September 26, 2005
Your type can look better
As things get easier and faster, do they have to get crummier? No, but if we’re not careful, it’s easy to sacrifice depth and craft for breadth.
Ten years ago, print designers couldn’t understand why I couldn’t replicate their leading and kerning in HTML. Ten years later, I wonder how many designers bother to kern at all.
But beyond resurrecting these fundamentals, new technology lets us do better. OpenType technology allows for much richer character sets, and numerous faces in the Adobe Type Library support this new functionality. Access to alternate characters can help put an end to the kind of blunder I saw in a national magazine several weeks back, where supposedly handwritten parchment featured three identical “g”‘s in a single word.
To see the benefits in action, check out this tutorial from Russell Brown, and this one from Deke McClelland.
(On related fronts, the new Flash Player features much improved text display. Also, Typetester is a little online utility for comparing screen fonts [link via Newsight]. And Linotype has released FontExplorer X, with an iTunes-like ability to organize, preview, and purchase fonts.)
Two in the hand
Wow–now this you don’t see every day. A small company called Tactiva has unveiled a rather eye-popping demo of a device that lets you use both hands while working in design software.
The appeal of using two hands at once (instead of essentially pointing with a stick and grunting, as is done with a mouse) isn’t new; the latest Wacom tablets feature touch strips for non-dominant hand work, and Logitech and others sell a variety of pucks and other devices for the same purpose. But the Tactiva device takes things to a new level by displaying a ghosted image of your actual hands overlaid on the UI, as well as providing force feedback when you interact with on-screen objects.
The device faces plenty of obstacles to adoption (no manufacturers yet, potential $1000 price point, need for support in applications that assume a single input control). Yet I keep thinking about it.
What do you think? Just a neat parlor trick, or the future of computing, or something in between?