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KP Mawhood said:
Radical question. Apart from their utility as a transitional tool and backwards compatibility for non-OT Var outputs, what is the advantage of "named" instances over "unnamed" instances?
KP Mawhood said:Besides instances, is there a way to encourage the inexperienced type user towards (1) harmonious type scales that (2) work well together within a single type system?
KP Mawhood said:… how would a reader of Latin script adjust axes for Arabic and vice versa?
Florian Pircher said:
I feel like this discussion is too fixated on the slider interface. A font only offering 300 and 350 axis values but restricting anything in between by specifying a step size for that axis might make some sense for sliders (although I disagree with that), but for different interfaces like number fields, it makes even less sense. A user inputting a value of 325 into a number field would probably expect that value to be set as is, not rounded up or down to the nearest step.
María Ramos said:...
If we have, for example, a font with 30 unit variants, the user can type numbers from 1 to 30, while we can keep the standard values as underlying data...
I am often thinking of corporate typefaces in a big company with more than 100 employees working with the same variable font, the brand guidelines have specific values for different uses of the fonts. Variables fonts with a huge number of values add a layer of complication for them, it is hard to understand what the values actually mean and there are many possibilities of making a mistake.
Florian Pircher said:
But now font users have to memorize 12 is Regular and 6 is Thin in one font, but in a different font that uses a different step size, 3 is Regular and 1 is Thin. And if you use multiple apps, some supporting the step size parameter and some don’t, users have to learn multiple design space interpretations (“If I want bold, then I have to use 23 in this app and 700 in this other app for the same font.”)
Peter Constable said:
María Ramos said:...
If we have, for example, a font with 30 unit variants, the user can type numbers from 1 to 30, while we can keep the standard values as underlying data...I think that would be a bad idea for a few reasons. First, it hinders the advanced user who doesn't want to be constrained to those 30 variants. But more importantly, it obscures what is actually selected in the font and thereby hinders interop in various contexts. For example, the user wouldn't know what to specify in CSS to get the same result. And it removes any commonality across fonts—Bold is 700 in many fonts, but 27 in font A, 14 in font B, 13 in font C...
Peter Constable said:It might not hurt to have data in the font recommending a step size and then have app UI use those steps but without limiting users to those steps. E.g., with a slider or with a numeric control, have arrow keys jump to the next step on an axis, while allowing values in between to be selected by other means.
María Ramos said:And I think you will agree with me it is much easier to find errors (outlines not working properly, inconsistencies...) in a variable font with 800 unit values than one that is limited to a meaningful range […]
John Hudson said:
An unnamed instance would be any axes configuration that was not given any name. Exactly. Any specific location in the design space is an instance or, if you like, a potential instance waiting to be instantiated by being selected and displayed. Named instances are locations that have labels attached to them
Florian Pircher said:
This reminds me of a recent Twitter thread:https://twitter.com/simoncozens/status/1520113885226881024
KP Mawhood said:In terms of UI, it's much easier to select a multi-axes instance from reference points across sliders than a dropdown of 16–40+ fonts that might have overly long and cumbersome naming structure.
Florian Pircher said:The data provided by the STAT table is sufficient for apps to split the named instances into multiple families, offering a reduced style menu. However, I am not aware of any app doing this.
Florian Pircher said:The data provided by the STAT table is sufficient for apps to split the named instances into multiple families, offering a reduced style menu.
A useful and meaningful selection of instances for a signage project is likely to be different from that for a product design project, which is different in turn from that for an annual report.
In the past, working with static font families, users working on different kinds of projects were limited to what the font maker had decided was useful and meaningful in terms of discrete font weights, widths, and other styles. A key benefit of variable fonts—while still allowing the font maker to define named instances—is to remove that limitation, so that typographers can make decisions about what is useful and meaningful.
María Ramos said:
It just feels sometimes we are too scared of trying or proposing things that makes us go through a transition and change the way we work and think.
A few reflections…
1. Is it better/kinder to be disagreed with directly, or be welcomed into a club that back-pats freely? Action often rests on the individual, and it can takes years (decades) to help others see your point of view – and how to implement that – if you continue to believe that it's the right way forward.
Thomas Phinney said:I think it places limitations on end users that as an end user I would hate, creates new problems, and because the problem you are trying to solve doesn’t seem to me to be a problem in the first place.
2. As kindly, gently and politely as I can… Thomas, John you are cutting-edge, leading experts in this field. You can articulate incredibly fine details around these technologies with skill, precision and confidence. Your roles cannot be overstated.
At the same time, you are not the target audience for this product. Variable font technology was not designed for you… because you are experts; you are not the everyday font user. You know too much about the product, the technical constraints, political decisions, business implementation, marketplace projections etc.
What does the everyday font user look like?
It's easy to be lead astray by group think, and so it's important to test our assumptions and apply user research techniques. How much insight did the community gain from Mary Catherine Pflug's "Font Purchasing Habits Survey"?
Simon Cozens said:
Altering the underlying variable font technology to force this change on all uses of VFs is a terrible idea.