Today Sans and Cronos

Aaron Sittig's picture

Well you learn something new every day.

To me, Cronos looks substantially different to Today Sans, unmistakably a Slimbach design (check out the lower counter of the 'g', similar to his Garamond, Warnock and Minion). The angled brushed-like ends of strokes, stronger modulation of stroke width, and abscence of annoying ink traps make Cronos the superior of the two in my book, and set it far enough apart to clear it of the above-linked charges.

hrant's picture

I think Cronos is different enough to make it too small of a fish to fry - there are some narwhals out there. But it does have some telltale signs of structural plagiarism, and it would have been nice if they would just give due credit. That's all.

> annoying ink traps

TodaySans's ink traps are pretty subtle, and this benefits any text face. Looking at a text face at 200 pt is something a reader would never do. Don't believe those who say traps are unnecessary. All the really good designers use them (when needed). Not using them might be economically smart for certain markets (in the same way I think making smallcaps is largely pointless for most users, economically), but never technically so.

> superior

I think in a vacuum Cronos could be seen as superior. Certainly its MM axes make (or used to make) it more versatile. But it is also less pure, and less original - less culturally significant. Which is what people remember.

hhp

keith_tam's picture

I was browsing at a magazine store yesterday, and I saw Cronos used in Mac Design as a text face. The display face is Trebuchet... Cronos reads really well as a text face, owing to its 'humanist' characteristics (!). Cronos is also used for the brochure the publishing courses at Simon Fraser University in Vancouver.

Cronos does work quite well with other Simbach's types. For my slab-serif paper I used Warnock with it. I got the Type Classics for Learning pack while I was still a student. It's terribly good value for some excellent types. A great way for a student to start up a really useful type library.

Never thought Todays Sans was the source for Cronos, but now that you've mentioned it, I do see the similarities. Hrant: just how does one measure the 'cultural significance' of a typeface? I think it would probably take years for any type to become 'culturally significant'... Cronos is still pretty young. So Todays Sans is culturally significant you say? Didn't realize that...

hrant's picture

> just how does one measure the 'cultural significance' of a typeface?

Who knows!
But I would say that innovation is the main ingredient, although it does have to be tempered with usability, because real-world usage -hence exposure- is very important in type culture.

My opinions on Today-Sans are frankly derived in large part from those of Bill Troop (who tends to get very passionate about plagiarism, especially the covert kind). Although my own historical insight is limited, I do see certain innovative traits, and in combination they make Today-Sans highly unique.

hhp

John Hudson's picture

But I would say that innovation is the main ingredient...

That's a Romantic view of culture. Without denying the role and importance of innovation, and the kind of individual genius that usually produces it, a Classical view would reject the idea that such innovation is the main ingredient. Rather the aggregate of human activity defines culture, and the most important element is not innovation but tradition, not individual genius but collective engagement (civitas). As Ezra Pound said, in a rare moment of lucidity, 'Civilisation is not a one man job'.

I don't think it is possible to describe a typeface as 'culturally significant' if no one is using it. And, yes, this does mean that Arial is a culturally significant typeface, proving that not all culture is good culture and that culture can exist because of commercial or technological accident rather than creative inspiration.

hrant's picture

> the aggregate of human activity defines culture

Agreed. I guess I meant significant in terms of cultural progress.

Usage: again, agreed. But if let's say Today-Sans and Cronos are about equally [under]used, and the latter is largely inspired from the former, than the former would be more significant.

hhp

William Berkson's picture

>a Classical view would reject the idea that such innovation is the main ingredient.

I think the view of culture you describe would be better labeled traditionalism. The classical taste in art doesn't necessarily go with it. If memory serves Brunelesci invented perspective drawing, a tremendous innovation. Mozart was not an innovator, Beethoven was. Carlyle, a Romantic, did have the

hrant's picture

> What specifically does Cronos imitate?

I forget. I don't want to be dismissive, but I have lot less unimportant things to worry about... :-/

I think Bill Troop once listed 6 ways in which Cronos copies Today-Sans (on the TypeDesign list), but it's been a while.

> And did Slimbach ever deny it?

Slimbach doesn't generally seem to communicate anything at all.
But certainly he's given it no credit.

> copywrite

I'm personally much less concerned with legality than I am with ethical behavior. Not least because the US design patents awarded are often highly preposterous, like in the case of Adobe Garamond.

hhp

jfp's picture

William: "Cronos is more Romantic than TodaySans, though both go in that direction... What specifically does Cronos imitate? And did Slimbach ever deny it? Ideas are not copywritable, only the embodyment of them. If Cronos uses ideas from TodaySans, but embodies them in a significantly different way, then it deserves the copywrite it got."

Well say!


Please Hrant, stop follow all the time, some statements about Cronos, who are definitely built to make a mix up of the reality. Thanks for the realistic future of type design community built.

jfp's picture

Deleted (sent twice because of slow connection with the server?)

William Berkson's picture

>I have lot less unimportant things to worry about... :-/

Hrant, if it is so unimportant, why did you bring up the issue of cronos being an imitation in the first place? Judging by the heat surrounding these issues, I would say that if anyone can shed more light on the ethics and law of this, it would be service to you type designers.

hrant's picture

It took me little time to type up "Or its original source, TodaySans." and hit the button. Then I had to spend a little bit of effort replying to querries/challenges. Anything more would be wasteful, especially since I'm not enough of an expert, certainly not on the historical issues surrounding this. But somebody has to reveal the twist whenever Cronos is mentioned. I don't trust the guy.

hhp

beejay's picture

Adobe made reference to Today Sans in its patent filing.

The studious patent examiner, surely immersed in type design,
must've not seen a connection. ;)

Seriously, for those of us out of the Troop Loop,
why not a side-by-side glyph comparison, in fairness
to those involved.

Somebody must have both typefaces.

Also, maybe someone ought to invite the
creator of Cronos into a typophile lunch session.

Until then, the rants below will be
repeated as gospel.


http://cgm.cs.mcgill.ca/~luc/cronos.html



bj

hrant's picture

> Adobe made reference to Today Sans in its patent filing.

That's interesting. What exactly does it say in there?

> Somebody must have both typefaces.

In fact I happen to know that at least three of the people participating in this thread do have both (or at least did in the past).

> invite the creator of Cronos

Except he's a documented introvert.

> http://cgm.cs.mcgill.ca/~luc/cronos.html

Well, I don't know about "gospel", but publication does make the knife sharper.

hhp

William Berkson's picture

>It took me little time to type up "Or its original source, TodaySans." and hit the button.

Ah, yes, hitting the button is easy. But there is more than one ethical issue here.

One is the question you consider: proper acknowledgement of inspiration for your work. When and where should you do this? I think it should be done, but if it has been, then repeating it in advertising material it seems to me is asking too much.

The other ethical issue is: when it is legitimate to disparage another person's character? This is regarded as a grave sin in both Buddhist and Rabbinic ethics, even when what you are saying is true. In Rabbinic ethics, it is especially a problem when a person's professional reputation is being potentially stained. There are, however, occassions on which a compelling reason overrides this prohibition, such as that another person will be cheated if you don't speak, or a serious injustice will be perpetuated.

Ethically, people are really in a different category than typefaces when it comes to criticism.

hrant's picture

> repeating it in advertising material it seems to me is asking too much.

I agree.
I don't think there can be a strict threshold, but certainly in any material of more than two or three paragraphs any strong inspirational sources should be mentioned.

> This is regarded as a grave sin in both Buddhist and Rabbinic ethics

Fortunately my religion is Fairness.
And I have a particular disregard for the "professional" aspect you cite.

Anyway, I don't think it's a "serious injustice" (Bill Troop does, and he's supposedly considering setting up a website about type design plagiarism). To me a "serious injustice" is something like the continued denial of the Armenian Genocide by the Axis of Evil (US, Israel, Turkey).

> people are really in a different category than typefaces when it comes to criticism.

Here I totally agree.
And ancient artifacts should be in a different category than oil wells when it comes to preservation.

Everything is related, all of the time, in every way.
And behavior is contagious.

hhp

hrant's picture

Considering how little you show, one has to suspect that you're using anonymity to conceal your bias, and spin opinion.

hhp

plainclothes's picture

if you're looking for a complete character set, why don't
you go look it up, Hrant? it seems that you're being
awfully defensive for something you weren't willing to
put research time into. and just for the record, I was
not the anonymous poster; I'm defending anon here
because Hrant is getting a bit over the top. I do still
love your antagonism, though, Hrant. ;)

there was obviously an influence -- one might even say
a profound one. I would say the influence was put to
good use, resulting in a well-refined translation. the
settling factor for me is that I can see usefulness for
each type in different contexts (and not simply judging
by the anon sample).

Hrant, if you intend to make accusations of intellectual
crime, then do some research and contact the
appropriate persons.

hrant's picture

I "looked it up", did the research, a long time ago, and I've decided what I think about it (and that it's not a huge deal). My concern here however is spin. And I'm not being defensive - I just don't like anonymous weasels - they're part of the same problem.

> the influence was put to good use

I'm no font Nazi - I think influence/inspiration is great. I simply expect it to be admitted.

hhp

bieler's picture

"...one has to suspect that you're using anonymity to conceal your bias, and spin opinion..."

I've always been perplexed by this approach to posting. It's a bit hard to take seriously the opinions and statements of folks who hide behind tags and are afraid to reveal who they are.

Gerald

hrant's picture

Joe, I didn't even get that far. Because: that sample is a minimal subset of what I've already seen myself; more significant than such a minimal sample is the mistrust that anonymity introduces here.

The unnecessary and confusing question of "Do I trust the guy who showed the sample?" does more damage than the sample itself does good.

hhp

William Berkson's picture

>anonymous weasels

Hrant, your 'trash talking' probably pushes people to be anonymous. Just to be clear, I don't think personal insults have any place in a forum like this. It discourages colleagiality, and the benefit of the forum to people. I would like for those who monitor this forum to take a stand on this. Are negative personal comments in order or not?

hrant's picture

If I "discouraged colleagiality" I wouldn't have acquired a small army
of loyal partisans in my few short years in the [public] type world.

> your 'trash talking' probably pushes people to be anonymous.

http://www.typophile.com/forums/messages/72/4694.html

--

Don't try to force your religion on me - you will regret it.

hhp

William Berkson's picture

>Don't try to force your religion on me - you will regret it.

My, my, now threats. This has nothing to do with religion, and everything to do with manners. Personal insults are out of order in rules of order, because they are destructive of productive discussion.

I enjoy your sharp comments on typefaces. Personal trash talking is totally uncalled for, and damaging to productive discussion.

Do you not see the difference?

hrant's picture

I don't think it's so simple.

Also, if you think calling certain people with no names "weasels" is a big deal, you should check out what the Unwashed Anonymous Hordes have been calling me (a real person) since day one, like "troll", "rapist", "parasite", etc. So know the context before you present unreasonable expectations of somebody who's probably nothing like you. Your "polite" might be my "misleading".

hhp

jfp's picture

>more significant than such a minimal sample is the mistrust that an... etc.

The problem is not the guys who post the samples, but the fonts and the designers themselves. No?

And as, from the first day I looked at these two fonts, there is NO relationship between them. I see more relation between Today and Syntax than in Chronos and Today. I see more relationship between Chronos and all other Slimbach typefaces than any others. Just look at the figures structure in Adobe Garamond and Chronos. Same applies with his Minion compared to Chronos.

That it, its a plain Slimbach typeface. Chronos is not a first type attempt from a young guy, it came after already many very good key typefaces. I really don't understand why a guy like Slimbach will lost his time to make a copy of Today, when he have the skills he have. Designing a typeface from scratch for Slimbach is matter of minutes, hours for a quite perfect result (for other eyes, not for him, as any others artists, its why he continue to design typefaces after all), as any master in this art.

I clearly see the philosophy of RS on Chronos: How to emulate handriting roots in a Sans, as we can do in a Serif typeface. His answer is Chronos. Handwriting his the key of all (special cases are Adobe Garamond 1989 and Myriad 1992 for good reasons) of his typefaces. Little like Zapf in some aspects, but in different results. I see more influence from Zapf and Schneider and others master calligrapher in Slimbach typefaces than anything else. If the people who kept going stupid accusation such TodayChronos don't understand than basic fact, they really not in position to understand anything in typeface design philosophy, and all the hours, us typeface designers when spend in front of our designs.

As usual, some people seems to close their eyes, stop to built their own analyse and lost their "bon sens" in front a of problem. They prefer to listen any stupid BIG words without any senses from people who just have a jealousy problem, as its with Trajan drama or some others typefaces with good reputation.

Built your own thinking rather than built it from others fake comments without any feelings and open eyes on the typeforms themselves.

Or, quickly you finally to put in same basket Slimbach and others with Mr King and others. This is dangerous and, its too me, what behind this eternal stupid accusation.

Joyeuses P

hrant's picture

> The problem is not the guys who post the samples, but the fonts and the designers themselves. No?

Both.
Just like statistics can be carefully prepared to fool people into thinking their president was legally elected, a font sample can be carefully made to give a certain (incorrect) impression.

> I see more relationship between Chronos and all other Slimbach typefaces than any others.

I think there are two dimensions to this, and although I agree with you in terms of superficial "finish", I disagree when it comes to structure (which to me is more important).

> I really don't understand why a guy like Slimbach will lost his time to make a copy of Today

It's certainly not a "copy" - but even designers much better than Slimbach don't shy away from inspiration - it's just that the honorable ones admit to it.

> as its with Trajan drama

I agree that John Downer (the only person really vocal about the Trajan episode) is over-zealous in condemning Adobe for what happened - they really tried their best, but the other party was simply too unreasonable.

> put in same basket Slimbach and others with Mr King

No, I would never do that - that's idiotic.
But certain friends of yours clearly put me in the same basket as Apostrophe, non? I wonder why you don't confront them...

hhp

William Berkson's picture

To my amateur typofile eyes, the italic of Cronos in the posted sample has a quite different structure than Today Sans. The roman is similar, but for example the bent tops of the 'r' and 'n' stems is also in Meta, which I think is earlier than TodaySans.

The larger question here is this. R.G. Collingwood, in his book 'What is Art?' points out that the periods when the greatest work has been done, such as Shakespear in literature or the Renaissance in visual arts, the people took from each other pretty freely. The community is helping even the best people to be better. At the same time, people do need to get credit and earn money for what they have produced. How do you serve both these goals?

hrant's picture

> How do you serve both these goals?

Yes, that's a very good question (even though type design is more craft than art).

To me it's a matter of self-confidence, in not shying away from deriving inspiration from the work of others, and not shying away from admitting to it.

hhp

simon's picture

Surely the point (relating to the original thread) is that Cronos can be considered underused because it is beautiful whereas TodaySans should not be described as underused because it is horrible.

>I see more relation between Today and Syntax than in Chronos and Today.

I agree with Jean Fran

hrant's picture

Are you basing your view(s) on the sample in this thread?

hhp

simon's picture

No, although I think that sample is valid. I'm basing my view on the copy of Cronos MM on my own system (it was one of the first fonts I ever bought) and a couple of evenings messing around with 96 pt. samples of TodaySans on MyFonts.com.

William Berkson's picture

Perhaps it is naive of me, but I am surprised that among those who actually produce fonts that there is such total disagreement on the similarity of TodaySans and Cronos. What is it about TodaySans that is supposed to be so original that Cronos is imitating? Is this just an excentric view of a couple of guys? (Troop and Hrant)

William Berkson's picture

Oh and another thing

>not shying away from deriving inspiration from the work of others, and not shying away from admitting to it.

I agree: well put.

There is, however the legal side of it, which I don't understand at all. I read both that type designs cannot be copyrighted, and that a number of designs, including Cronos, have been copyrighted. Can anyone explain to me very briefly what the situation is? This it seems to me will profoundly affect the craftsman/artist who designs type.

hrant's picture

> I am surprised that among those who actually produce fonts that there is such total disagreement

I guess most human opinion is just highly subjective about anything... An individual's views seem to depend much less on "The Truth" and Logic than personal circmstancial background/upbringing. For example, one of the people defending Cronos hates Bill Troop (for an unrelated issue - although that has to do with plagiarism too). It's the old "The enemy of my enemy is my friend", which I consider a very short-sighted way to make decisions. In this case for example it has produced a highly awkward alliance with somebody who makes Bill look like a wilting lily.

> Is this just an excentric view of a couple of guys?

1. I'm nowhere near as rabid as Bill about this. Considering things like Extreme Sans, Cronos is a small fish indeed.
2. Some other designers (at least one of them pretty famous) do actually agree that at the very least credit was due and was not given.

> the legal side

Which is such a farce that to me it's not even worth talking about.

hhp

John Hudson's picture

The design of Cronos has not been copyrighted. It has been given a design patent, which is a limited protection (14 years?) granted to novel designs, based on a detailed submission that must include reference to 'prior art' that may have influenced the design. I have not seen Adobe's patent submission for Cronos, but my understanding is that they acknowledged Today Sans as prior art. Is this giving adequate credit? I don't know.

Hrant mentions that one of the defenders of Cronos hates Bill Troop because of an unrelated issue). It is worth bearing in mind that Bill Troop hates Adobe because of an unrelated issue.

I've looked at Cronos and Today Sans pretty closely. The similarities are mainly in the proportion of the letters and in the overall appearance of text set in both. A page of text in Cronos looks a lot like a page of text in Today Sans. Comparison of the individual letterforms reveals, of course, all sorts of difference in detail and, as Jean-Fran

hrant's picture

> they acknowledged Today Sans as prior art.

1) Wouldn't that invalidate the patent?
2) Let's get a link to that, so it can be really public.

> Bill Troop hates Adobe because of an unrelated issue.

Yes, good point!

> .... Slimbach was impressed by the visual impact of Today Sans ....

I'm about of that opinion too.
I'd simply like it to be admitted/in_the_open.

hhp

hrant's picture

Oh yes, no matter that they're disagreeing (again) - which is totally fine by me.

Of course John will now come back with "We're not disagreeing, Jean-Francois simply brought up a red flag" or some such thing, to patch things up... :-/ To be fair though, friendship (if it's genuine) is indeed more important than candor - although to some extent the former does depend on the latter.

Anyway, carry on, carry on.

hhp

hrant's picture

BTW, John, I still think it's important to see the text of the Cronos patent. I find it strange that -after failing to give public credit to satisfy its peers- Adobe would boldy reveal to the patent office an "inspiration" which is admittedly of subtle distinction, since the patent boys probably have trouble telling apart Times and Baskerville.

But if it's true, that's wonderful - let's see it in the open to silence the few of us whose main objection is the denial (as opposed to the action itself).

hhp

jfp's picture

Ok, let set up a rule (perhaps a game in fact): For each new typeface, list ALL influences (including thoses you suppose others will imagine too as influence) you can have on the specimen showing. And ask to put it at the end of the publisher catalog too. At the end theses lists will take more space than the fonts showing themselves.

And some people will start a new topic on typophile.com and discussing why all typefaces showing are nowadays so small in catalogs and start to complain about them, for whatever reasons.

More later, couple of years after, some old guys (the same who have very very long list of influence) will tell young guys why all theses small showing started to became more and more smaller. all of this came from a 2003 topic about how two different typefaces can be related each others.

In same time, during some annual type conference, the type designers with the most long list of influencers will be honored by a prize (given only every three years), perhaps called "Cronos prize" in memory of the good old days of catalogs with big typeface showing perhaps?

In reality this is not funny at all.
So, my new problem is why Comic Sans is so influence by Souvenir? I hope to have a good pdf comparison ready for next 1st april 2004.

Bonne nuit.

hrant's picture

> this is not funny at all.

I actually think it's funny, but it's also misleading.

There are many examples of good designers revealing their influences (not of course in one-line showings, but certainly in any explanation of more than a paragraph or two), and this should be encouraged. FontBureau and Emigre provide two examples of how to give credit where due.

hhp

John Hudson's picture

Ok, let set up a rule (perhaps a game in fact): For each new typeface, list ALL influences (including thoses you suppose others will imagine too as influence) you can have on the specimen showing.

If ATypI goes to Prague next year, as has been suggested, I have in mind to propose a presentation entitled 'Closely Watched Type' (an allusion to a famous Czech novel and film, Bohumil Hrabal's _Closely Watched Trains_), in which I would, glyph-by-glyph exhaustively identify all the influences and inspirations from other typefaces, works of art, dreams, etc. I would also animate some outlines, to show the development of a glyph and how, during its design, some initial influences disappeared and can no longer be detected, even though they remain in the mind of the designer.

John Hudson's picture

As Jean-Fran

William Berkson's picture

>Let's get a link to that, so it can be really public.

OK, here it is:

http://patft.uspto.gov/netacgi/nph-Parser?Sect1=PTO1&Sect2=HITOFF&d=PALL&p=1&u=/netahtml/srchnum.htm&r=1&f=G&l=50&s1=D400,913.WKU.&OS=PN/D400,913&RS=PN/D400,913

I had trouble opening the link to the full images on the site, but the following was on the page:

The primary patent examiner was Cathy Anne MacCormac. Included with the patent application were samples of:

Cable Light & Heavy, Futura Medium & Bold, ITC Legacy Sans, Gill Sans, Charlotte Sans, Lucida Sans, Agenda, Syntax, ITC Stone Sans, Today Sans Serif

hrant's picture

So opinions are OK as long as nobody is offended?
Like is "I think Madonna's new hair color is rad" acceptable?
And what if I'm offended by uselessly bland opinions?

Heraclitus, baby, Heraclitus.

--

William, thanks for that link.

So I don't get it, what does it say about Today-Sans, exactly? And how is the reference to Today-Sans different than the one to Gill? Certainly no mentally stable type designer would pretend Cronos is too close to Gill for comfort. It seems like a sick joke to even mention Today-Sans in there... Or maybe they needed to mention the closest design to it out there, so that in the future nobody could bring that up to invalidate the patent? I guess that's what happens when a patent officer has an average of 90 minutes to approve a patent (and his outfit makes more money by approving a patent than not). Not that they have the necessary typographic insight anyway... BTW, what does "ornamental design" mean?! Lastly, what exactly happens 14 years after 1997/8?

hhp

William Berkson's picture

I couldn't open the 'image' at the bottom of the linked page. I assume this has much of the patent application, though I don't know. If someone else can get it open, we can learn.




hrant's picture

Those images only show samples of Cronos.

--

BTW, Joe, what about the -admittedly obtuse- allegations against me in this thread?
So are allegations OK as long as they're weasely?

hhp

Joe Pemberton's picture

Just to be clear, are you questioning whether they're
authentic samples? Or, Hrant, are you suggesting there are
other tell-tale things that the sample does not show?

In general I'm annoyed at anonymity, but what I see here is
a GIF of both samples side by side. For the first time I can
see a fairly decent sample on the web at equal sizes and
make a comparison of my own.

Stephen Coles's picture

I wouldn't have acquired a small army of loyal partisans
in my few short years in the [public] type world.


Hahaha, Hrant! You drama queen.

Stephen Coles's picture

Exactly my feeling, Hrant.

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