missed the point, since we're talking about including VF or Variable in the family name, not style name. But I still think family names themselves should be short and snappy, and Variable would be just part of the problem.
    When come to think of it, VF is actually still too long, since the F is obvious. Why not just V? Especially in the file name, XYZ-V.ttf, right?
  • Rafael SaraivaRafael Saraiva Posts: 20
    edited December 2019
    I think that VF reads great, it is short and self explanatory. But since there is no rule set in stone (yet) you can feel free to choose what suits you best. Short and quick summary from AxisPraxis specimens list (some of them quite old already)

    Bold Monday
    Font family Name: IBM Plex Sans Var
    File Name: IBMPlexSansVar-Italic.ttf

    Monotype
    Font family Name: Avenir Next Variable
    File Name: AvenirNext_Variable.ttf

    Type-together
    Font family Name: Portada Variable Upright
    File Name: Portada_Variable-Upright.ttf

    Paratype
    Font family Name: DIN 2014 Stencil VF Demo
    File Name: DIN2014StencilVFDemoGX.ttf

    Dalton Maag
    Font Family name: Venn VF
    File Name: VennVF.ttf
  • Adam JagoszAdam Jagosz Posts: 603
    edited December 2019
    > DIN2014StencilVFDemoGX.ttf
    Cool! I mean, hideous.
    VF is self-explanatory to type designers, but is it that obvious to an average graphic designer? Then again, there isn't many things it might be mistaken for, and since it does have the other virtues, maybe it's worth spreading indeed.
    BTW VF reminds me of the Polish counterpart of PE (physical education), WF, which I wasn't that fond of. Maybe hence my aversion :D
  • Yes, “Variable” is more obvious. But then again, if everybody is using “VF” it will not take any new designer long to figure out that VF is an abbreviation for Variable Font. Seeing as they probably have a clue already as to what some variable fonts are.

    Doing a search on “VF font” gives largely the expected results. So that’s another way to figure it out.
  • "Variable" is of course literal, but it could also be part of the fantasy name of a typeface, so I’d favor "VF" as well as acronyms tend to be more technical and people would see what they mean.
    They have been used for type foundries for many years, in the end I prefer them to avoid confusion (BTW, personally I am going to use two-digit names for optical masters as well).
  • Adam JagoszAdam Jagosz Posts: 603
    edited December 2019
    OK, VF FTW!
  • My text versions will be named TX.  B)
  • I propose a new term for traditional static fonts: Fixie.

    The term is already in use for fixed-gear bicycles and I believe it is intuitive and has the right ring to it.  B)
  • FWIW: Appending "VF" or "Variable" to the family name could be problematic for customers: e.g. I have a variable font and author a doc then send it to you, who has the static fonts - if "VF" is in the family name, them my doc will not render correctly on your machine. But, if the variable font had the same family name, then the doc would render fine. 

    So, I ususally recommend keeping the family names the same in VF and static for that reason. That's the convention we're following here at Microsoft (looks like Google Fonts is doing the same, above). It does mean that you can't have them both installed at the same time, and thus, if you have the VF installed you can't use it in apps that don't use the OS for font enumeration (e.g. InDesign). It's a tradeoff - short term compatibility for VF-unaware apps vs document fidelity and long term migration to VF.

    That said, I can see the reverse tradeoff might be better for some; it's just worth being aware of the document sharing issue that adding "VF" can cause.
    I see the rationale, but why should have the same name? It’s not the same, and if someone used instances in a document that are not present as static ones in the destination user computer, wouldn’t this cause problems?
    Most users are hardly educated about this, two different naming strategies still seem less confusionary to me.

  • So, I usually recommend keeping the family names the same in VF and static for that reason. 
    Ouch. I understand the rationale, but releasing two radically different versions of a font with completely different functionality, that show up the same in a font menu ... that bothers me. I want to be able to tell them apart, and if I want compatibility with both, I install both.
  • If we could “guarantee” that the static font renders* the same as the variable font (I don't mean just pixels), then keeping the same name might be fine.

    But I actually hate it — I’m working on different apps, some support VFs well, some don’t, so I want both static and variable fonts installed. I actually tweaked the variable version of Work Sans by adding a suffix, so I can use it alongside the static fonts, because the VF doesn’t work well everywhere.

    When going from Type 1 to OpenType, some vendors tried keeping the same names, but in the end Adobe, Linotype, Monotype, FontFont and most other vendors adopted a suffix, because the “same-name-different-format” thing caused more trouble to end-users than it helped solve problems. 
  • Adam TwardochAdam Twardoch Posts: 449
    edited January 9
    In my experience working with font retailers, having several fonts installed that have the same menu name but come in different formats has been one of the most common tech support issues. This was mainly for TrueType- and PostScript-flavored OpenType. Sure, help docs that came with the font often said “don’t install both versions on the same machine”. But that didn’t stop thousands of users from doing so. :) 
  • Dave CrosslandDave Crossland Posts: 1,051
    Installing fonts is deprecated by font APIs ;P
  • I agree that “installing fonts” is an antiquated concept, especially since it doesn’t, in any way, include mechanisms for updating the fonts. 
  • Dave CrosslandDave Crossland Posts: 1,051
    I encourage everyone to look very closely at https://type.world
  • How does that address this thread's initial question?
  • Dave CrosslandDave Crossland Posts: 1,051
    A Type World manager feature could be to sort this kind of thing out
  • Adam JagoszAdam Jagosz Posts: 603
    Would it rename clashing fonts on the fly? Curious.
  • Would it rename clashing fonts on the fly? Curious.
    That would have been my question.  :)
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