Standards 101

Attention, students! Class is in session.

In my experience, the following two statements about standards are seemingly conflicting yet accurate:

  1. Standards are incredibly useful—and required—for product development.
  2. Standards cannot be completely trusted.

On one hand, developing products, such as typeface designs and their fonts, depends on standards.

On the other hand, standards themselves are developed by humans, meaning that they are prone to error, especially when they happen to be character set or glyph standards that include thousands or tens of thousands of representative glyphs.
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Autumn 2016 Activities

The first day of Autumn this year is Thursday, September 22nd, and my schedule for this upcoming season is filled with several standards-related activities…
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UTC #148, Extension F & Unicode Version 10.0

UTC #148 took place in Redmond, Washington last week, hosted by our friends at Microsoft. It was a four-day working meeting, and many important Unicode-related issues and proposals were discussed. A total of 7,888 new characters were formally accepted into the standard during this meeting. Among them were the 7,473 CJK Unified Ideographs of Extension F, along with the lone CJK Unified Ideograph U+9FEA that is appended to the URO (Unified Repertoire & Ordering) and is the result of the disunification of 㸂 U+3E02, which were accepted on 2016-08-04 for inclusion into Unicode Version 10.0. Version 10.0 is slated for a June 2017 release. This means that my table above is now less tentative (clicking on the image will reveal the entire PDF file that includes details about the unchanged CJK Compatibility Ideographs).

Other CJK Unified Ideographs that are slated to be included in Unicode Version 10.0 are the 20 characters, U+9FD6 through U+9FE9, which were accepted on 2014-10-28 (UTC #141).

This will bring the total number of CJK Unified Ideographs to 87,882, and as the table at the top of this article suggests, there is not much room left in Plane 2, and Extension G is just around the corner.

😱

For those who are curious about the 414 other new characters that were accepted during UTC #148, please click here, here, here, here, here, here, and here.

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August 2, 2016—A Date Which Will Live In Dignity

August 2, 2016 is the official release date for Microsoft’s Windows 10 Anniversary Update (aka Redstone or RS1). Although I do not use Windows OS, I am jumping for joy, for the benefit of those who do use this modern and world-class OS.

Thanks to our friends at Microsoft, the DirectWrite that ships with the Windows 10 Anniversary Update supports OpenType/CFF Collections (aka OTCs), such as those deployed as part of the Adobe-branded Source Han Sans and Google-branded Noto Sans CJK open source projects, to include their all-inclusive “one font to rule them all” Super OTCs.


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Unicode Version 9.0

For those who missed the memo, Unicode Version 9.0 was released on June 21, 2016, which added exactly 7,500 characters to the standard. Unicode now includes a total 128,172 characters, which is just shy of 3,000 characters under two full 256×256 planes.

While Version 9.0 does not add any new CJK Unified Ideographs, I used this opportunity to enhance my single-page CJK Unified/Compatibility Ideographs document to better track unassigned code points for the relevant blocks and planes. The image at the top of this article shows the first half of the document, and if you click on it, you’ll access the original PDF file that can be squirreled away for reference purposes.

I also used this opportunity to update my tentative Unicode Version 10.0 document in the same way.

As usual, enjoy!

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25 Years of #AdobeLife & @AdobeType

Today is Friday, July 1st, 2016, which is a date that has a special significance for me. I am publishing this from Hot Springs, South Dakota where I am enjoying a few days away from work.

My life was put on a new path exactly 25 years ago, on Monday, July 1st, 1991. I was 25 years old at the time, and I am therefore 50 years old now. It was on this date that I started working at Adobe as a member of its Type Development team. My employee number is 879, though at the time there were approximately 500 employees in total. It was a much smaller company back then. As you can see from my very first business card below, I was involved in things related to Japanese type from the very beginning:

 

This event effectively launched a 25-year career that is still going strong, and which has been in the same department doing essentially the same thing, though the technologies and related standards have changed or evolved.

The rest of this somewhat lengthy article will be used to highlight some of my accomplishments during each five-year period.
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Glyph Names versus CIDs

This will be a short, sweet, and to-the-point article. Sorry, no graphics nor photos.

When developing name-keyed fonts, glyph names matter. They matter a lot. When developing new fonts, the glyph names should either be explicitly listed in AGLFN (Adobe Glyph List For New Fonts) or derivable via the AGL Specification. Glyph names that adhere to AGLFN or the AGL Specification result in fonts with well-formed 'cmap' tables, which means that their glyphs will behave better in a broader range of environments. I cannot stress the importance of this.

CIDs (Character IDs), on the other hand, represent a completely different beast. If a font is genuinely CID-keyed, it means that there are absolutely no glyph names, regardless of whether the source font or fonts that were used to build the CID-keyed font were named-keyed. Once a font resource becomes CID-keyed, the original glyph names are literally jettisoned, and the only way in which to map Unicode values to glyphs is via the 'cmap' table, which is usually done using a UTF-32 CMap resource. In other words, when developing fonts that are intended to be deployed in a CID-keyed fashion, the source glyph names play absolutely no role in how such fonts are processed.

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XUID Arrays: One Less Thing To Worry About


By ESO/José Francisco Salgado (josefrancisco.org) — ALMA antennas under the Milky Way

Five years ago, I wrote this article that described how to manage XUID arrays. Then last year, I wrote this article that suggested that XUID arrays are no longer necessary.

Anyway, there are two messages that are being conveyed in today’s article.

The first message is short and sweet, and meant to be strong: Adobe advises against including XUID arrays in all new and updated font-related resources, meaning fonts themselves and their corresponding CMap resources. The good news is that omitting the XUID array represents one less thing to worry about during font development.

The second message is longer, meant to provide some background information, and describes why Adobe advises against including XUID arrays in font-related resources.
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Tofu, or not Tofu

One of my more popular open source fonts is Adobe Blank, and to a less extent the related Adobe Blank 2 because it uses a 'cmap' table format, Format 13, that is not broadly supported. Actually, Adobe Blank provides absolutely nothing, because it maps all 1,111,998 Unicode code points to a range of 2,048 non-spacing and non-marking glyphs, yet such a font is useful for particular scenarios, such as addressing the FOUT (Flash Of Unstyled Text) problem.

Allow me to introduce Adobe NotDef, which is modeled after Adobe Blank in that it covers all of Unicode and maps to a range of 2,048 glyphs, but differs in that the functional glyphs are spacing and marking. The original suggestion for Adobe NotDef came from Dave Crossland. The glyphs match the shape and advance width of the standard Adobe .notdef glyph that is invoked in environments that do not support font fallback when the selected font does not include a glyph for a particular character, and as Dave wrote, Adobe NotDef is useful for font fallback purposes in that it can be used to prevent the display of non-standard .notdef glyphs that may be present in some fonts in the font fallback chain.
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25 Years of Unicode

The Unicode Consortium celebrated its 25th anniversary in January of this year. The photo above is the celebratory (U+1F955 CARROT; a Unicode Version 9.0 candidate) cake that was enjoyed during the UTC (Unicode Technical Committee) #146 meeting that was hosted by IBM in San José from January 25th through 28th, 2016.
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Soon To Open: Plane 3, the Tertiary Ideographic Plane

Guess what.

🤔

Plane 2, the SIP (Supplementary Ideographic Plane), is almost full.

Right off the bat, in Unicode Version 3.1 (March of 2001), Extension B filled it nearly two-thirds of the way with its 42,711 characters, along with 542 CJK Compatibility Ideographs. Extension C with 4,149 characters was added in Version 5.2 (October of 2009), Extension D with a mere 222 characters was added in Version 6.0 (October of 2010), and Extension E with 5,762 characters was added in Version 8.0 (June of 2015). On tap for Unicode Version 10, scheduled for a June of 2017 release, is Extension F that currently includes 7,473 characters (U+2CEB0 through U+2EBE0).
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“One Fish, Two Fish, Blowfish, Blue Fish”

That’s the title of the eleventh episode of the second season of The Simpsons which originally aired in early 1991.

This article will instead be about the history and evolution of the blowfish image that graces the cover of my books that were published by O’Reilly Media. The following is the first paragraph of the Colophon of CJKV Information Processing, Second Edition:


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Badges? We don’t need no stinkin’ badges!

Actually, we do.

As pointed out in Matthew Rechs‘ recent and excellent Typekit Blog article about Unicode’s Adopt a Character campaign, these badges were designed by the very talented Jake Giltsoff of the Typekit team at Adobe. Mine for U+1F421 🐡 BLOWFISH is shown above.
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Introducing “Width Test”

It seems that I am on roll, having released two new open source fonts on GitHub within the past week. The previous—and brief—article that was about the LOCL Test OpenType/CFF font simply pointed to the repository. This article will be longer. I promise.
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Introducing “LOCL Test”

Inspired by the font that I prepared for and referenced in the previous article, I decided to launch a dedicated open source project for this useful test font, LOCL Test.

Enjoy!

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Hong Kong or Bust!—Redux

Although this article shares its title with an article from four years ago that was about the excitement associated with attending ATypI Hong Kong 2012, this particular one will focus on efforts to properly support Hong Kong SAR (aka HK or Hong Kong) in the Adobe-branded Source Han Sans and Google-branded Noto Sans CJK typeface families, but also in infrastructure, such as OSes and apps.

In other words, this article is not about traveling to Hong Kong, but rather about properly supporting Hong Kong in OSes, apps, and fonts.
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Something fell between the cracks!

A peculiar series of events that took place on April 1st (no joke) and 2nd of this year led to the discovery of what can only be described as somewhat of a revelation: A small number of CJK Compatibility Ideographs are necessary for China. This is important, because I made the following statement on page 168 of CJKV Information Processing, Second Edition:


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The Joy of tx

One of the most powerful font-development tools available today is tx (Type eXchange), which is included in AFDKO (Adobe Font Development Kit for OpenType) and whose sources are available on GitHub. Despite its two-letter name, this command-line utility is packed with an enormous amount of features and functionality.

Four years ago I wrote a similar article, but it seems like a good time to revisit tx and the useful things that it can do. I still recommend that its “-u” and -h” command-line options be used to explore its vast capabilities.
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“Bahts is [not] parts”

—Mistakes happen—

—Humans make mistakes—

—Anything made by humans has the potential to include mistakes—

The most important things about mistakes are that 1) we recognize them, lest they propagate; 2) we learn from them; 3) we make an effort not to repeat them; and 4) we try to fix them, if possible.

Some mistakes are more easily fixed than others. Mistakes that cannot be fixed must be worked around.

With that said, an interesting event of historical significance occurred in June of 2000:
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The Missing Link

The first version of the IVD (Ideographic Variation Database) was issued on 2007-12-14, meaning over eight years ago, and there have been three subsequent revisions, the latest being issued on 2014-05-16. There are currently three registered IVD collections: Adobe-Japan1, Hanyo-Denshi, and Moji_Joho. A significant number of IVSes are shared between the latter two IVD collections, 9,685 to be exact. While I cannot speak to the latter two IVD collections, the Adobe-Japan1 one is supported by hundreds of OpenType fonts via the Format 14 (Unicode Variation Sequences) ‘cmap‘ subtable. Furthermore, the number of apps and OSes that support UVSes has reached critical mass.

With all that said, there is a rather substantial missing link in terms of IVD support infrastructure: the all-important input method.
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