Alternatives to Creative Suite for testing fonts.

I’m probably to cancel my Adobe Creative Suite subscription before my account renews for another year in June. I may cut back to a single application subscription for Indesign. But I don’t plan to do more non-Latin work, so I would like to drop Indesign, too. Those of you who don’t use Indesign for font proofing, what do you use?
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Comments

  • Simon CozensSimon Cozens Posts: 598
    If you use SILE, you can do non-Latin too. And it can be built into Glyphs! And Victor G is working on specimen-creation classes for it too. It's a bit of a learning curve and obviously I'm biased, but I think it's the best out there.
  • PabloImpallariPabloImpallari Posts: 552
    edited May 2016
    Those of you who don’t use Indesign for font proofing, what do you use?
    The Testing page! I print directly from the browser, both to paper and to pdf files.

    I use mostly the "Tools" ("Filter Text", "Better Adhesion", and "Spacing Grid") and "Latin 2" pages.

    Secret tips for the "Filter text" tool:
    - When working on text fonts: Set the size to 18px or lower, and you will get nice blocks at all text sizes at the same time.
    - When working on display fonts: Set the size to 200 and you get a small cascade, set it to 300px and you get a full cascade (Great for deciding on your font's spacing/fitting).
  • You could also use Drawbot.
  • Khaled HosnyKhaled Hosny Posts: 284
    If it is a text font, then I use browser(s) for proofing, and occupationally XeTeX or SILE. If it is a UI font, then I make it my default UI font until I’m done with it.
  • Richard FinkRichard Fink Posts: 165
    Those of you who don’t use Indesign for font proofing, what do you use?
    The Testing page! I print directly from the browser, both to paper and to pdf files.

    I use mostly the "Tools" ("Filter Text", "Better Adhesion", and "Spacing Grid") and "Latin 2" pages.

    Secret tips for the "Filter text" tool:
    - When working on text fonts: Set the size to 18px or lower, and you will get nice blocks at all text sizes at the same time.
    - When working on display fonts: Set the size to 200 and you get a small cascade, set it to 300px and you get a full cascade (Great for deciding on your font's spacing/fitting).
    Thank you, Pablo. For reminding me that, for many purposes, browsers are very capable tools for print layout. 

    Perhaps spin-offs of those pages you listed, re-done as standalone html pages residing in the local file system, would be helpful to some. 

    Gonna check that out. 

    - rich
  • For testing fonts in the browser i’m working a tool: http://cartographyapp.com/. It lets you set fonts in similar ways designers will be using them, save your project for later and export as HTML.

    It’s early right now and i’d love feedback!
  • @Thomas Phinney What's the book vs regular issue in InDesign?
  • Stephen ColesStephen Coles Posts: 929
    Nice idea, Andrew. Excited to try it out. I think the Cartography name is a little odd and misleading, but I know naming things is difficult. I would keep thinking. 
  • Georg SeifertGeorg Seifert Posts: 660
    OTMaster has an Opentype tester that uses harfbuzz. It allowes to enable or disable features and tells you about the substituted glyph names. 
  • James PuckettJames Puckett Posts: 1,849
    Thanks for all the suggestions. I’ve decided to switch to a single app plan and only use Indesign. If that goes well I’ll drop Creative Cloud entirely in 2017.
  • Khaled HosnyKhaled Hosny Posts: 284
    Frode Bo Helland: If one is targeting mainly the web and other on screen media, then that is kinda the point. Otherwise I just use a larger size or print the spicemen to exclude rounding and other low res rendering errors.
  • PabloImpallariPabloImpallari Posts: 552
    edited May 2016
    @Khaled Hosny In my experience, even on the Retina screen, the rendering introduces some rounding – enough to make it uncertain whether there is something wrong with spacing/kerning or not.
    Oh man.. can't tell you how much I hate those f**king rounding errors.

    But as Khaled says, that's also the point. Since they are part of the game you need to embrace them, and make you font somewhat immune to the rounding errors. (in the same way other optimizations are done to other use cases: inktraps, increased contrast, opened counters, etc).

    I try to make all my advance widths even numbers to minimize those. Also printing on paper, where I will make the final decisions. What else you can do? Anyone know other tricks?
  • PabloImpallariPabloImpallari Posts: 552
    edited May 2016
    Simply rounding your advance widths: For example if you glyph is 111 units wide, make it 100 or 102 instead. But I don't even know if that really works, it's just a hunch, not a proven method.

    Also when kerning, sometimes I prefer my pairs to be multiples of 4, instead of multiples of 5.
    Maybe its just and OCD thing....
  • George ThomasGeorge Thomas Posts: 594
    "...not a proven method."

    That's the truth right there.


  • Chris LozosChris Lozos Posts: 1,402
    I try to make my kerning to be multiples of 8 as much as possible.
  • Multiples of 2 now
  • Making everything an even number helps if you're interpolating.
  • It would be nice if there was a macro for rounding odd numbers, or flagging glyphs, or force-rounding interpolated instances whether sidebearings or stems, or reporting inconsistencies, I like everything to round to even numbers.
  • Thomas PhinneyThomas Phinney Posts: 2,265

    So perhaps James' question needs more clarity on for what he is testing, but also perhaps Adobe needs to answer how long it intends to do things on its own, different from the web?;)
    It is not like “the web” is a single unitary thing, either. There are different browsers doing things differently, and needing to be tested in separately.  :(
  • Thomas PhinneyThomas Phinney Posts: 2,265
    @Thomas Phinney What's the book vs regular issue in InDesign?
    InDesign wants each family to have a default, “regular” style. Since in some families this would be “book” and in some families “regular” some engineer at some point decided that they would treat the two as the same. If a family has both a “book” style and a “regular” style, only one will show up in InDesign, unless Adobe adds the family to a hardcoded list that gets special handling. At least, this was still the case last time I knew about it. It is possible this has been fixed since. And no, you don’t have to tell me how dumb you think that is.
  • Florian HardwigFlorian Hardwig Posts: 226
    edited May 2016
    The Book/Regular issue has been fixed in InDesign CS6 (and possibly in earlier versions).
  • According to my notes the Book/Regular/Normal/Plain issue concerns InDesign CS + CS2 only. It has been fixed since CS3.
  • Thomas PhinneyThomas Phinney Posts: 2,265
    Well, whatever version, it is good that it has been fixed. (I'm surprised that it might have been as early as CS3, wondering if the particular fonts might have been special-cased).
  • Thomas: "It is not like “the web” is a single unitary thing, either. There are different browsers doing things differently"

    Absolutely. the question James asked is if you don't use Indesign, what do you use for font testing? So, I think it's prudent to ask "for what are you testing"? or at least
    "Test what?" Or maybe just grin and grunt, "You Test?". In a general case, if the answer is "everything", either in the context of testing everywhere the font could be used, or every way the font should be used according to its purpose and recommendations, or both, then CC cannot be avoided.

    And also, don't get me wrong, the difference between your description of adobe's handling of Regular, and the web's are both entirely sane to me. In one handling, an engineering group decided to make a mapping between style names and parametric values happen in an environment with relatively static fonts, and then all developers had to, except for the magic list you mention, develop to that. And on the web, I dunno how it got that way, too much typographic disembowlment to have desire to remember, but it's about the same, except that the fonts are dynamic and not every client needs a magic list, but they can each make their own mapping of style name to their parametric desires if they so wish, and they can do so across font families.

    That's not a recommendation for James, or anyone else to make sure and test the three fonts in their font family that could end up as regular, with every other other bold it could end up with on the web. But I hope it illustrates the need to say what you do want to test.


  • James PuckettJames Puckett Posts: 1,849
    I’ve already gone back to Creative Cloud. Affinity Photo, Affinity Designer, and Sketch are all terrible. Adobe’s bugs are less annoying than the alternatives are when they’re working correctly. 
  • Chris LozosChris Lozos Posts: 1,402
    The truth is, James, the Adobe stuff is what our clients use.  Sadly, there is not enough competition to force them to do a better job at fixing their products.
  • Sadly, there is not enough competition to force them to do a better job at fixing their products.
    Let’s not forget that at least we have some of our own people talking to them about the typography UI now, and some changes have already started to happen. Of course this doesn’t magically Make Everything Ok but it’s not like nothing at all ever improves.
  • attarattar Posts: 209
    Let’s not forget that at least we have some of our own people talking to them about the typography UI now,
    IMO the bottleneck is and has been the engineering time they devote to it rather than a lack of ideas.
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