ligatures and tracking...

wolfattack's picture

So i've been working on my first typeface in fontlab for the last 6 months or so, and I have a quick ligature question.

I've designed a few simple ligatures, /fi/ /ffi/ /fl/, but was wondering what people do when dealing with tracking of the font in-use? Lets say someone is designing a book with my typeface, and they track out a whole block of text to 20, or maybe -20; all the type will look correct but the ligatures because they have a predefined spacing because it is a specific character.

Is there any way in fontlab through some fancy opentype coding to tell it, "use these ligatures up until the user changes the tracking past -10, or +10"? Is that just too complicated of a task for an opentype feature?


oldnick's picture

I can't claim to be an expert on the matter but, AFIK, fonts aren't built with feedback mechanisms, so your problem can't be solved through programming...

andi aw masry's picture

Yes this is a complicated issue in OTLF. So maybe you need a lot of ligature behavior. IMHO

Stephen Rapp's picture

There are some limit controls in Adobe apps. I haven't done this in awhile, but I think if you track them far enough apart it turns off the ligature feature where the tracking is.

wolfattack's picture

hmm, okay, thanks for the help everyone.

RG's picture

Here's what James Felici has to say:

The same thing occurs when character spacing is altered. For instance, if you open up the tracking of a text passage containing ligatures, InDesign will drop the ligatures in favor of their constituent characters and open their spacing accordingly. The same thing happens when tracking is tightened, because otherwise the fixed spacing between the component elements of the ligature would stand out in contrast to the spacing of their neighbors. Ditto for justified type, where spacing has to be stretched or squeezed to fit type into fully filled lines. When a certain, rather small, spacing threshold has been crossed, InDesign will revert to handling the ligatures’ constituent parts as independent characters. Hand kerning can also cause ligatures to disappear.


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