Nick Sherman’s brilliant implementation of the variable format to kerning, in his new Franklin
, features kerning axes that represent two different paradigms. That the end-user may now vary the style of kerning incrementally with both these is really quite profound.
Although, in order to make the concept work, Nick has exercised his taste in putting a huge amount of kerning data into the font, it nonetheless puts the onus on typographers to make their own aesthetic decisions about letter spacing.
In effect, we are entering a third era of non-manual kerning.
- No kerning.
- Foundry kerning.
- Typographer kerning.
Any idea that there is some perfect theory and method of kerning that may be programmed into a font is now dead. More power to the typographer and their taste.
Another possibility would be to put two kerning styles on the same axis, so that the users may slide between them. But perhaps the “Tyght” axis already does that.
nb. It has previously been possible for typographers to apply both methods to the same font, by turning off the “Metrics” kerning in a tight-but-not-touching font, and applying “Optical” kerning—but that lacked the variable dimension.