Source Sans Pro: Adobe’s first open source type family

jabez's picture

Source Sans Pro: Adobe’s first open source type family

In adding to this legacy, I am proud to announce that today marks another milestone as Adobe makes yet another type resource freely available by releasing the Source Sans Pro family as our first-ever open source type family.

The brief & development
The primary need for type in Adobe’s open source applications has thus far been for usage within user interfaces. A second environment of perennial interest to Adobe is the realm of text typography. Thus the immediate constraints on the design were to create a set of fonts that would be both legible in short UI labels, as well as being comfortable to read in longer passages of text on screen and in print. In thinking of typeface models that accomplish these tasks well, I was drawn to the forms of the American Type Founders’ gothics designed by Morris Fuller Benton. In particular, I have always been impressed by the forms of his News Gothic and Franklin Gothic, which have been staples for typographers since their introduction in the early twentieth century. While keeping these models in mind, I never sought to copy specific features from these types. Instead, I sought to achieve a similar visual simplicity by paring each glyph to it’s most essential form.

http://blogs.adobe.com/typblography/2012/08/source-sans-pro.html

Té Rowan's picture

Oh, fiddle-faddle! OTF fonts are vector image collections at heart.

Bert Vanderveen's picture

Say again? And here I am, under the impression that fonts are instructions for software and hardware, in other words ‘programme code’… Have I been misinformed for decades?

Theunis de Jong's picture

A plain vector image needs some additional info, such as Where is the Baseline, and What is the Size, and How much of Right-side bearing.
(Granted, these issues can be solved by requiring a fixed document size per glyph to derive all measurements from.)

But a font-as-a-whole needs some more information as well. Maybe in the form of an ADFKO features file? This'll still make people scream "proprietary format! I can't build my font with tool X 'cause it cannot parse the file!"

Ryan Maelhorn's picture

well who says I wanted a free font? Again I say, having it all stroke based makes changing it much much easier, and if you're really trying to be open source, isn't that the whole point?

Anyway if C. Schwartz wanted to give me his stroke files for Mairian, I would gladly accept... Jus' sayin'....

Té Rowan's picture

@BV – The same way SVGs are instructions to software how to draw pretty pictures and MIDI files instruct how to play music. And, yes, you have been misinformed, just a wee li'l itty bitty-bit. Vector-drawing codes are not full programming languages as they lack decision-making capabilities. The TrueType instructing code does have that capability.

John Hudson's picture

Reynir, what may cause confusion here is a real distinction between what you or I might consider a programming language, and hence what constitutes a computer program, and the legal definition of a computer program according to the registrar of copyright or other intellectual property protection in a given jurisdiction. So, for instance, the US Copyright Office defines a computer program very generously as 'a set of statements or instructions to be used directly or indirectly in a computer in order to bring about a certain result', and extends protection 'to all the copyrightable expression embodied in the computer program'. The inclusion of statements as well as instructions in the definition, and the allowance of indirect as well as direct use in bringing about 'a certain result', opens a pretty wide door.

Bendy's picture

>having it all stroke based makes changing it much much easier

Not really. In this sense, the stroke model would only be useful for a purely geometrical design, with no optical compensation, modulation, or visual interest. Once you start trying to make a real typeface based on a stroke model you end up with something like Metafont, which is the opposite of easy for an end user. I think this conception of type design fails to appreciate the painstaking skill type designers need, and the thousands of decisions that go into a typeface, or how to add weight to make a bold. It's a thinking process that cannot be satisfactorily reduced to mechanics.

hrant's picture

It's not that it fails to appreciate the necessary skill, it's that it distracts from ideal results, especially for a text face. Stroke-based type design is an attractive but damaging illusion - a succubus. It's always the notan that needs to be designed, directly.

For the record though Metafont doesn't have to be stroke-based*; better to refer to something like Computer Modern, where no matter how many contortions you go through you can't get to where you need to be.

* Where the thread "A serif font created with METAFONT"?

hhp

Khaled Hosny's picture

Computer Modern is not stroke-based (except for the math calligraphy alphabet).

hrant's picture

The outlines of Computer Modern are generated by "expanding a skeleton". The skeleton is strokes.

That's why it looks crappy. And even fonts that are made with "virtual" strokes (parachirography) have a bit of that crappiness deep down - it's harder to see.

hhp

Té Rowan's picture

@John – I already know that US courts have pretty much decreed that things like CP/M's submits and GW-BASIC's DRAW statements are programming languages. It's the Pursuit of the Almighty Dollar, I reckon.

Khaled Hosny's picture

@hrant:
This might have been true for some early iteration of Computer Modern but it is not the case with the final version where glyphs are drawn with filled outlines (agin except for the math calligraphic alphabet where a "nib" pen is used).

hrant's picture

The point is that the "filled outlines" come from expanding a skeleton.

hhp

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