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Monthly Archives: September 2016

Variable Fonts Are Coming!

Sara Cannon at Range:

There is a lot of buzz going on in the typography industry. It’s all about the introduction of Variable Fonts into our ecosystem. It’s being developed jointly by Apple, Adobe, Microsoft, and Google. […]

But as Tim Brown mentions, we have a long way to go. We need designers to make and offer variable fonts, rendering engines that can show the fonts, browsers and design software to support the rendering engines, and ways for people to design with these new fonts. Even though the world is not quite ready for variable fonts, designers should certainly be excited about the future.

I was excited about Multiple Master Fonts in the 1990s, too. Like OpenType Variable Fonts, they were to provide a way to create the perfect font width, weight or optical size to fit a designer’s needs. Unfortunately, MM Fonts didn’t gain any traction from font designers who preferred to sell fonts in prepackages styles. Or, from software companies who found it difficult to incorporate the features into design software. Or, from designers themselves who found it simpler to pick the a readily available style than to muck about adjusting and creating a new style in separate software.

I can think of terrific uses for this new technology, from adjusting a font’s width to match a headline’s length to fine tuning a font’s weight to match different type sizes. But if OpenType Variable Fonts are to succeed, it will require everything to come together including font selection, price, and ease of use.

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