Posts in Category "Tools"

November 6, 2013

The mysteries of Type Quality Engineering explained (or how a font gets out the door)


This article was written by my co-worker, Ernie March. Ernie has been our font QE guy for almost 20 years. After some subtle hints (no pun intended), I was finally able to talk him into writing something about all the work that goes into making sure we deliver high-quality fonts to our customers. This is Ernie’s first post on our blog, and I certainly hope it won’t be his last.

No, we don’t just throw it over the fence!
When it comes to font development, our design and production team spends a good deal of time making choices: deciding what the font should look like, what sort of language coverage it should have, what OpenType features it will contain, etc. Then they get down to the serious business of actually creating the font.

The team does a lot of testing during this process, and asks for input from experts in languages/scripts where we don’t already have expertise in-house. Rather than just throw them over the fence once they think they’re done, my co-workers send the fonts over to Quality Engineering (also known as my desk). I test the look, accuracy, and functionality of everything imaginable. This testing involves checking the validity of all the tables in the font file using Adobe Font Development Kit for OpenType tools, including a separate check of the outlines, plus the language coverage and Unicode values. Once the files pass these critical tests, a set of visual proofs are created and carefully examined. Among other things, this proofing includes creating waterfalls in order to check stem hints and alignment zones at a variety of sizes—both onscreen and in print—and glyph dumps to check shapes and accent/mark placement. Continue reading…

9:00 AM Permalink
September 8, 2012

New AFDKO Version Is Available!

The Adobe Type Team’s very own Read Roberts has been hard at work preparing a new version of AFDKO (Adobe Font Development Kit for OpenType), and posted the release earlier this month. It is Build 58732, dated September 4th, 2012, and is ready for public consumption. Be sure to read the detailed Release Notes for this new version. In particular, this release includes several important bug fixes for font developers who use AFDKO tools to build OpenType/TTF fonts, or fonts that include mark ‘GPOS’ lookups and/or the ‘GDEF’ table. In addition, the checkOutlines tool incorporates several important fixes for cases when it inadvertently reversed subpaths or removed the wrong subpath.
Continue reading…

9:09 AM Permalink
March 6, 2012

On Keyboard Layouts

An ANSI keyboard.

At the ATypI conference 2011 in Reykjavík, I gave a talk entitled “Pitfalls of Pi fonts.” This presentation was the culmination of a project that involved the creation of keyboard layouts for all of our dingbat fonts. The ultimate purpose of this project was the desire to replace obsolete Type 1 (T1) fonts with more current OpenType fonts (OTFs), which was necessary for various reasons, the most important of which being that T1 fonts lack proper Unicode information. On another hand, this shortcoming in the T1 font format was also its greatest advantage: virtually all the glyphs were easily accessible from the keyboard.
Continue reading…

8:00 AM Permalink
February 16, 2012

How much interest in AFDKO tools for other platforms?

The AFDKO (Adobe Font Development Kit for OpenType) tools are available only for Mac OS X and Windows, but we have heard some interest in having a Linux version as well. If you would use the AFDKO tools if a Linux version were available, or a version for some platform other than Mac OS X and Windows, please let us know, and for which environment. (Note that only binary versions would be supported for the near future, as the AFDKO tools contain some Adobe intellectual property.)


9:27 AM Permalink
October 18, 2010

Special opening in Adobe Type staff

Update: We’re excited to have hired not one but two new MA graduates, who’ll be starting at Adobe in January. Watch for a post introducing them later. I want to thank all the people who inquired about the position; it was an impressive group!

– David L

To help keep things fresh, Adobe Systems has a program dedicated to bringing in people just out of college. As part of this program, we now have the opportunity to add someone in the Type team. If you’ve just received your Masters degree or are in your final year, you might be the person we’re looking for. Continue reading…

8:53 AM Permalink
May 14, 2010

Introducing the "Tin" open source project…

[I’d like to preface this article by stating that it was written and contributed by our esteemed colleague, Daniel “daan” Strebe, who works in our Seattle office. – KL]

Please welcome Tin, Adobe’s newest open source project. Tin is a C++ source-code library for manipulating fonts based on the SFNT file format, such as TrueType and OpenType.

Continue reading…

5:42 PM Permalink
February 8, 2010

AFDKO Workshops

Next month I will be in Europe for two weeks, first in Reading, England, and then in The Hague, Netherlands. I will be giving a workshop that covers the various font development and testing tools we provide in the AFDKO*, to both the students of the MA in Typeface Design from the University of Reading, and the students of the Type & Media MA from The Royal Academy of Arts.

2008 workshop in progress in the Type & Media classroom (photo by Erik van Blokland)

Continue reading…

11:26 PM Permalink
August 29, 2009

IVS (Ideographic Variation Sequence) support in OSes

Finally. Yesterday, Friday, August 28th, 2009 is significant, at least for me, in that it represents the release date for Mac OS X Version 10.6 (aka, Snow Leopard). What is important about Snow Leopard is that it is the first OS that provides built-in support for IVSes (Ideographic Variation Sequences). Up until now, IVSes had been supported in specific Adobe products, such as Acrobat Version 9.0 and Adobe Reader Version 9.0 in the context of Forms, Flash Player Version 10, and InDesign CS4.

For those who are unaware of IVSes, they represent standardized Unicode behavior that allows otherwise unencoded variants of CJK Unified Ideographs to be represented using “plain text” that survives conditions that would cause rich text to fail. IVSes are registered via IVD (Ideographic Variation Database) Collections. The first IVD Collection to be registered at the end of 2007, was Adobe-Japan1, and is currently aligned with the Adobe-Japan1-6 character collection. See:

OpenType Japanese fonts can be IVS-enabled by building a Format 14 ‘cmap’ subtable. The AFDKO tools (in particular, MakeOTF and spot) are IVS-savvy, as well as DTL OTMaster (and the Light version).

5:55 AM Permalink
January 27, 2009

AFDKO 2.5 is released!

A new release of the FDK, AFDKO 2.5, has been posted at:

This release finally brings the FDK tools fully up to par with the OpenType specification. The most notable new features are that the FDK now fully supports all GSUB and GPOS lookup categories, and can apply the feature file directives to TTF source fonts to build TTF fonts with OpenType layout tables. The power of the FDK command-line tools can now be applied to building fonts for all scripts, including complex scripts such as Arabic and Indic.

AFDKO 2.5 also supports several of the newer OpenType features: user-friendly names for stylistic set features, and expanded lookup flag settings for use with mark classes. In addition, for CJK fonts, the tools now support Ideographic Variation Sequences (IVSes).

If you’re someone who builds or tests fonts, please try it out! (Installation is now working better as well, and there is a command file for Windows that avoids the earlier need to edit environment variables). Note that the AFDKO is tools are all command-line based, and and require some willingness to get technical.

– Read Roberts

10:16 PM Permalink
December 11, 2008

Text Layout Framework rasterization – and goodbye

I was recently asked regarding the Text Layout Framework for Flash and AIR: “It seems to be using system rasterizer (producing different results on Mac v Windows) but flattens output to grayscale. Is that correct? If so does/will Flash expose system rendering as an option or always use its own rasterizer? Or is the Text Layout Framework completely separate from Flash?”

Continue reading…

5:15 PM Permalink