January 21, 2014
Life is all about making good choices. Ernie March ponders the vast selection of Dijon mustards on display at an open-air market in Beaune, France, capital of the Burgundy wine region. After thoughtful consideration, he chose four delectable varieties to bring home. Selecting the tastiest condiments is nothing compared to the critical decisions Ernie makes daily in his role at Adobe. Photo by Ed Koizumi.
Ernest March, affectionately known as Ernie to friends and colleagues alike, does Quality Engineering and so much more for the Adobe Type team. Since he embarked on his typographic career in the 1980s, this self-titled “accidental type guy” has seen major upheavals in our field (and lived to tell the tale). Writer and typographer Tamye Riggs recently had a deliciously geeky chat with Ernie, and we asked her to share some highlights from his colorful past and present.
Ernie, you seem to wear a few different hats at Adobe. What’s your official title?
Senior Quality Engineer. I say that with a snicker in my voice because my dad was a mechanical engineer, and when I was going to college, he said, “Don’t be an engineer. It sucks.” So I went off to art school instead—180 degrees in the other direction. But even though I went to art school studying design and illustration, my job title still has engineer in it. They have to pinhole you into something—we tend not to take it too seriously.
Where did you go to college, and what did you study?
I went to Santa Clara University for my history degree. I was taking art classes as electives. I was enjoying it, and, as I got closer to graduation, I thought, what can I do with a history degree? I didn’t see myself teaching, so I thought, I’ll keep going to school. The head of the art department helped with my portfolio and I submitted it to Art Center in Pasadena. My portfolio was pretty piss-poor, but they let me in the door. You can actually train someone to be a decent artist! Continue reading…
November 6, 2013
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…