Category Archives: Typography

REVIEW: Adobe Digital Publishing Suite

The Overlay Creator

The Overlay Creator panel is the DPS component that InDesign designers will spend most of their time in. The Overlay Creator panel, a plugin that works with InDesign CS5 and later, is the interface for adding multimedia and interaction to InDesign files for inclusion in digital publications. You can add a variety of interactive features to InDesign documents, not all of which are new to InDesign:

  • Image Sequences display multiple images, which has a variety of applications including time-lapse sequences, animated clips and 360-degree views. Image Sequences can auto-play or respond to user “scrubbing.”
  • Audio & Video insert audio and video assets into InDesign documents. Thanks to the multimedia features that have been added to InDesign in the past few years, adding audio and video is easy to do and the media controls generated by InDesign are good.
  • Hyperlink overlays will add links to your digital publications that link to online content, articles within the publication and more. Quick tip: Apple provides a method to write hyperlinks that send SMS text messages. Apple has a URL Scheme Reference that explains how to build these links.
  • Like the Image Sequence, the Slideshow overlay displays a slideshow in digital publications. Think of Slideshow as a traditional slideshow, incorporating InDesign elements including text and graphics, while Image Sequence is more of a “flip book” slideshow format with only images.
  • Pan & Zoom is one of my favorites, allowing users to pinch and expand images in digital publications. The designer has to think ahead when using Pan & Zoom and insert large images in their graphic frames. These can be scaled down to the desired default view, but the digital publication will retain the full-resolution image so it can be blown up when the user enlarges it. The DPS does not enlarge images on its own.
  • Panorama will combine multiple images into a panorama. This can be tricky because the user needs to load six photographs into InDesign with the right angle and order so it can be stitched together automatically. There are also some esoteric settings in the Overlay Creator including field of view and limit vertical pan. Reading through the instructions and a little playing around with the controls will help users grasp the Panorama overlay, and there are tutorials online for shooting images to be stitched into panoramas.
  • Web Content, which used to be called “Web View,” will embed online webpages or an HTML file within digital publications. It’s really surprising and very cool to see a webpage loaded in an InDesign publication, but it works and users can even interact with the webpage. The process is actually fairly easy to implement.

Creating interactivity with the Overlay Creator does a good job of condensing extensive interaction into a panel with a few settings, but I think Adobe’s development team can make the process more intuitive, particularly with bringing multimedia onto the page. The current InDesign has a lot of panels to sift through and the Overlay Creator adds quite a bit more chrome to the package. Keeping track of all the user interface elements involved with Overlay Creator was my biggest challenge, not bugs or a lack of interactive features.

The Folio Builder

The other component of DPS that resides in InDesign is the Folio Builder panel, where users combine articles into .folio files for publication and also finalize the document’s orientation. Working with articles and folios can be a mundane task but this part of the process is where designers can see their work on a tablet for the first time through the Content Viewer, an Adobe app available on the desktop or on the Apple App Store, Android Market, BlackBerry App World and for webOS.

Articles can be pulled from multiple documents, so you can build a horizontal and vertical version of a publication and combine it into one app in the Folio Builder. Creating two versions of a publication is not ideal, but it’s necessary if you want a publication that changes orientation properly. Adobe seems to be at least on the right track in creating “liquid layouts” in InDesign that will re-orient themselves depending on the orientation, which would be a wonderful new feature. Here’s a demo of the technology at Adobe MAX.

Adding articles and pushing folios up to the Content Viewer is most of what the Folio Builder does, but there are also some sharing features which I think is very important in a production environment. The Folio Builder panel’s menu has a Share option which will let users share a publication with other users who have an Adobe ID. You can also append a subject and message to the share notice. This is very useful but I would also like an interface in the DPS website where you can set up groups of multiple users so you can grant rights and share folios with groups of people at once. This is what I do when developing Facebook applications. Even though you can share to multiple individuals at once in Folio Builder, groups and shared rights make collaboration easier.

Day 1 Announcements From Adobe MAX: TypeKit, PhoneGap, WoodWing and DPS Single Edition

Adobe Acquires TypeKit and PhoneGap

Adobe has bought TypeKit and made the web font service a part of their Adobe Creative Cloud’s services. Jeffrey Veen came on stage and talked about the challenges of fonts on the web but showed how some websites are achieving very professional typography now through Adobe technology. I’ll agree to that—I use TypeKit on my own websites, and it’s easy to deploy and works across all browsers.

Jeffrey also said almost 60 foundries contribute to TypeKit. This includes Adobe, but they don’t offer the entire 2,300-font Adobe Type Library. Maybe that will come later. Jeffrey demoed some new features of the TypeKit website, such as rendering previews to show how fonts will look in different browsers and easier search tools.

I wonder what will happen to current TypeKit customers. Will they have to buy the Adobe Creative Cloud to maintain their websites’ fonts? I hope not, and I don’t think that would be practical for TypeKit’s users.

Adobe also announced the acquisition of Nitobi Software, which produces the popular PhoneGap platform for building mobile apps for multiple platforms including Android and iOS. PhoneGap leverages HTML5 and JavaScript, so I expect this would be rolled into Dreamweaver, Adobe’s HTML-editing software.

WoodWing Moves Users to Adobe Digital Publishing Suite

This announcement might have surprised me the most today. WoodWing Software, whose editorial workflow products allow for digital publishing to tablets and devices, has entered an agreement with Adobe to incorporate their Digital Publishing Suite with WoodWing’s Enterprise Publishing System. The Digital Publishing Suite will now be the only option for WoodWing customers to publish to tablets.

It sounds like WoodWing’s editorial and designer workflow will remain pretty much the same: users will use their Content Station and InDesign plugin to build the digital editions. At that point, .folio files will be created and uploaded to Adobe’s Digital Publishing Suite platform for packaging, distribution, monetization and analytics. WoodWing’s Reader Application and Content Delivery Service are ended effective immediately. Customers will transition to the Digital Publishing Suite by November 2012.

Digital Publishing Suite Now Available In Single Editions

If you’ve wanted to publish a one-shot digital publication or a book, you’ll be happy to know Adobe today announced the Single Edition in the Digital Publishing Suite. The service, which takes interactive InDesign documents to the iPad, has until now been an enterprise-priced service for large companies and big periodical publications. Now companies can pay for just a single publication and get all of the Digital Publishing Suite’s features, including distribution through the Apple App Store, monetization and analytics.

It will cost $395 per publication, which immediately establishes it as a business product. Single Edition is not for people wanting to publish a family memento or maybe a church cookbook—but niche publications could very well benefit from its features.

99 Free Valentine’s Day Fonts

99 Ways to Type I Love You

Download fonts individually below, or download all 99 in a single 2.75MB Zip archive.

NOTE: Fonts are all TrueType format, compatible with Windows and Mac OS X. To convert them for Mac OS 9 and below, download this free utility: TTConverter15.hqx.

images101HangYourHeart.ttf

101HangYourHeart (90,864 bytes)

images101HeartCatcher.ttf

101HeartCatcher (89,400 bytes)

images101HeartFramed.ttf

101HeartFramed (181,972 bytes)

images101HeartStringZ.ttf

101HeartStringZ (33,972 bytes)

images101LoveGarden.ttf

101LoveGarden (32,668 bytes)

images101LovePoP.ttf

101LovePoP (52,912 bytes)

images101SWAK.ttf

101SWAK (140,480 bytes)

images101WalkinHeart.ttf

101WalkinHeart (29,504 bytes)

images4MyLover.ttf

4MyLover (36,072 bytes)

imagesALLHEART.TTF

ALLHEART (48,992 bytes)

imagesAngel.ttf

Angel (33,648 bytes)

imagesAosval_2.ttf

Aosval_2 (16,692 bytes)

imagesApheart.ttf

Apheart (8,436 bytes)

imagesBeMyValentine.ttf

BeMyValentine (85,812 bytes)

imagesCandyHeart.ttf

CandyHeart (80,448 bytes)

imagesCandyKiss.ttf

CandyKiss (43,968 bytes)

imagesCLBValentine.ttf

CLBValentine (49,824 bytes)

imagesCoffeeTalk1.ttf

CoffeeTalk1 (34,488 bytes)

imagesCountryHearts.ttf

CountryHearts (51,888 bytes)

imagesCraftopiaLove.ttf

CraftopiaLove (26,884 bytes)

imagesCupid.ttf

Cupid (45,460 bytes)

imagesCupids.ttf

Cupids (109,132 bytes)

imagesDeepLove1.ttf

DeepLove1 (138,688 bytes)

imagesDJLove.ttf

DJLove (42,536 bytes)

imagesFancyHeartScript.ttf

FancyHeartScript (68,436 bytes)

imagesFiolexGirls.ttf

FiolexGirls (78,228 bytes)

imagesFLHeartDark.ttf

FLHeartDark (100,696 bytes)

imagesFlowerHeart.ttf

FlowerHeart (77,140 bytes)

imagesfts12.ttf

fts12 (51,068 bytes)

imagesGabrielsAngels.ttf

GabrielsAngels (195,720 bytes)

imagesHAfont.ttf

HAfont (217,084 bytes)

imageshamlake.ttf

hamlake (87,876 bytes)

imagesHamLakeRegular.ttf

HamLakeRegular (37,396 bytes)

Adobe MAX: Digital Publishing Suite

The unveiling of the Digital Publishing Suite (DPS) at Adobe MAX interested me more than any other news, since I am a developer who’s also a print designer and I’ve worked heavily with print publications in the past. Unfortunately, we’ve known about the DPS for some time—having had a sneak peek of Condé Nast’s WIRED Reader and The New Yorker months ago—and we still need to wait for the DPS to actually be available to buy next spring (you can use it now through the prerelease program though). However, Adobe revealed a lot and I’ve been looking at the material from both the designer and developer perspective.

InDesign has changed little

I had expected more tools or changes to the publication designer’s workflow, but this isn’t really the case. Everyone should note the Digital Publishing Suite is a set of new services and AIR applications, and there’s just one plugin to add to InDesign CS5, which is required. The best demo of the DPS/InDesign workflow I’ve seen is this one from Terry White, and there is really no changes to InDesign itself. The main points to remember are:

  • Design for the iPad’s 1024×768 screen. This is already available when a document’s Intent is set for Web in the New Document dialog box.
  • Build one InDesign file per article, and horizontal and vertical versions for each if you want it to change with the iPad’s orientation.
  • InDesign’s interactive features are supported, such as hyperlinks and rollovers, but not its rich media features such as video. An AIR app, Adobe Interactive Overlay Creator, can be used to generate this media and the resulting SWF files can be placed in InDesign. These SWFs are converted to iPad-friendly media when the document is bundled.

Creating horizontal and vertical version of your publications is a mild nuisance but it is optional—the Adobe Content Viewer allows for single-orientation publications. Having to create a document for every article and ad seems very cumbersome. I think segmenting one document into sections—already an InDesign feature—would be a great way to keep everything in one file and still separate articles and ads for use on the iPad.

After a document is bundled and prepared for iPad, it will be viewed on iPad with the Adobe Content Viewer. It should be noted this is designed to work with several tablets, including Android tablets and the upcoming RIM Playbook (shown in the MAX Day 1 keynote) as well as the desktop via an AIR app.

The rest of the suite

The meat of the Digital Publishing Suite is in its various services:

  • Production Service takes the InDesign document and makes the final assembly, including the addition of metadata and export to a variety of formats including HTML5. This includes the Adobe Digital Content Bundler app, which Adobe plans to integrate into the hosted service.
  • Distribution Service stores documents in the cloud and distributes the content to the Adobe Content Viewer. This includes a dashboard for library content and reader notifications.
  • E-Commerce Service monetizes the enterprise on retailer platforms or mobile marketplaces such as the Apple App Store or the new Adobe InMarket (also announced at MAX).
  • Analytics Service, supported by Adobe SiteCatalyst/Omniture, provides an impressive analytics dashboard including not only general page views and trends but also the way readers view and read the publication.

A full list can be found in this PDF.

The price

The big news should be the large price tag associated with the Digital Publishing Suite. The cheaper Professional Edition is US$699 per month on top of a per-issue fee that is based on volume. The Enterprise is a totally customized solution that gives publishers total access to the API and integration with back-end services like subscription management, but it’s a negotiated cost with Adobe and constitutes a multi-year agreement.

I think a lot of people hoped to build iPad publications with InDesign when they saw the WIRED Reader hit the Intenet a few months ago—imagine using File > Export > iPad just as easily as exporting to PDF! It would have probably been that easy if Apple allowed Flash on the iPad. Unfortunately, this isn’t the case and along with the iPad conversion there’s also the leveraging of Adobe’s purchase of Omniture and the inclusion of its analytics in the DPS. All this makes the suite far removed from the cheap and simple export some people might have hoped for. Instead, it’s priced for serious publishers and its focus on analytics, distribution and e-commerce shows it’s been developed for the business side of publishing.

Adobe tells me they expect to put a reseller program in place so DPS customers can resell the service to smaller publishers and independents at a cheaper price. There’s no details on this yet but it’s good to see Adobe at least thinking about how to penetrate the small and mid-sized publisher market. I know there’s a lot of potential there, as the publishing business in general is full of small publishers and self-publishers.

Participate now

If you want to try the Digital Publishing Suite now, visit Adobe Labs and download the package. You can also learn more by visiting the Digital Publishing page on Adobe.com.

Free Thanksgiving Fonts


Free Thanksgiving Fonts from Designorati

In addition to all the wonderful things in our lives to be thankful for this season—loved ones, health, happiness, and Designorati—we thought you might also like to give thanks for some free* Thansgiving fonts.

Note: Fonts are Windows TrueType format. To convert for Mac OS X and below, download this free utility: TTConverter15.hqx.

101PunkinPie.ttf

101! Punkin Pie 96,364 bytes

4YEOT___.TTF

4YEOT 160,980 bytes

ChefTurkey.ttf

Chef Turkey 125,624 bytes

Edbindia.ttf

Edbindia 72,700 bytes

KRTurkeyTime.ttf

KR Turkey Time 33,120 bytes

LMSPostThanksgivingShopping.ttf

LMS Post-Thanksgiving Shopping 105,528 bytes

LMSPuritanPartyHats.ttf

LMS Puritan Party Hats 30,032 bytes

Pf_pumpkin2.ttf

Pf_pumpkin-2 37,832 bytes

Pf_turkey_thanksgiving.ttf

Pf_turkey_thanksgiving 151,860 bytes

Pf_turkey2.ttf

Pf_turkey-2 399,992 bytes

PilgrimHats.ttf

Pilgrim Hats 25,428 bytes

THANKS1.TTF

THANKS1 10,584 bytes

Thanksgiving.ttf

Thanksgiving 56,208 bytes

*   All fonts were found on the Internet on websites or newsgroups identifying them as “freeware” and/or “public domain”. Any documentation or “read me”-type files that accompanied the fonts from their sources have been preserved. All files are packaged exactly as they were found. If a font presented here may not be legally distributed via this collection, the author and/or trademark holder is requested to contact us here prepared to establish his/her identity, legal ownership of the material in question, and to request removal of the material from this collection.

And don’t miss the 300+ free Halloween fonts!

REVIEW: InDesign CS4 and InCopy CS4


InDesign CS4 box

Some of the CS4 applications I’ve reviewed have been somewhat disappointing (Photoshop) while others have turned out to be radical upgrades with varying degrees of success (Dreamweaver, Flash). InDesign CS4 is, in my opinion, one of the best upgrades in CS4 suite: none of its new features really miss the mark, and most of them are quite useful (and a few are excellent advances in InDesign’s evolution). In my daily work I use InDesign CS4 more than probably any other Adobe application, and it has been a treat to use.

The new preflight paradigm

I have to begin my review with Live Preflight, InDesign CS4′s new method for preflighting documents. For twenty years, designers have put together their print layouts only to preflight at the very end, looking for RGB images, missing fonts and other errors that would ruin the final output. We used to use a third-party program like Markzware’s Flightcheck to preflight files before output, and then a few years ago InDesign incorporated native preflight technology. However, both these preflight options were manually run by the designer after the work was done.


InDesign CS4 Preflight panel

Live Preflight alone makes InDesign CS4 an upgrade worth considering—catching one printing error can practically pay for itself.

Live Preflight checks documents for output problems constantly, while the designer is laying out pages. There’s a simple display at the bottom of the document window listing the number of errors (unfortunately, InDesign CS4 does not highlight the actual page element causing the error) and from here one can also set or revise the profile InDesign CS4 uses to analyze the document. It’s an easy process to revise profiles with the Preflight Profiles dialog box—just check what InDesign needs to look for, and set the numbers accordingly. I use preflight profiles to check my layouts going to the web, newsprint or magazines. Live Preflighting has changed the way I work and all I can think is, “Why didn’t anyone think of this sooner?”

Advances in the user interface


InDesign CS4 Links panel

The Links panel has seen major changes in InDesign CS4. Some new features haven’t been too useful for me, but on average it is a welcome improvement.

Adobe made news with the major revisions in the CS4 interface, but InDesign CS4 went quite a bit further with its own additions to its user interface:

  • A Smart Cursor heads-up display shows your X-Y coordinates as you move and transform items with the selection tools.
  • Smart Guides appear when dragging elements around and allow for extremely simple alignment, spacing and resizing moves in relation to other elements. Smart Guides will show you when objects are evenly spaced, aligned or other attributes usually controlled by the Align panel. I hardly use the Align panel anymore, thanks to Smart Guides. However, I’ve found that in layouts with many elements Smart Guides will snap you to align with things you don’t want to align to. The workaround to this is to zoom in so all you see on screen are the elements that need to be aligned: Smart Guides only pay attention to elements in the current view. However, sometimes I am aligning objects across a large cross-section of the layout and other elements hamper my efforts—in this case I just turn off Smart Guides and use the Align panel to make it work.
  • The Links panel has been redesigned to show a lot more information, such as the page where the link instances resides, attributes (scale, resolution, layer and others), metadata and more. Link thumbnails are particularly effective, as is the ability to show only one instances of the link in the Links panel—if you have 50 instances of a logo, listing it once rather than 50 times saves a lot of space. The new Links panel, by default, has more detail than I usually need, but it’s customizable through the panel’s flyout menu (look for Panel Options) so it’s a good improvement overall.


InDesign CS4 Smart Guides align

Smart Guides can align elements…


InDesign CS4 Smart Guides spacing

…and space them uniformly. Check out the green arrows.

I really like these UI improvements—the InDesign development team was really thinking when they put this batch of features together.

Conditional text and cross-references

The conditional text and cross-referencing features are all about streamlining multiple elements and versioning of InDesign documents, and though my clients and I have not yet found a need for this I do think it’s a good duo of features for the right designers.


InDesign CS4 conditional text

The Conditional Text panel allows designers to make different document versions in one file.

Conditional text in InDesign CS4 allows designers to tag text so it appears if a certain condition is met. This replaces the common practice of placing text blocks on different layers and showing/hiding them to create different versions on the fly. The new Conditional Text panel looks similar to the Layers panel, and it’s from here that you apply a condition (or conditions) to selected text. This is a wonderful feature for those creating multiple versions of the same document, whether for release in multiple countries and states or for multiple audiences.

Cross-referencing basically makes selected text into a symbol (to borrow Flash lingo) that can be applied as instances elsewhere in the document—change the original symbol and all the instances change along with it. I get more use out of cross-referencing because publication design almost always uses multiple instances of titles, headings, chapter titles and so on. However, I find that cross-references (and hyperlinks, which share the same panel) are difficult to use. One can’t simply select text and make it a cross-reference: it has to be a text anchor (created in the Hyperlinks panel) or styled with a particular paragraph style, and even then it’s a difficult process to master. If you revise all the text in a cross-reference, for example, the cross-reference will not update automatically—but the cross-reference itself is maintained. This is actually by design—cross-referenced text can be formatted and edited, and still retain its cross-reference—but it is a complex function that requires some study.

Got A Browser Open? You Can Make A Font!

A mention in Slate can really make a rising star.

Recently debuted, FontStruct, from FontShop International, is a free web-based application that allows even the tyro to make fonts, download them to their system, and share them. It is a very basic tool that nonetheless allows for a great number of variations in style and look. It has its limits, but those who just like playing with fonts, regardless of the level of aptitude, will probably have a great time creating with it.

The author of the Slate article wrote so eloquently about it that the site went down with a non-Slashdot Slashdot. It’s back up now and … it’s pretty nifty.

FontStrtuctor

The author plays with FontStruct’s FontStructor web application

How does it work? The word for the day is “blocks”.

Playing With Building Blocks

The FontStructor (where one constructs their fonts, or, in the argot of the interfact, “FontStructions”) is a very simple thing; a large grid paper, with the left margin and the baseline clearly marked and with the lower-left origin marked with a red dot.

The left sidebar contains a scrollable box of blocks. These blocks, combined with the simple toolbox, are scattered about on the graph paper, much as one would fill in blocks on a piece of graph paper with a pencil. The toolbox and zoom control appear on floating palettes within the interface, giving the whole thing a rather familiar and comforting feel; anyone who’s used just about any bit of graphics software developed in the last decade or so will find the whole thing very wonderfully intuitive and figure it out pretty quickly

Toolbox and Interface: Just What You Need

The toolbox only contains some basic tools that are nonetheless appropriate for working within the paradigm: the pencil fills individual blocks, the line draws a line of them (holding down the mouse button whilst dragging gives a ‘ghost’ image that allows for more precise placement); the rectangle tools allows you to drag a rectangle which will then fill with the selected blocks, the hand tool allows for dragging the view about, and the eraser tool … well, it erases.

Zooming is also controlled by a simple slider on a floating control palette. Advanced controls are another palette, which allows you to control scaling of the blocks for creating different effects.

The blocks sidebar, previously mentioned, not only holds all the blocks available for contstruction as well as another window that shows only the blocks used int he current character, which assists in consistent construction. Also another advanced feature that helps in this wise is the ability to turn on ghost images of adjacent glyphs.

Just as notable as what it does do is what it doesn’t do; you don’t set hints, or kerning pairs, or any real professional-level attributes and features. The fonts you download are TrueType which, these days, seems to be much less of a design deal-breaker than it once was. But the limitations are perfectly reasonable within the offerings of the web app, which allows the user to pretty much design whatever they want to within the limits of the block canon (our tour included font sets that were Mexian wrestler (luchadore) masks, which were quite cool indeed. We imagine that funky character and symbol sets may exist there; the library is quite large!

Free For the People

The FontStruct website is available at no cost to register and use; the only requirement is that you have a capable browser. Once there, you can create, save, and share at will; part of the allure of the site is community, where you can have your font voted on.

FontShop, of course, has an angle into its own creation, offering fonts that you just can’t get the modular way. But the ads are restrained and though not obtrusive, easy to find.

Even the most sophisticated designer will sometime get out a basic tool to see where creativity happens. FontStruct is cool in this way. We can see where one might prototype on it during a slack time and download the result for work in a more advanced program. Amateur font enthusiasts will find a big fun playground that doesn’t require intensive knowledge and is easy to learn; more advanced amateurs will find a tool which they might have fun pushing the boundaries of and a group of people to share and get inspired by.

We think FontStruct is a great deal of fun. Find it here.

Are You Down With Adobe Font Installation? Thomas Phinney Wants To Know.

Is the way Adobe Creative Suite installs new versions of fonts your cup of coffee? Thomas Phinney wants to hear from you on this.

What we’re concerned about is overwrite behavior. Up to and including the CS3 applications, we have always blindly overwritten any identically-named font files with the versions in the installer. Usually this results in newer fonts being installed over older ones. On some occasions, this could have some kind of compatibility impact. We expect noticeable document reflow to be very rare, but doubtless it will happen in some cases.

His post on his blog, Typblography, is here. It’s a concern of ours as well, because we’ve experienced the problem he cites down the article a bit from there.

The survey is short and won’t take much time, and there is ample opportunity for comment. You can find the link at the end of the post linked above, or if you just love surveys and want to get to it, go here. Adobe is famously attentive to user concerns, and whenever Adobe asks us our opinion, we give it, and so should you.

Type is Tres Chic

Lucky magazine (http://luckymag.com) is an upmarket lifestyle monthly, one that styles itself The Magazine of Shopping and Style. In glorious color and replete with beautiful people modeling the latest fashions, one would think that it would appeal to, if anyone, more a layout artist than a typographer. But there is a treat this month of the typophile.

Lucky magazine type couture Article Illo

Type as style: Lucky Magazine, March 2008, page 74

On page 74 of the March 2008 issue, illustrated on the cover by a photo of a vibrant Rachel Bilson, is a single-page article naming a trend in the making – typography.

Page 74 gives us six high-style examples of how type is breaking into high fashion; A dress by the Vena Cava house; a jewelry designer’s ring, made completely from letterforms; a Hera silk dress, whose mosaic-like patter is made up the negative space between glyphs; a John Derian decoupage tray whose design is made of eighteen of the twenty-six essential Roman glyphs (which “looks like it was taken from the turn-of-the-century print shop”); a pillow based on an Alexander Girard typographic wallpaper; and a “drapey” women’s top with a yoke sprinkled with miniscules.

The article itself is a simple and rather insightful paragraph:

Letters and number are perhaps the most iconic graphic elements of all, which means they can project any kind of mood; Depending on the design, they can call to mind the kidlike charm of a classroom or the bold heraldry of old-school signage …

We might have some gentle quarrel with some of the high-flying language but not the meaning; Lucky‘s editor “gets” what those of us who love type have known for a very long time now: mere type is more than marks on a page. It projects a mood, has emotional resonance, and most of all, has interest.

The fashions are not for the budget-minded; the pillow alone will run you $79, and the Vena Cava dress and jacket (at $610 and #495 respectively) could kit the aspirant purchaser out with a mid-level Wintel laptop. But we think the entry of type onto the radar screens of at least one trendspotter is the indication of a possible trend that is, in and of itself, worth spotting.

If The Semicolon Can Make It There, It Can Make It Anywhere

Seen around the web today, and chiefly via The New York Times, an old friend in the punctuation line, the humble semicolon, has received a perhaps-overdue spotlight. Said the Times:

It was nearly hidden on a New York City Transit public service placard exhorting subway riders not to leave their newspaper behind when they get off the train.

“Please put it in a trash can,” riders are reminded. After which Neil Neches, an erudite writer in the transit agency’s marketing and service information department, inserted a semicolon. The rest of the sentence reads, “that’s good news for everyone.”

The mere inclusion of a punctuation mark has garnered plaudits and raves from such people as Lynne Truss (Eats, Shoots & Leaves), Geoffrey Nunberg (linguistics professor at UC Berkeley), and even notice from Noam Chomsky.

Who knew the correct and elegant use of a single punctuation mark would generate such fervor?

Make sure and read the whole article here, including a not-to-be-missed and ironically-funny correction at the end made necessary because the Times‘s writer inadvertently correctly punctuated the title of Lynne Truss’s book.

Extensis Unveils Universal Type Server

Today at MacWorld Conference and Expo in San Francisco, Extensis, makers of Suitcase and Font Reserve, as well as Suitcase Server X1 and Font Reserve Server, will unveil an all new server-based font management system. Universal Type Server (UTS) runs on Windows and Macintosh servers, connects to Windows and Mac (PPC and Intel) clients, includes all the best features of both Suitcase Server and Font Reserve Server, and is faster than you ever imagined a font manager could be.

Let me establish something right off the bat: I dig the latest versions of Extensis Suitcase–Fusion (version 12) on Mac OSX and Suitcase for Windows (version 11). They aren’t perfect, and I have my gripes. For instance choosing between activating fonts permanently or only until the system is rebooted requires remembering a keyboard shortcut or changing a preference every single time a font is activated. (Do you know how many keyboard shortcuts the average designer has to remember?! Well, yeah, I suppose you do.) Although not perfect, the current versions of Suitcase fit my font management needs better than any other font manager on either platform. For many of the publishing and production workflows I’ve optimized or consulted upon, Suitcase Server is also the best available solution.

Sure, Suitcase takes a moment or two to startup on standalone desktops and even longer to make connections with a Suitcase Server. Of course there’s an ever so slight delay between changing a preview type or size and seeing the change reflected in the preview pane. Adding more than a couple of new fonts takes time, too, naturally–sometimes quite a lot of time–but then, Suitcase is not only indexing the fonts but analyzing them as well, storing them in the Vault for protection (if the user has enabled that feature). Fonts pushed to clients from the server will get there sometime in the next few minutes. Heck, for all the little pauses and delays, Suitcase does it’s job pretty quickly. I had come to terms with that fact, with using the delays as an opportunity to rest my eyes, stretch my legs, or sip my coffee. I was comfortable with all that. I was grateful that Suitcase and Suitcase Server work as fast as they do.

Then, I saw Universal Type Server.

Faster than a Speeding Bullet Glyph

Do you remember when you upgraded from a 56k modem to broadband Internet access? Whether you logged on for that first marvelous moment at the office or home, surely you remember the awestruck grin that slowly split your face from ear to ear as the Web was suddenly just there. No waiting. No picture placeholders to eventually be replaced by pictures. One second Yahoo.com or NYTimes.com or Creativepro.com wasn’t there, the next it was. If you’re like me, in that moment you felt like thrusting your fist into air and yawping in triumph, shouting to Mount Olympus: “I… have… the power!”

Oh, yeah, seeing Extensis’ Universal Type Server the first time is like that.

Built from the ground up as a whole new server/client font management system, UTS is a blazingly fast Java-based server fronting an ultra stable, light-overhead SQL database. It’s completely cross-platform, with the Universal Type Server running on Windows- or Mac-powered servers and connecting to either or both Windows- and Mac-hosted Universal Type Clients. For Macs, both UTS and UTC are Universal Binaries, running under either PowerPC or Intel processors. It’s the use of modern, open architecture technologies that enables the speed.

The client starts up instantly. No delay. It’s just there. Fonts are activated or deactivated in a blink. And font previews? Truly real time live previews. Change the preview text or point size and the preview window updates without even a fraction of a second delay. And, that’s not just fonts on the local computer. That’s with fonts from the server. Instantaneous previews across the network, without the fonts installed or locally cached. New fonts are analyzed, indexed, and added before I can find a distant object to rest my eyes upon.

I was shown a stable beta version and cautioned that it might not be as fast as the shipping release. That notion makes me laugh out loud. How much faster can you get than instantaneous?

Suitcase is a 56k dialup modem. It’s screaming fast, but only until someone builds a broadband font manager. Universal Type Server is a broadband connection. When UTS is released this spring it will break the speed limit you didn’t even know was slowing you down.

A Classically Sleek Chassis Meets Superior Handling

UTS client on Mac

[Click image to zoom] Universal Type Client running on Mac OSX.

At first glance the Universal Type Client looks very much like the current versions of Suitcase. All my favorite parts are there. Multiple panes provide concurrent access to user- or administrator-built font sets, font details with configurable data columns, and the preview pane. New is the Attributes pane, which lets the user classify fonts by classification, keyword, foundry, file type, and/or style directly in the main application rather than through clumsy pop-up dialog boxes. Just select one or more fonts (contiguous or not), and check the box beside the keyword, style, or other desired attribute in the Attributes pane. Assuming that your UTS administrator has given you permission to affect font attributes, the new data is added to the SQL database and instantly reflected on the server and all clients connected to it. The font list can even be filtered and sorted by any of the attributes. Spotlight-like live search enables rapid searching of a large list of fonts for a particular name, class, foundry, or family.

Gone are the New Set, Add, Remove, Activate, Deactivate, and Attributes buttons from Suitcase’s toolbar. In their place are the three most important buttons–Activate (permanently), Temp Activate (until system restart or until disconnecting from the server), and Deactivate. Finally! Permanent and temporary activation options have been restored to one-click simplicity. The Attributes pane takes care of managing font attributes while the other functions have been moved to the menu bar. Fonts can also be added via drag and drop if enabled for the user.

Connecting to the server is simple and can be done on the local network or across the Internet, which will help remote and traveling employees keep fonts in synch with the office. Server administrators can even allow fonts to be copied to client systems so workers can use them without maintaining a live connection. (So much for relaxing on that long flight.)

UTC includes the Font Sense auto-activation plug-ins for Adobe InDesign CS2/CS3 and Illustrator CS2/CS3 and QuarkXPress 6.5/7 that have become standard with Suitcase, but there’s a new feature by popular request–auto-activation even if the UTC isn’t running. According to Extensis, many customers complain that they must keep Suitcase running in memory to maintain access to fonts. UTC no longer requires the application to be running. If non-active fonts are required upon opening a document in one of the supported applications, the auto-activation plug-in or xtension will call to the Universal Type Client, activate the needed font, and then close the client, freeing any system resources it would otherwise consume. Support for auto-activation from within Adobe InCopy is planned for a future release.

Common Server Sense

The Universal Type Client is excellent, a clean, uncluttered interface with agile steering and plenty of horsepower (I did mention it’s fast, right?). But the real difference between the UTS/UTC system and Extensis’ current font management offerings is on the server.

Suitcase Server and Font Reserve Server are applications nearly identical to their clients. They run on a server consuming system resources they shouldn’t. Does the average design or production workflow need advanced font management for use on the server itself? Of course not; no one designs on the server. Instead, a font management server should be light, easy to configure, and focused on the tasks of administering users and their access to fonts. That’s Universal Type Server.

UTS Main Screen

[Click image to zoom] The Universal Type Server main interface showing workgroups, roles, users, and permissions.

UTS is a complete break from past server font managers. It’s entirely Web-based, making it accessible on the server itself as well as remotely from any authorized workstation or mobile device. An art director working on a project can create font sets and assign them to users from her own desk while the IT department keeps the server itself safely under lock and key. In fact, an administrator can access the server from anywhere in the world via the Internet. Need the intern authorized on the Acme account fonts at 11 PM? Call the production manager at home. (Managers and directors remember to turn off your cells on vacation!)

O’Reilly’s Fonts & Encodings Book Offers Much For Web Designers Too

fonts-encodings

If you haven’t read Samuel John Klein’s review of Fonts & Encodings, click here and take a look at the full range of this book. This article here is not another review, but a more detailed look at one particular chapter that will be interesting to web designers: Chapter 10, “Fonts and Web Pages.” I consider myself a typophile but I am also a web designer, and rarely do the two disciplines ever meet due to the limitations of the Internet, with its user-controlled presentation and weak typographic controls (it has gotten better with CSS, but it is still far away from the controls one has in print apps like InDesign).

The dilemma of type and web design

We web designers are in this predicament because a typeface is the only element of a webpage that does not actually belong to the author of that page: the font of that typeface is licensed, and while you can use it as needed you cannot distribute it freely, in the same way purchasing a license of Photoshop does not allow you to distribute it to whoever you wish. The webpage visitors needs his own legal copy of the font in order to display it in his/her browser. Technology has tried to get around this in three ways:

  • Tags: HTML, XHTML and CSS offer tags for font selection and formatting. While this gives the designer some control over typography, it still requires the end user to have the font handy either on his/her computer or downloaded from the Internet (more on this later).
  • Plug-ins: Microsoft, Bitstream and em2 Solutions have all produced plug-ins that enable browsers to pull the fonts they need to display webpages. This is maybe the best solution for displaying fonts perfectly but each plug-in has its limitations and requirements.
  • SVG: Adobe’s Scalable Vector Graphics format is emerging as a new W3C-supported standard for defining type geometry. It’s a promising alternative to plug-ins but not all browsers support it.

Each technological solution has its pros and cons. Let’s look at each one.

Tags mean nothing to fussy browsers

I’m sure many of you already know of or already use CSS so I won’t waste time here with typographic rules from CSS1 and CSS2 (if you don’t know anything about CSS, click here for a primer). Fonts & Encodings focuses on CSS3, the latest iteration of CSS that really comes into its own in terms of typographic rules. Here are some up-and-coming CSS rules:

  • font-size-adjust: When a preferred typeface is not available, this rule will change the type size on the fly so the font substitution still produces close to the same x-height on the page. For instance, the book shows that if your preferred typeface for a page is Centaur (which has an x-height of 0.366) and the substitution font will be the system’s serif typeface (usually Times) then specify the font-family as "Centaur", serif and font-size-adjust as .366, then when performing the substitution the browser will calculate what size Times should be displayed in so it has the same x-height as Centaur.
  • font-stretch: This controls the characters’ horizontal scale. You can use keywords from ultra-condensed to ultra-expanded and everything in between.
  • font-effect: Emboss, engrave, or outline type.
  • font-smooth: Smooth characters’ edges, similar to anti-aliasing. This one can actually make type look worse at small sizes, so a font can be set to smooth only when larger than certain sizes.
  • font-emphasize-style and font-emphasize-position: These two rules apply to ideographic languages (Japanese, Chinese and Korean) and allow use of the ideographic emphasis mark, a small circle placed next to a glyph to show emphasis. These marks are similar to the Western bold and italic for showing emphasis. These two rules control the style and placement of these marks.

All these CSS3 rules are wonderful, but I regret to inform you that none of these are supported by any web browser as of yet. It is yet another case of real-world technology not quite up to speed with the specifications being created by the W3C and other groups. I’m sure we will see these rules in a few years, but not now.

Now on to the fonts themselves: did you know CSS3 allows for controlled font substitutions, font downloading and even on-demand font synthesis? It’s true, and Fonts & Encodings shows how:

  • Substitutions (in CSS3) can do much more than just swap one font for another. You can actually place a typeface’s stem heights, slope, cap-height, x-height and other measurements along with its Panone-1 classification, and browsers that understand the code can select a local font that matches the data or comes close. If you don’t know what a Panose-1 classification is, pick up the book at your local bookstore and check Chapter 11 (hint: Panose-1 classifications look something like “2 0 5 3 0 0 0 2 0 4″).
  • Download a font with a simple src URL. This is easy enough to execute and takes the least code.
  • Synthesizing a font takes place within the browser, where data on units per em, bounding box coordinates and specific Unicode character widths are processed and used to create a typeface that fits the webpage. The best analogy for this process is PDF: a PDF that doesn’t have its fonts embedded will substitute Adobe Sans or Adobe Serif, modifying the characters’ widths and geometry so it fits the page correctly.

This is wonderful technology, but browsers do not yet support it as far as I can tell. In conclusion, tags are slowly developing as a robust method to control type in webpages but it has not been successfully implemented yet.

Plug-ins for downloading fonts

The idea of downloading fonts is not new: plug-ins have been available for awhile that do basically the same concept you see in the CSS3 method above. The idea is to download an encrypted font for use in displaying a webpage (the encryption is required so users can’t extract the font for unlicensed uses), and there are three products for this:

  • Bitstream’s TrueDoc. TrueDoc technology has been supported by only two products, one now defunct and the other out of distribution though still supported by Bitstream. The idea is to save a font in PFR (“Portable Font Resource”) format and then access it with an XHTML tag that supplies the URL of the PFR file. Note that this tag is not supported by CSS. Not surprisingly, browser support seems to have died off: the last browser that looks to have supported it fully was Netscape 4.
  • Microsoft’s Font Embedding. Font Embedding techology is not much better than TrueDoc. It works only with Windows (naturally) and the EOT (Embeddable OpenType) format that makes it work is not documented and is therefore unavailable to anyone other than Microsoft (of course) and is operational only with Internet Explorer (figures). It appears EOT files are created by the designer by scanning webpages and then selecting glyphs to go into the file. Other than the monopolizing actions of Microsoft, Font Embedding is a decent solution that is efficient and free to users.
  • em2 Solutions’ GlyphGate. em2 actually produced the technology behind Font Embedding, and they improved on it with a server-side plug-in that generates fonts in real-time for users and browsers on demand. The real beauty of this solution is that it works for every browser out there: if it can’t generate a font for a webpage, it will generate a graphic instead and substitute that for the text. GlyphGate can also apply advanced type features (ligatures, old-style figures, etc.) and even kerning, which browsers can’t even do yet. There’s no real downsides to this solution other than the fact that it needs to be set up on the web server: if you publish website through third-party hosts, GlyphGate will not be an option.

Using SVG to create type

Did you know SVG is a W3C standard based on XML? That web-friendly pedigree makes SVG very desirable:

  • SVG is readable and editable by human beings. There’s no proprietary formats or hidden technology involved with SVG, and SVG files can also be indexed like regular HTML pages.
  • XML tools are all you need to create and edit SVG graphics, and there’s plenty of options for such work.
  • SVG images can be indexed with metadata, making it easy to search and find graphic elements.

SVG graphics are described fairly simply with code in XML syntax. It looks like a bunch of numbers to regular folks (see page 350 in Fonts & Encodings) but at least it’s clean and organized. SVG type is even more clean because there are already several XML elements that can describe text: font-family, font-style, font-weight, font-size and more. These are all based on CSS and SVG defers to CSS specs when it comes to these properties. SVG also has a kerning element that can kern type, something that CSS can’t do. Entire fonts can be coded as SVG, plain-text files that dispense with the whole copyright issue altogether because it alone can’t be made into commercial font files (the W3C is encouraging developers not to write tools that do just that). A complete description of SVG fonts and their elements can be found in Fonts & Encodings.

Conclusion

Typography, fonts and the Web almost contradict one another. Fonts are a licensed product, purchased by one person and for use by only one person. Browsers and webpages are free and available anywhere. The conundrum is in how to allow users to have a font handy for browsing a website without actually purchasing the license. So far the solutions have come from various companies, each with their own agendas, and no one solution is perfect. However, I think a solution is not far away.

Ork Posters – Neighborhoods As Typographic Art

There is not a lot of neighborhood information in the maps published as posters by Ork Posters–just lines, cities divided into compartments filled with DIN Engschrift type. They sort of ask you to create your own truth for them … or at least get lost in the play of plain type and shapes.

Ork Designs Chicago

A section of the Ork Poster neighborhood map of Chicago, from screenshot (design copyright Ork Posters)

According to the press info, the designer, Jenny Boerkrem, was looking for a Chicago neighborhoods map–but wanted something different:

By ditching the ‘vintage, illustrated’ look of traditional neighborhood maps, Ork designs its posters in a style characterized by originality, simplicity and modernity

The results (as can be seen in the illustration above) are rather refreshing in a less-is-more, find-your-own-truth way. If you like the idea of interesting shapes and type labels being liberated for energetic play–and really if you just like expressive maps with an adventurous point-of-view, you’ll like Ork Posters.

The press info goes into a bit more depth, putting the aim very well:

Ork’s design deduces each neighborhood to a certain ‘one-ness’, forgetting the stereotypes and differentiations, and reminding us that we, and our areas of living, are part of one larger community. Extending this idea, Ork hopes its line of posters not only function as a map, but also expand one’s sense of community beyond that of our immediate surroundings

They run $22 per copy, and so far come in editions for Chicago, Brooklyn, Manhattan, Boston, and San Francisco. To purchase and to check availability (and to see the Ork Posters line) go to http://www.orkposters.com.

The Gallery Of Regrettable Type: We’ll Pass On This Party

Contributor Jeff Marshall sends along this example of a party for the eyes, proving, sometimes, too much is indeed more than enough:

Florida's natural package

All those type sizes! All those colors! I was still drowsy from sleep when I looked at that; that scene of the two all-fruit fruit juice nugget factory workers fleeing in terror from the explosion at the factory cleared that up. I just hope they made it out okay. Reuters, are you on this one?

Type wise, while we wouldn’t say the type choices on this are inappropriate, there’s just something that’s much too much about this one. Maybe it’s the combination of embowed type and slanted type and unless it’s bowed with the brand name, the type really isn’t working with each other. It’s just a big chaos. There ought to be some way of dialing this back just a bit while still keeping it a riot for the eyes. How that would work, we’ll leave as an exercise for our readers.

Remember, if that type puts a tear in your eye, we want to see it too (just accept it). Thanks be to Jeff for his submission; your submssions be to here!.

FontLab Releases New ScanFont 5 As Plug-in

ScanFont 5 Splash

FontLab have updated their ScanFont utility–a program that enables designers to trace scanned fonts, important in artistic design aspects such as creating fonts from handwriting–and have released version 5. This version works as a plug-in to their major utilities, according to FontLab’s Ted Harrison:

This new version of ScanFont acts as a plugin for any of our font editors – TypeTool, Asiafont Studio, and FontLab Studio (and soon Fontographer, too). SF5 is optimized for scanning glyphs for autotracing into fonts, but it also gives you complete control over the scanning and autotrace process. You can adjust trace tolerance, curve fit and linearity to suit your subject, thus assuring the cleanest and most accurate scan possible so that the final font character requires little or no editing.

The pricing is $99 for a new copy, and upgrading from earlier ScanFonts is $29.95. Full details can be found and FontLab’s announcement here.

New Typesetters Forum Promises Discussion

Recently brought to our attention in a posting on the InDesign Talk list, a new Typestters Forum has opened at the address: http://typesetterforum.com/.

There’s not much for bells and whistles, but there is a good deal of serious discussion going on with subject lines such as The Many Forms of TeX; Quark to InDesign, Making the Switch; Most Common Typesetting Mistakes; and 3B2 Template Developers rounding out a random handful from the front page.

It’s free to participate, so go on over and register if you’re of the typesetting persuasion.

Fonts & Encodings: Informative, Complete, Witty

In the fictional town of Lake Wobegon, somwhere in the center of the US state of Minnesota, broadcaster Garrison Keillor tells of of a place called Ralph’s Pretty Good Grocery, a place so complete that “if you can’t find it at Ralph’s, you can probably get along without it.”

The newest O’Reilly release, Fonts & Encodings(by Yannis Haralambous, translated from the French by P. Scott Horne, ISBN 978-0-596-10242-9, USD $59.99) is something like that, only not in the passive voice so much–of the numerous references on digital typography we’ve reviewed, and with respect to the current state of the art, it is the closest thing that currently exists to a complete reference on Unicode and the state of that art.

As things stand in digital design and type right now, if it’s not in this book, chances are, you don’t need it all that much.

Reach and Range

When it comes to sheer information, this work is an embarrassment of riches. Starting from the earliest days we trace some history through ASCII and EBCIDIC into the prese¤nt day, where Unicode is the state of the current art.

It’s not just about history, though; plenty of technical data and explanations encounter each needful exhibition. Along the way, we get close looks at how Unicode is structured; font management and creation on a variety of utilities (FontLab Studio and George Williams’ FontForge are prominently featured with detailed directions that could just about replace their respective manuals, such as they exist); typeface classifications, and neat under-the-hood looks at how TrueType, OpenType, PostScript, and AAT font formats work.

Philosophy and Style

The danger with pulling such an encylopaedic knowledge store between two covers of a book is that the information is so dense and involved that the resulting product would be dry and dull. Happily, by infusing philosophy and a sense of humor into the work it remains readable and unexpectledly lively for such a technical remit. Take, for example, the ¤, or the universal currency symbol. A member of many font sets, it is illuminated by the author with a certain blunt humor:

The author has never seen this symbol in used in text and cannot even imagine any use for it.

And there are numerous references references to the great Hermann Zapf, who, in a description of AAT’s “Zapf” Table, reads thusly:

The name of this table is inspired by a great font designer who shall remain nameless

Thus this book becomes the first technical reference text we’re aware that actually contains a running gag.

There is a subtext throughout of a sort of semantic philosophy that will cause the reader to examine the subject of fonts and encodings in a perhaps a deeper way. In the opening the reader is explained the structure of the book using the taiji – otherwise known as the yin/yang symbol. Fonts depend on encodings to be used, and encodings need fonts to be expressed. As explained, there’s a clear philosophical distinction between the term ‘glyph’ and ‘character’ (the same as with font and encoding), and the author succeeds in demonstrating why it’s a necessary thing to know. As it turns out, the subject of the book is a rather deep intellectual well.

After all that, though, it must be said that one needn’t be looking for a philosophical education to make use of this book. There is even hints in the introduction for the most effective use of the text by a variety of audiences. Above all, there shines an intense passion that informs the text and makes it readable and warm.

We think that if you care about, use, or think about digital type, you need to check into this book.

A “Blog” to “See”

Unnecessary Quotes Blog Screen Shot

Don’t you just “love” quotes? Aren’t they some kind of “wonderful”? Do you think there should be “more” in the world?

If so, you won’t like The “Blog” of “Unnecessary” Quotation Marks, which takes on this heretofore hidden scourge with the joie de vivre that Eats, Shoots, and Leaves did a couple of years back, and all the scorn it deserves.

If it stopped there it would be amusing enough, but blogger Bethany Keeley takes it to the next level by intentionally carrying the misinterpretation through. For example, an Australian sign tacked to a tree reading exactly “BEES” ACTIVE IN THIS “AREA” garnered the following comment:

Phil saw this on the road between Adelaide and Melbourne in Australia. He writes that he didn’t see any bees. Maybe he did see a “bee” or two. Maybe by “area” they meant “continent”.

It goes on. It’s funny, witty, and will definitely waste a whole lot of your valuable billable time, so for Pete’s sake, especially if you’re on a deadline, don’t go to http://quotation-marks.blogspot.com/!

DGV Free Font: Basic Light

DGV Basic Light

This go-around’s free font from Die Gestalten Verlag is Büro Boris Dworschak’s Basic Light. DGV has this to say about that:

Basic is a visually reduced font that has strong graphic letters. The rounded edges make the letters appear playful in big point sizes and ‘basic’ in small. Basic Light Ltd is the perfect free trial to play around with and see how Basic can transform your graphic language.

The font’s designers have this to add:

“Basic” is a reduced font developed with a strong grid. The results are straight and graphic with strong letters that inspire engraving templates or an architectural stencil typeface.

When we looked at it, we had the idea of the old Keufel & Esser “Leroy” scribers and old-style engraved desk plates, amongst other things. Whatever your impressions are, DGV offers you a limited free text edition for play via this link, here.

You Don’t See That Every Day: The Interrobang

Punctuation gives innumerable ways of expressing feelings, putting across points, enhancing messages, and drawing pretty pictures (for the sufficiently driven, or who think MS Paint is just a little too modern and polished).

There are some complex thoughts, however, that are just complex enough for more than one mark to express, such as the surprise and querying exhibited by the following sentence:

You can’t be serious–can you?!

The exclamation point (the bang) preceded by the interrogative point (or the question mark). Why not combine them?

Interrobang

The Interrobang, Apple Symbol font version.

That might be what the American ad man Martin K. Speckter (d. 1988) thought. The result is what we type freaks call the interrobang, a portmanteau crafted from the names of the two marks (and a darn fun word to say, besides).

Speckter invented the interrobang in 1962, writing about it in TypeTALKS magazine and soliciting suggestions for its name from readers. It enjoyed some popularity but never caught on with the general public, but with the advent of Unicode there is some promise that it will be made available to the enlightened typophile (its Unicode tag is U+230D).

Despite its seeming obscurity, it is available it Microsoft Office users in the Wingdings 2 symbol font.

Font Folio 11: OpenType Coming At You!

Font Folio 11 Box Shot

FontFolio 11 (Image courtesy Adobe)

In anticipation of release of Adobe®’s new edition of Font Folio–Font Folio 11–this writer was privileged to be able to have a chat with some members of Adobe’s team including Thomas Phinney, Adobe’s PM for Fonts and Global Typography.

As a self-made type geek, this was one thing not to be missed. And, as I was given a tour through OpenType and Font Folio features, I noticed one interesting thing–the talk centered, in the main, on what OpenType can do.

In the days since, I’ve thought on that. I’ve realized since that, while Font Folio 11 is a noteworthy upgrade, it really isn’t about Font Folio–it’s about the type. Of course, amongst typophiles, it never was about anything else.

But First, The Folio

It would be a mistake to think that this writer thinks, however, that Font Folio 11 is an afterthought–it isn’t. It’s a notable and timely upgrade to the application that, in its current form, offers a great deal, from access to over 2,300 OpenType fonts to a range of type foundries and individual designers; access to all that OpenType goodness that allows all that creative freedom (or excess, if you really want to push the envelope); access to Adobe Originals; and the inherent quality of Adobe fonts, which the design and publishing world has come to depend on. You get all that with Font Folio 11; a snapshot of the Adobe digital typeface state-of-the-art.

In the past, the cost of entry has been enterprise-level; in version 9, Font Folio came in a 20-seat license only, which sold for about $9,000. When version 9 came out in its OpenType edition, a 10-seat license became available for about half that price. Now, with version 11 comes a 5-seat license available at the comparatively-bargain price of USD$ 2,500, aimed at small workgroups and smaller design agencies or collectives.

What This Means To the Individual

For the individual designer the price of entry might still seem a bit high. But the updating of Font Folio and the expansion of the license program to more types of workgroups holds implications for everyone, at least as far as the ever more widespread acceptance of OpenType.

On a technical level, Font Folio is a needed solution because you get access to Adobe’s font library without having to install the whole library locally. Anyone administering IT resources for designers need not be told what a good thing this is.

We personally know of few designers who don’t like OpenType. What’s not to love about type that, in many cases, lets you take it where you will? Make that type as swashy and connected as you want–or not at all; OpenType offers design freedom. Also, OpenType’s popularity is a matter of some record; the arrival of OpenType support in applications like QuarkXPress indicate that OpenType has indeed arrived.

With the expansion of Font Folio and it’s amazing range of type faces to workgroups of as few as 5 members we could expect to see OpenType used even more widely than ever. If you don’t have Font Folio, you’ll no doubt see an expanded number of projects that require it.

Font Folio 11 aims to be the rising tide that floats all OT boats. You might want to get on board this one, if you haven’t already.

A Subjective View

We love OpenType. As we said, the idea of letting type play, putting all that control at our fingertips, flags, serifs, ligatures, swashes, buckles…it’s really something to get excited about. As we thought about the access to all those OpenType fonts and the idea of seeing more of them in design use, and watched the esteemable Mr. Phinney put OT through its tricks, we thought…yeah, we’re down with that.

OpenType’s coming to a street near you if you don’t have it yet.

Swash me, baby!