And which are the more interesting/innovative things they offer?
I am thinking both in terms of function, but also of inherent strength of design/products.
As a side question, which are in your opinion the most effectively designed PDF specimens? Especially in terms of clearness, economy of means, format, etc.
Thanks everyone in advance for your opinions!
I guess you'll have to ask font *users*... :-)
That said, I'm a big fan of Velvetyne, OhNo, Mass-Driver, Undercase, and Polytype, to just name a few.
About accomplishments, FontFabric has constantly been in the top 20 best sellers of MyFonts, with not one but with multiple font families, surpassing well-established classics like Futura, Helvetica, and so on. This is pretty much a smashing success in my books. On the aesthetics I can't comment, but obviously ours sell and influence a ton of other designers, which influence others after them. All I know is that my Cyrillics of Gagalin, Bernier, Bukhari, Nickainley and a few others are present in every single city around the globe, on bilboards, planes, devices and whatnot. I just don't like to brag if not specifically asked.
They don't need me to talk for them. I respect each and every one of them.
I find printed specimens essential for evaluating typefaces, and I appreciate a thoughtfully produced specimen, whether presented as a PDF or published as a chapbook or broadside. For any type designers who may have wondered whether people who purchase type really look at those meticulously wordsmithed and typeset thirty-page or sixty-page specimens, YES, we do. Or at least, I do. When deciding between possible faces for a project, I will often print out an entire specimen document, put it in a three-ring binder, and study it closely, comparing it with the specimens for competing fonts.
I deliberately acquire books of collected specimens, like the Yearbook of Type volumes (the book design is annoying but the specimens are invaluable) in order to try to stay current in my knowledge of contemporary type design. I also value the little chapbook specimens that are issued by some foundries, and periodically acquire those as well. In addition to being utilitarian tools, specimens are, of course, delightful viewing — they are the sign of a craftsperson who is proud of her/his work and sometimes a window into an unknown typographic paradigm or milieu.
There have been many PDF specimens that I enjoyed and studied carefully. One of the first that I remember being struck by was the Gentium specimen, issued maybe fifteen years ago. I do not think it would seem exceptional now, but it was one of the first digital specimens I remember seeing that set out to really explain the typeface — its origins, its development, its designer's thought process, its special features. I like reading about a face, not only looking at it. Some specimens, like that for Brioso, are exuberant celebrations of their faces, and that is good too.
Probably the most important feature for me in a specimen is that it is printable. I don't have a lot of use for the live-editable text on foundry websites, unless I am auditioning display faces and only need to see a certain word or phrase. And I don't have a lot of use for "microsites" with elaborate demonstrations of fictional use cases. I mostly design for print, and I want to see my type printed. Even if I am selecting type for a web project, I find a PDF specimen to be the most helpful reference.
For designers who are making specimens for text faces, please include at least one page that looks something like a page from a novel — just a solid block of text, at a reasonable measure. This is usually the one type of use that I am most interested in seeing, and sometimes it is missing.
Still waiting for the Eye feature and the Microsoft commission!
Actually my intent was to focus on the smaller foundries, be them more old or relatively new, and underline specific typefaces which brought or have potential for innovation and are original. The PDF inquiry was because I wish to design sober PDFs effectively conveying the essential technical information, very likely at least in English and Italian.
No one listed anything except Joshua Langman, and so far no one replied to my request to underline the more interesting/innovative/functional designs. Everyone is invited to do so.