It all started late in 2009. The Adobe Type Team pointed to the fact that Unicode was moving towards standardizing emoji (emoticons common among Japanese mobile providers). They asked: How can we get this into fonts?
In the words of the inimitable Taro Yamamoto of Adobe Type, Japan, considering “the rather active and colorful nature of emoji,” we could not use Compact Font Format (CFF) or TrueType outlines. We needed a graphics format capable of richer expressiveness.
At the time, Flash was central to Adobe’s vision for mobile, so we planned to add a multimedia table to OpenType that could represent colored animated glyphs in Flash (SWF) or other media formats. Embedded SWF descriptions would be played within a security sandbox in Flash. We christened the table with the four-character tag ‘MUME’—a contraction for multimedia—and had fun with its pronunciation. Should it be mummy or moo me?
We never decided on that detail, because, since then, instead of moving forward with multiple media options, we converged on a single open standard format in which to define the glyphs: Scalable Vector Graphics (SVG), a part of HTML5. The table tag was simply ‘SVG ’ (note the trailing space). In October 2011, a W3C community group was formed to drive the project. Most of the specification work has taken place within the group, with help from the larger font community, including tool vendors. The work will be formally presented for font standardization in January 2014 at the Moving Picture Experts Group (MPEG) meeting in San Jose, California. Continue reading…