May 1, 2013
Today we are pleased to announce that Adobe has contributed its CFF rasterizer to FreeType. The code is now available for testing in the latest beta version of FreeType. This open source project, aimed at improving CFF rasterization in devices and environments that use FreeType, is a collaboration between Adobe, Google and FreeType.
Modern fonts use one of two outline formats – TrueType or CFF. TrueType was developed by Apple in 1990, while CFF (the Compact Font Format) was developed by Adobe as a second-generation form of the Type 1 format (often called PostScript fonts) that Adobe first released in 1984. Either TrueType or CFF can be used in OpenType fonts. The two share many qualities, but differ in two primary ways: they use different math to describe the curves in letterforms, and they have different styles of “hinting.” (Hinting = providing guidance to the rasterizer to ensure each letterform is represented as faithful as possible in a limited set of pixels.) TrueType puts most of the emphasis on instructions built into the font, while Type 1 and CFF rely more on intelligence in the rasterizer. This makes the quality of the rasterizer particularly important, and Adobe expects its contribution to FreeType will produce a noticeable improvement for CFF fonts in environments that use FreeType. Continue reading…
August 14, 2012
Over at Daring Fireball yesterday, John Gruber waxed rhapsodic about his lifelong relationship with pixels, and their marginalization in the new MacBook Pro Retina Display. He then talked about fonts in that context:
Regarding font choices, you not only need not choose a font optimized for rendering on screen, but should not. Fonts optimized for screen rendering look cheap on the retina MacBook Pro — sometimes downright cheesy — in the same way they do when printed in a glossy magazine. [...] Great fonts, intricately designed for high-resolution output, aren’t just allowed, they are necessary for a design that truly sings on this display.
John is talking about the long game of type design that Adobe has been practicing and advocating for over 25 years — especially in the last two or three years as screen fonts (a.k.a. web fonts) have taken a front seat in designer workflows and font foundry business planning. While there’s nothing wrong with finding the perfect solution to a contemporary problem — as many foundries have sought to do with highly screen-optimized fonts — it’s an endeavor that takes a lot of time and resources, always with the looming threat that those benefits will be fleeting. At Adobe, we’ve always been very comfortable relying on the inherent value of type designed to work well in print and high-resolution environments. No doubt that is a conservative choice, but keep in mind that Adobe Type has always been a product for digital workflows. One of the first Adobe Originals, Adobe Garamond, was designed in consideration, not defiance, of the 300 dpi laser printers of its time. Doing so did not make it incongruous with the past or the future.
I’m looking forward to the day when this bifurcation, “fonts” and “web fonts,” disappears and we can get back to simply practicing good typography with good typefaces, and worrying less about the medium and the technology. Although it seems like we’ve been anticipating high resolution screens for at least fifteen years, perhaps we are, finally, almost there.
April 3, 2012
The Robothon conference in The Hague is always an exceptional event, bringing together designers and developers interested in the technical aspects of type design. While it is a great opportunity to meet people and exchange ideas, it is also a place to hear about the latest developments in type technology. This year, many presentations focused on hinting, two of which were presented by members of the Adobe Type Team. Continue reading…
September 1, 2011
A month ago, Typekit rolled out improved font rendering on Windows, and began serving certain typefaces in OpenType CFF (PostScript Type 1) format*, instead of the more customary TrueType format. Yesterday, they began serving selected Adobe Web Fonts as CFF as well, and the result is noticeably better appearance for large text sizes.
Typekit observed that, although TrueType fonts tend to look better at text sizes with Microsoft’s ClearType subpixel antialiasing in Windows GDI rendering environments (still the majority of web viewers out there), there can be distracting pixelation on some diagonal features at large point sizes. Their clever solution is to serve CFF fonts for certain display designs which are unlikely to be used at smaller text sizes. GDI will only apply grayscale antialiasing to Type 1 fonts, resulting in smoother appearance. On Mac OS X and in some newer Windows environments (DirectWrite, to be more specific), the quality is essentially the same as TrueType.
Large letters rendered in Windows GDI from TrueType outlines (left) and CFF (right). (Image: the Typekit Blog)
Here at Adobe, we’re obviously pleased to see CFF fonts served where it makes sense to do so. We think CFF has certain qualities and advantages which often make it a better choice — on the web and elsewhere. (Later this month I will be speaking more about this at the ATypI conference in Reykjavíc, Iceland.) To read more on this subject from Typekit and to see more examples, see yesterday’s post on the Typekit Blog.
* When referring to “PostScript,” “Type 1″ or “CFF” fonts, what I really mean is OpenType with this outline format in it. OpenType fonts can contain outlines in either CFF or TrueType format. CFF — the Compact Font Format — is a variation of the original Type 1 font format, created by Adobe along with the PostScript language.
December 2, 2010
.otf file extension) and TrueType (
.ttf file extension*) are the two modern font formats available for desktop usage today. Despite being distinct formats, OT/CFF and TT fonts actually have a lot in common. They are distinguished primarily by their different outline formats and the contrasting approaches employed to rasterize those outlines.
The glyph outlines in OT/CFF fonts are made of cubic Bézier paths whereas in TT fonts they’re made of quadratic Béziers.
Two similar paths. Cubic Bézier (left) and quadratic Bézier (right).
November 12, 2010
You may remember my earlier blog post in which I stated that turning on ClearType makes the fonts look better on Windows, and that is generally true if the text is set at a small size (i.e. 9–16 px). But at the same time, text set at a large size displays jagged edges, whereas it doesn’t if the font smoothing option is set to anti-aliasing (aka grayscale).
Headlines from Typekit's homepage rendered by Google Chrome 7.x on Windows 7 with ClearType turned on. Notice the jagged edges on the curved top and bottom parts of the letters.
October 13, 2010
A couple weeks ago I mentioned the three rasterization methods available on Windows XP, and explained how to enable ClearType. This time I’m going to talk about the browsers’ default font smoothing method on the various versions of Windows, and how that may affect the rendering of text.
Vista and 7
Google Chrome 6.x
Internet Explorer 6.x
(browser uses the system’s
(browser uses the system’s
|Internet Explorer 7.x
Internet Explorer 8.x
(browser has a setting independent of the system setting)
October 6, 2010
One benefit of web fonts that many designers may not immediately think of is the potential to serve fonts for languages that website visitors may not have font support for on their local devices. In case you may have missed this information in earlier communications, the web fonts we are serving on Typekit are full analogues of desktop fonts. This means that the web versions of all our fonts have all the same glyphs and all of the OpenType features found in their counterparts. Although there is currently no mechanism for exploring language support on Typekit, I have been assured that this will be forthcoming. In the meantime, I thought it would be worthwhile to review the language support provided by our current set of web fonts.
September 28, 2010
When you see text displayed on a modern computer screen or on a handheld device’s display, you are likely to be looking at a font that has been rasterized, i.e. converted, from vector outlines to pixels. There are currently three main ways of accomplishing this rasterization. The most basic one is aliased rendering, where the letters are drawn in black and white pixels only. The next one is anti-aliased rendering, where the pixels can assume shades of gray, in addition to black and white. And the third one is sub-pixel rendering, where the intermediate degrees of pixel opacity between black and white are displayed in color rather than grayscale. Microsoft’s sub-pixel rendering technology is called ClearType.
From left to right: aliased, anti-aliased and sub-pixel renditions of the letter o (enlarged to show detail).
September 15, 2010
These days, almost anyone you talk to can name their favorite font. Likewise, virtually every business, whether large or small, as well as an ever-increasing number of individuals, maintain a website or blog. What if you could use your favorite font on your blog or website? With the advent of web fonts, the chances of being able to do just that are increasing day by day. In fact, this recently happened to Chelsey Scheffe as you can see from the screen capture of her blog post dated August 30 of this year. As we recently announced, Adobe has made several of its most popular typefaces available for @font-face embedding via Typekit’s service, and we plan on adding even more in the future.
Nothing Relevant blog using Adobe Garamond. Rendered in Chrome on Windows XP.
But, just because you can use your favorite font on the web, should you? This article is the second in our weekly series on web fonts, and seeks to lay out some very basic, practical design considerations to keep in mind when choosing type that is intended to be viewed on screen in the context of the web. I will thus focus on the more technical aspects of choosing type. For further guidance on choosing and pairing type, I strongly recommend reading Robert Bringhurst’s excellent Elements of Typographic Style, particularly the sixth chapter, which is entitled “Choosing & Combining Type.”