SVG-in-OpenType Enables Color and Animation in Fonts

After two years of discussion and development, the W3C community group (CG) SVG Glyphs for OpenType recently finalized its report for an extension to the OpenType font format. This extension allows glyphs to be defined in the font as SVG (Scalable Vector Graphics). Such OpenType fonts can display colors, gradients, and even animation right “out of the box,” that is, when rendered by a font engine that supports this extension.

While the initial use case, emoji, is described in our Typblography article “SVG in OpenType: Genesis,” this extension to OpenType allows for a broad range of applications: colored illuminated initial capitals, creative display titling, logo and icon fonts, and educational fonts that show kanji stroke ordering and direction. These use cases are central to Adobe’s roots and continuing exploration of how best to thrill customers with rich visual expressiveness, in this case through typographic innovation.

The bulk of the specification was crafted by Adobe and Mozilla. I teamed up with Cameron McCormack and Edwin Flores of Mozilla to edit the report. Chris Lilley of the W3C chaired the CG. Mozilla’s implementation in Firefox was the first such (the Typblography article above contains instructions on how to see SVG-in-OT in action in Firefox). We will be presenting the CG’s final report to ISO MPEG’s Open Font Format (OFF) committee in January 2014 for formal inclusion in their specification. An MPEG approval of the specification would mean automatic acceptance into the OpenType specification.

Adobe has contributed extensively to the OFF and OpenType specifications since their inception, starting of course with inclusion of our Compact Font Format (CFF) into OpenType in the mid-nineties. In subsequent years, we proposed several additional tables, table extensions, and features to improve text layout and to accompany advances in Unicode (variation sequences, for example) – extensions which have been implemented by OpenType font engines across the board, including those of Apple, Microsoft, and Google.

Sairus Patel
Senior Computer Scientist
Core Type Technologies


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