Posts in Category "Languages & Character Sets"

June 8, 2007

Adobe Arabic – sample VOLT code

Very quietly a couple of years ago, with Acrobat 7.05, Adobe shipped Adobe Arabic, an original OpenType typeface commissioned by Adobe with production by Tiro Typeworks, created by type designer Tim Holloway with Fiona Ross and John Hudson. The typeface won recognition from the TDC and has generally been well received.

Tiro recently had inquiries about showing the VOLT source code for Adobe Arabic to a third-party font developer. We’re fine with that, but we thought that to be fair to all developers I should simply post the code here for any interested party. So here you are (73K Zip file).

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10:15 AM Permalink
May 6, 2007

Greek type design

Every couple of years in June there’s this cool typography conference in Thessaloniki, Greece. Well, maybe more tropically warm, but you get the idea. This year, besides the conference and other events June 18-24, there’s a Greek type design contest. Luckily, you don’t even have to do a full typeface, just these words: ένα αναμφισβήτητα ξεχωριστό γεγονός.

The contest has a bunch of categories (text, display, pixel, experiemental) and you’re free to do anything from a traditional font to photography, video, animation or CGI. The deadline is May 31st, and there are valuable prizes. Details here (note the links at the top for all the different sections). Thanks to Eirini Vlachou for the tip!

In related news, the Type Directors Club in NYC is holding the second in a series of “Non-Latin Weekend” type design seminars, Oct 5-7. This time it’s Gerry Leonidas, on Greek type design. This is the same guy who consults for companies such as Adobe and Microsoft to help us get our Greek typefaces looking good. I’m hoping we can send two or three people, because this is sure to be worthwhile for anybody who would like to design Greek typefaces (or typefaces that include Greek, as most of ours do these days).

2:57 PM Permalink
April 3, 2007

InDesign CS3 new font/text features

Adobe InDesign® CS3 has a ton of new features, many of which can be seen on its Web site. But there are also many features that aren’t quite big enough to be seen on that august location. I thought I’d mention a few of them that are of particular interest to my fellow font geeks.

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8:12 AM Permalink
August 1, 2006

Extending Cyrillic (and later Latin) character sets

One project I’ve been working on is to define some extended character sets: that is, more characters that we’re going to have as standard in many of our future new fonts, and in some cases in future revisions to existing fonts.

First I tackled Cyrillic. What I’m presenting here is what you might consider a “late draft” – it’s what we’re going to go with unless we find errors or key omissions, and what Robert and I have been putting into the next typefaces we’re working on. Feedback welcome!

Some time later this year I’m likely to get into the same process for Latin-based languages. So, if you have any thoughts on characters that we aren’t yet putting in our newest Pro fonts, but you think would be useful additions, please comment. I’ll accumulate any and all suggestions, and look into them more carefully when time permits.

Note: In your comments, I’d appreciate your referring to characters both by Unicode and some kind of descriptive name, or with links to detailed info. For example, you might say “you should include the new Ukrainian hryvnia currency symbol, U+20B4, in all your fonts which support Cyrillic,” or “you should make sure your new or extended Latin fonts support the six accented letters needed by Esperanto: u with breve, and c g h j and s with circumflex. See”

[NOTE: Special thanks to Emil Yakupov of Paratype for his careful analysis and review of the original version of this post. On Aug 3, 2006, I did several minor updates as noted below in the text. None of these affected our actual character set definition, however.]

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10:41 AM Permalink
November 12, 2005

Great Customer Expectations for OpenType

A couple of posts back, I was writing very much from the type designer’s perspective, sharing in their angst over the vast new opportunities (=work) that await them these days with multilingual OpenType fonts with lots of typographic features. But, as my colleague David Lemon pointed out after reading that article, the flip side of this coin is the customers’ point of view and their high expectations.

Our end users are easily confused and occasionally disappointed by OpenType. After all, everybody talks about the wonderful capabilities of the format. But the reality is, none of the fonts that are available has all those capabilities in just a single package, and no application supports all possible OpenType features. In fact, even of Adobe’s own fonts, fewer than half have significant OpenType features. Just because a font is in OpenType format doesn’t mean it has small caps, oldstyle figures or lots of ligatures. And it doesn’t say anything about having any added language support, either. And worse, it’s not like there are just two classes of fonts, “big” and “small,” but there are many possible levels of support, both typographic and linguistic….

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8:27 PM Permalink
October 27, 2005

Increased expectations & OT font glyph sets

I was planning on making my next post about contextual alternates and features in OpenType. Instead, I’m writing today because I’m really tired, and want to say that one complaint I’ve heard from some font developers is largely true.

Some typeface designers have been saying in the last year or two, in posts on Typophile and elsewhere, that there’s one main problem with making fonts that have tons of typographic features and extended language support. It’s a whole bunch more work to make such fonts. They don’t think they can charge enough extra to make it worth the extra work. Plus, they end up spending more time on fewer designs, and the proportion of their type design time that’s spent creatively is going down. But it’s a general trend, and some feel they don’t have much choice but to go along with it.

Note: if you don’t already know about OpenType, read one or more of the following.

So, I’ve been sitting here the last week working hard on my upcoming typeface, Hypatia Sans™ Pro Most of what I’ve been doing is the thrilling, death-defying task of assembling accented characters using composites and mark attachment in FontLab Studio 5. Somewhere along the way, I got a bit worn out, and I am wanting to express my commiseration with my fellow type designers and offer a few thoughts about the challenges we face in this “brave new world”….

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10:04 AM Permalink
October 18, 2005

Contextual font magic

This OpenType stuff is often pretty fun. Some of the most fun and the flashiest demos (though not necessarily the most typographical utility) comes from fonts that make heavy use of contextual substitutions or sometimes ligatures that imitate contextual substitutions.

What are contextual substitutions? Basically, a case where what glyphs get substituted depends on what other glyphs are around them. Originally, the primary purpose of this was to do better connecting script fonts. These are typographical flash for English and western languages, but some of the contextual functionality is necessary just to do basic good typography for Arabic, or the Indic languages.

Of course, as is the way with such things, in the past couple of years type designers have taken the technology and put it to uses which its inventors never dreamed of. So, today’s blog entry will look at contextual typefaces, from fancy scripts to improbably weird effects in experimental fonts.

5:02 PM Permalink