Online specimen generators

Are websites that generate specimens an effective way to avoid caching issues when updating and re-generating fonts? 

(I'm used to generating to the Adobe fonts folder to avoid cache problems, but I am wondering what the best workaround is in the situation where access to that folder is prohibited or Adobe apps are not installed.)

Comments

  • Nick ShinnNick Shinn Posts: 1,867
    I just drag the latest version into the Fonts folder (Mac OS).

  • Craig EliasonCraig Eliason Posts: 1,264
    Into /Library/Fonts? Or ~/Library/Fonts? You don't find weird behavior when you overwrite font files with new versions?
  • I use an HTML file with some CSS on a local machine. I have designed it to show specimens at different font sizes and some colors. The HTML is kept in the same folder where my compiled font resides. So after compilation, just a browser hard refresh shows the updated font.

    You can see the sample specimen here. That is a screenshot taken from the browser output.
  • Craig EliasonCraig Eliason Posts: 1,264
    Thanks. So would something like this avoid caching issues? If so, is that because any such browser-based testers would?

    BTW, I'd suggest turning off the full justification of those paragraphs—that would make it more useful for judging the width of /space.

    Maybe I should have framed my question with more clarity about what I'm seeking: I will be teaching a type design course with students working on university Mac workstations, and I suspect their access to the Library innards will be restricted. It occurred to me that some of these web-based specimen generators might be a cache-problem-free alternative to actually installing the fonts. But I am seeking confirmation that they would work as I imagine. And here is my full wish list:

    * Fonts can be displayed and printed without requiring installation or Adobe.
    * Updated versions of the same font do not pose problems.
    * Webpage can generate texts though alphabet is incomplete (either by reading the font file to recognize what is missing, by allowing us to list the glyphs that are complete, or just by allowing us to paste in the text we want to set). 

    Can anyone confirm that all of this is a) possible and b) existent?
  • Yes, a web based specimen generator would avoid caching issues; and mine only generates texts that use the glyphs that are present in the font.
  • John SavardJohn Savard Posts: 986
    steven said:
    When I visited the site, I saw its contents in Chinese, even though it seemed to think it was showing me the English version. I had to change to French and back to English to see English; just clicking on English didn't work.
  • Roel NieskensRoel Nieskens Posts: 161
    edited January 25
    There's two ways to use web apps, and both will fix the problem of caching or needing to install the font.

    You can drop a font on the page, and something will be generated, like these:
    Or you can have a local web application generate a new specimen, every time you update something (the font, the content). Harder to set up, but you're not dependent on someone else's website.
    You certainly don't need anything from Adobe for any of this :-)
  • There's also Specimen Builder by Mark Boulton that's based on Specimen Skeleton, but builds an actual specimen (whereas Specimen Skeleton only provides the fundamental building blocks for web developers) https://github.com/markboulton/specimen-builder
  • Craig EliasonCraig Eliason Posts: 1,264
    Excellent and helpful news, thanks guys!
  • stevensteven Posts: 10
    edited January 24
    steven said:
    When I visited the site, I saw its contents in Chinese, even though it seemed to think it was showing me the English version. I had to change to French and back to English to see English; just clicking on English didn't work.

    Hi John Savard
  • Nick ShinnNick Shinn Posts: 1,867
    edited January 24
    @Craig Eliason
    Into /Library/Fonts? Or ~/Library/Fonts? You don't find weird behavior when you overwrite font files with new versions? 
    This is the location on the old iMac I work on.
    I don’t recall anything weird happening recently.
    Macintosh HD > Users > shinntype > Library > Fonts
  • Into /Library/Fonts? Or ~/Library/Fonts? You don't find weird behavior when you overwrite font files with new versions?
    Yes, weird behaviour. I stopped doing this a few years ago when at some stage Font Book on the Mac seemed to get a bit over-zealous. Simply using the Finder to overwrite files in the Library would often result in old fonts still displaying, kerning not updating or horizontal metrics going wild. Even when it appeared that all was well, I often couldn't be sure I was looking at the correctly updated font. Same applied in both System Library and User Library.

    On a Mac, I now use Font Book to remove unwanted fonts, quit, relaunch and then install replacement fonts. I stick to the User Library. Of course most (but not all) font testing software must also be closed before and relaunched after. All rather tedious and seemingly not necessary on older MacOS and Font Book versions. I work between several computers spanning 15 years which all have idiosyncratic behaviours.

    On Windows, I am grateful to get any fonts loaded at all and generally restrict my testing to Microsoft programs to see if font menus do what they should. Life is simply too short.

    When it comes to browser-based testing, a 'hard refresh' is often not reliable, depending again on software versions. In Safari on a Mac, it seems you have to delete the entire browser cache! While it would be tempting to stick with a single browser that performed reliably, you'd only be looking at one OS and one browser's rendering combination. Surprises and disappointment may lurk elsewhere.

    There is no alternative but to test in as many environments as possible. Has anyone ever documented these as a 'best practice' guide?

  • I just rename all of my instances each time I generate the fonts I’m working on. Usually something like: fontName220125V1 (for version one of a font generated on Jan 1, 2022). This lets me keep older versions installed to compare changes.

    I just have to run a find and replace before I run the shell script that generates my instances and .ofts.
  • Thomas PhinneyThomas Phinney Posts: 2,289
    I used to do something similar to @James Hultquist-Todd where in testing/development, I would put a version number at the end of the family name.

    This is super helpful for one other reason: you always know for sure which version of the font you are seeing!
  • stevensteven Posts: 10
    edited January 26
    There is a font management tool NexusFont under Windows; you can try RightFont under Mac, which may solve your troubles.

    NexusFont: Fonts can be tested without installation;
    RightFont: An exclusive font management tool for the Mac platform. It has a beautiful interface and powerful functions. It can be used to preview, test, install, synchronize, and manage fonts in various formats.
  • As currently bouncing around on Twitter, there's also https://www.fontspecimen.com/ from Monotype™
  • And how could I forget http://www.galvanizedjets.com (since I've recently been working on it...)
  • Nick ShinnNick Shinn Posts: 1,867
    I’ve used Laurence Penney’s AxisPraxis for looking at Variable Fonts
  • It seems at least on Debian GNU/Linux there is no such issue with fonts not getting updated instantly. I usually just replace the font file and open the application with my test text again.
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