OpenType Guide

microspective's picture

Your entire site is effin' beautiful. Nice work!

kentlew's picture

A couple random thoughts.

I find your wording of the ‘Results’ a little unorthodox to my ear and possibly confusing: Substitutes x to y. It’s your use of the preposition ‘to,’ which doesn’t usually get employed with the verb ‘substitute.’

I’m personally more accustomed to any of the following: Changes x to y; or Substitutes x with y; or Replaces x with y; or even Substitutes y for x.

There are OT fonts that utilize a Fraction {frac} definition that can be usefully applied globally. I spurred Tal Leming to write the code. Font Bureau will be adopting it. I think there are others.

Code for {frac} is one of the most variable out there. There is no standard, and folks really need to pay attention to what any given font does with it.

In your Other Features section, for Case-Sensitive Forms and Capital Spacing, you might indicate that in most implementations these features are not explicitly turn-on/offable — they are deployed only when the app’s All Caps styling is applied.

Also in your Other section, the Optical Size entry is not the same kind of thing as all the other features. That is to say, strictly speaking, this is not an OpenType Layout feature, as the others are.

Although there is an Optical Size {size} feature registered, no apps currently support it, and what you describe is not this feature. Instead, you seem to be describing Adobe’s specific approach to naming optical instances of their type families. Other foundries use different schemes. And, again, this is not specifically an OpenType feature or even limited to OpenType format.

But, otherwise, nice compilation.

Thomas Phinney's picture

Besides what others have said:

It's very nice, but relying on a link to Wikipedia to illustrate each point involves an awful lot of extra clicking. If you're going to take the time to write up all the descriptions, you ought to also take the time to provide illustrative images. They don't have to be terribly large or elaborate.

Cheers,

T

Film_101's picture

Thanks for the feedback kentlew, some very useful observations. I'll be making some edits based on these this weekend.

Thomas, I'll be adding some images in the next few days. Just couldnt find any spare time in the office today :)

Thanks for the feedback.

agisaak's picture

I realise that this is intended as a beginner's guide and therefore glosses over various technical details, but there's one example of this which I think will generate confusion. In your section on superscripts you state:

Substitutes lining or oldstyle figures with superior figures, and substitutes lowercase letters with superior letter glyphs. Non-OT fonts may synthesise the effect.

(I assume by 'synthesise' you mean 'simulate').

Similar wording occurs in a number of your other descriptions as well. Actually, non-OT fonts can't simulate this effect at all. Various applications will, however, simulate this by scaling and vertically shifting glyphs. This distinction is important since the distinction between having real or simulated superscripts has nothing to do with whether the font is opentype or not, but rather with whether the font contains proper superscript glyphs.

A non-opentype font can contain real superscript glyphs, though they are less convenient to access since they usually involve switching to an expert version. Conversely, not all OpenType fonts contain superscript glyphs, in which case applications will fall back upon the same sort of simulation.

André

Jongseong's picture

I’m personally more accustomed to any of the following: Changes x to y; or Substitutes x with y; or Replaces x with y; or even Substitutes y for x.

If I'm remembering correctly, "substitute y for x" is the original form, but interference with the verb "replace" has given rise to "substitute x with y" (which purists will frown upon) and even the dreadfully confusing "substitute x for y" with the objects switched. To avoid ambiguity, better to stick with "replace".

.00's picture

This is how we indicate OpenType features in our fonts:

http://www.terminaldesign.com/Fonts/#/ConsulText/AboutDesign

Film_101's picture

@ terminaldesign . "Beginners Guide"

I'm trying to present something that explains the benefits of OT without scaring people off. Apparently that is something that is quite hard to achieve.

dezcom's picture

"This is how we indicate OpenType features in our fonts:"

Looks good, James! Simple and direct.

dezcom's picture

If you build it, they will come.

.00's picture

I'm trying to present something that explains the benefits of OT without scaring people off. Apparently that is something that is quite hard to achieve.

I thinks we are long past a "beginners guide", and let's be honest, your wordy descriptions do nothing to explain any "benefits" what ever they may be.

Every font maker who produces OT fonts has some sort of explanation of their fonts and features, why do you feel compelled to try and do this? It makes no sense to me.

Film_101's picture

You'd be surprised at the amount of people who work with fonts but have no idea about any of these features. So the idea was to provide an explanation of the features without coming across like a miserable snooty type head. I'm sure that makes sense to you.

.00's picture

I am a miserable snooty type head, so no, it doesn't make sense to me at all.

riccard0's picture

You'd be surprised at the amount of people who work with fonts but have no idea about any of these features.

How true!

.00's picture

I'm sorry, I thought you were all talking about that new OpenFont stuff that's been going around the web.

Michael_Rowley's picture

'You'd be surprised at the number of people who work with fonts but have no idea about any of these features'

It's not so suprising: unless they use an application that takes advantage of the Unicode features (and the features are available in the fonts they use), an OpenType font doesn't appear to them any different from a Type 1 or TrueType font.

William Berkson's picture

Jon, as your goal is to explain the advantage of open type to those who are not aware of it, I think it would be helpful and distinctive if you would make your site more ambitious, and explain and show with illustrations how the different features help in designing a page or ad or poster.

For example, small caps, being the same weight as lower case, can often harmonize better with the lower case as running heads or sub-heads, and in acronyms in running text. Showing "before" and "after" with caps and small caps would make the point visually, and show the advantage and additional flexibility that small caps give the designer.

Similarly, you could show old style figures vs lining in running text, and the advantage of old style. Then the advantage of tabular lining in tables, etc.

Adobe has done a video with some of this in it: http://www.adobe.com/type/opentype/

And here is Adobe's PDF, with some further information: http://www.adobe.com/type/browser/pdfs/OTGuide.pdf

This "designing with open type", with before & afters is a more ambitious thing than what you've done, but I think it would add something new and useful to what's on the web.

You could solicit examples of open type designs from folks here on Typophile, and chose some excellent examples. Then alter them to show how they would look without open type. This would give you some nice "before" and "afters" that would illustrate clearly the additional design powers that open type offers.

Film_101's picture

Thanks William, some very good points. I've added some images to the post, but might swap them out for some before/after examples when I get more time. They would be a lot more useful for sure.

Nick Shinn's picture

Here are a couple of articles I wrote for Graphic Exchange a few years back, which you might find relevant.

The first, Diggin' it?! was just prior to OpenType, so it talks about "expert typography". However, it's the same stuff, and I think that's a point you could make, that these are not new state-of-the-art software effects made possible by OpenType, but traditional typographic niceties which have been generally made more easily accessible than in the first generation of digital fonts.

IMO the most interesting OpenType feature is contextual alternates, not particularly for straightforward contextualization in scripts--which was available back in the days of phototypositor setting--but for pseudo-randomization, which is a new development. For instance, in Duffy Script, there are four versions of each character, which the contextual alternates feature deploys to minimize the possibility of adjacent or near glyphs being identical, for a less traditionally typographic, more hand-rendered effect.

The second, Big Thing, was in 2002, introducing the new format.

Film_101's picture

Thanks Nick, I've included a link to your Diggin' It?! article. Much appreciated.

Syndicate content Syndicate content