Universal Font Classification System

Mark Simonson's picture

Has anybody seen this?


I was just reading about FontExplorer X on Jason Santa Maria's blog and saw it mentioned. I'm surprised I've never heard of it before. Seems like a good idea.

dezcom's picture

I've not seen it before either. I'll read it closely but it seems like a valuable concept.


speter's picture

Patent pending? Good grief.

Norbert Florendo's picture

Yup, I saw this earlier this year and I still reserve judgement on its practicality.

The very core of this system is to sell fonts to the great "unwashed" which is obviously of great value and interest to the existing type industry (companies/individuals that create/distribute fonts for revenue).

> The patent-pending Type-Expertise Universal Font Classification system has been conceived to meet the needs not only of font users, but also font designers and vendors who require a better way to help their customers choose and purchase fonts, as well as application and operating system developers, who have an inherent need to help their users communicate more effectively.

> According to Denis Ravizza, chief architect of the new classification system: “The system will fundamentally change how fonts are chosen and purchased, based on a dynamic database that is both universal and multicultural. This database will be enriched over time and through usage by the users themselves, through their knowledge, their design practices and their experience.”

> A font choice made by the user is based on the emotions, the experience and the intuition of the individual. This choice is expressed in words via qualifications, designations and adjectives. These values are the heart of the classification system - the resulting database is its unique and invaluable strength. All those participants who use fonts thereby become a classification in themselves. The system thus doesn't embody a single classification, but instead potentially millions of classifications.

In reply to a post on WebGraphics.com
June 14, 2004 05:50 AM
denis ravizza Posted…

"The first question that comes to mind: does this system have some way to filter for the thousands of crap fonts floating out there? And more generally, will uber-classification really help what is ultimately a subjective process? To answer your question about filtering crap fonts: This will be done in two ways. 1/ The Team Type-Expertise wich includes International Graphic designers is working on keywording, classifying fonts that are up to professional standards. The main database will only contain classifications of fonts that are fully designed with kerning tables, full characters and so forth, they will not go for classifying free fonts that do not match quality standards. Thsis classification is being done by pro type users meaning that as graphic designers we do not or rarely use crap fonts."

For me (Norbert speaking here), the key questions are:
> Who in the type industry will have access to the database which will obviously contain great amounts of new registered users, new "emotional" criteria for font purchases?

> As of yet in my research, I have found no disclosure on the funding of the Type-Expertise project nor business sponsors involved. Is Denis Ravizza undertaking this independently?

Thomas Phinney's picture

Personally, I am still quite skeptical about it, but we'll just have to see how it actually works when it comes out. My main problem is that it is simply aggregational rather than self-correcting. (A good example of a self-correcting system is a Wiki.) So all the crud opinions don't get overwritten. One could be hopeful that the "ignorant masses" won't put a lot of effort into adding info, but it feels basically like mob rule.

The counter to this limitation is that apparently it will be possible to see only the expert ratings by the Type-Expertise team. That is bound to be an improvement in quality (if not quantity) over the ratings of the masses, but is still dependent on how good a team they put together.

Short answer: we'll have to wait and see.


canderson's picture

I've always thought that font classification was a matter of opinion. Obviously, people have made many attempts to categorize fonts. Trying to drill down and make the process more precise strikes me as silly. I realize that some people track music by beats-per-minute or rate wine by acidity, but it's only a starting point, not a final assesment of value. My general opinion is that trying to cram fonts into more than a dozen or so categories is a waste of time. There's no reason that one person's classification system will be useful to another person, especially with all these postmodern hybrid fonts floating around. I suppose it might be interesting to see what people think on average, even if it's not particularly useful.

Thomas Phinney's picture

Sure, the classifications have some arbitrary aspects, and even the choice of system itself is at least partly arbitrary (though I think some aspects are natural, given the typefaces we're trying to classify). I'm pretty happy with most of the classification systems I've seen that were done by and for typographers, and could live with any of them. But what I want is to have *some* overarching system of classification that reflects a consistent view and theory. I guess that's why the whole Type-Expertise thing isn't automatically appealing to me.


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