Variable fonts

Discussions about the development of TrueType and OpenType fonts.
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William
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Variable fonts

Post by William » Mon Nov 27, 2017 10:31 am

A few days ago I learned of the existence of variable fonts.

There was a post in the OpenType mailing list.

I have redacted the names of his two colleagues that he names as they were published in a closed mailing list.
In my talk at ATypI (video herehttps://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Pef_yujD4eM&t=1239s), I mentioned that I was working on creating an open process for people to propose design axes for registration, and for review and discussion of those proposals. That is done and ready for anyone to start participating.

For this process, I have created a project on GitHub: https://github.com/Microsoft/OpenTypeDe ... onAxisTags

To participate, you'll need a GitHub account.

The intent of the process is to end up with a set of registered design axes that are useful and that actually get used! In general, I think a smaller set of registered axes that get used will be more helpful for the type industry and for users than to have a lot of registered axes with many that are used infrequently.

The process is set up in a way that, hopefully, will lead to that result: an axis can't get registered without it getting discussed and unless there are commitments to use it.

Note that you'll always be able to use custom axes (per the OT spec, uppercase tags please!) in variable fonts. So, if you have something you want to use in your fonts but haven't found others that also want to use it, you won't be blocked.

Also note that registered axes don't necessarily have to be intended for use in variable fonts. Static, non-variable fonts can include a STAT table to describe relationships within a family, and design axis tags are used in that table.

For details on the process, follow the link above: it will take you to the README page for the project. And if you have questions, feel free to ask here or to privately contact me or my MS colleagues, [redacted here] or [redacted here].
There is a discussion about Windows 10 Fall update 17th October in the Serif lounge.

https://community.serif.com/discussion/ ... th-october

Most of that thread, interesting in its own right, is mostly not relevant here, but I did mention the Bahnschrift font that is bundled in with that update and there was a short discussion about variable fonts and a gentleman kindly provided an interesting link.

https://www.wired.com/2016/09/apple-goo ... c-history/

As I mentioned earlier in this post it was a few days ago that I learned of the existence of variable fonts.

What interests me is this.

I tried using the Bahnschrift font in the Serif PagePlus X7 desktop publishing program, the X7 version is not the latest version, that being X9 and development of PagePlus has now stopped.

The Bahnschrift font worked well in PagePlus X7.

Very good, but why? How?

Does installing a variable font automatically, in Windows 10 at-least-version-something, cause lots of "conventional" (for want of a better word at present), fonts to be generated locally, or what?

I have not yet actually installed a variable font myself. The Bahnschrift font was installed automatically during a Windows 10 update.

How does this all affect FontCreator development please?

Can we discuss variable fonts please?

William Overington

Monday 27 November 2017

Erwin Denissen
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Re: Variable fonts

Post by Erwin Denissen » Mon Nov 27, 2017 12:22 pm

Bahnschrift and all other variable fonts will behave like a "normal" font if variable fonts are not supported by the O.S. and/or applications.

We intend to add variable font support to FontCreator, but don't know when it becomes available.
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William
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Re: Variable fonts

Post by William » Mon Nov 27, 2017 4:52 pm

Hi Erwin

Thank you for your reply.

I have made a post to the OpenType list - in fact I sent it twice because I thought that it had not worked. Later I found both versions in a spam folder.

Oops.

Anyway, did you get a copy from the OpenType list or has it gone to your spam folder or maybe just gone?

I have asked some questions that hopefully will get replies helpful both to me and to some others.

William

William
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Re: Variable fonts

Post by William » Mon Nov 27, 2017 10:59 pm

I have found the following web page.

https://github.com/Microsoft/OpenTypeDe ... dOnAxes.md

I have found it very helpful.

It is linked from the following web page.

https://github.com/Microsoft/OpenTypeDe ... onAxisTags

William

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Re: Variable fonts

Post by Erwin Denissen » Tue Nov 28, 2017 8:55 am

William wrote:
Mon Nov 27, 2017 4:52 pm
Anyway, did you get a copy from the OpenType list or has it gone to your spam folder or maybe just gone?
I've received it. I've noticed you've already received answers to your questions.
Erwin Denissen
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William
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Re: Variable fonts

Post by William » Tue Nov 28, 2017 6:56 pm

Hi Erwin

> I've noticed you've already received answers to your questions.

Well, answers to some of them.

I have found the following web pages.

https://www.microsoft.com/typography/ot ... erview.htm

https://www.microsoft.com/typography/otspec/fvar.htm

They are within the OpenType specification.

https://www.microsoft.com/en-us/Typogra ... ation.aspx

William

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Re: Variable fonts

Post by William » Tue Nov 28, 2017 7:01 pm

I wanted to try to look at the Bahnschrift font uisng ViewHex to try to follow how the fvar table and other tables are constructed in the variable font.

So I tried to make a copy of the font from the Fonts directory to another folder so as not to risk spoiling the original, but I cannot seem to be able to copy the whole variable font, I just get copies of named instance fonts.

Am I doing it wrongly or does it just not work like that or is there something deliberately inhibiting copying?

William

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