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10 minutes ago, kenmcd said:

The differences are in the font handling in the application, not the PDF.

That is simply not true. Variable fonts are not supported in PDFs, without which you cannot edit PDF text.

From one of your earlier posts:

On 1/19/2023 at 2:59 AM, kenmcd said:

PDF was not/is not designed for editing.

Adobe Acrobat has been able to do that for decades. It is not an edge case.

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44 minutes ago, kenmcd said:

And what ends up in the PDF is exactly the same.

If it were exactly the same, an application would be able to embed a variable font into the PDF it creates. Instead, the application must convert the variable font into a constructed static font and embed that new font.

-- Walt
Designer, Photo, and Publisher V1 and V2 at latest retail and beta releases
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1 hour ago, walt.farrell said:

If it were exactly the same, an application would be able to embed a variable font into the PDF it creates. Instead, the application must convert the variable font into a constructed static font and embed that new font.

Every embedded font is a "new font."
The original full static font is never embedded.
The original full variable font is never embedded.
A collection of text character data and shapes is embedded.
That collection may be a full character set, or a sub-set of those characters.
Characters (with a code point) does not include all the glyphs in a font.
No OpenType alternate glyphs are included (except those shapes used for a character).
So no full set of small caps, no set of alternate figures, no unused swashes, no unused character variants, no unused contextual alternates, no localization alternates, no discretionary ligatures, no stylistic sets, etc., etc.
The application may embed the alternate shapes from some of those features.
No OpenType code is embedded - so there is no OpenType connection between the embedded character codes and the alternate shape embedded.
A character code is there, and a shape is there.
The application may have substituted the shape based on some OpenType code.

A particular character code may have many different shapes associated with it.
With a static font,
the application chooses which shape is embedded based on features selected.
With a variable font,
the application chooses which shape is embedded based on features selected.
And what ends up in the PDF is exactly the same.

Does a fully editable, full featured static font get embedded?  No.
Does a fully editable, full featured variable font get embedded?  No.

I do not know if OpenType font data will ever end up in the PDF specifications.
But OpenType modified alternate shapes work in PDFs right now.
I do not know if variable font data will ever end up in the PDF specifications.
But variable font modified alternate shapes work in PDFs right now.

So I do not know why there is this focus on "embedding a variable font."
That would only matter if the PDF spec is someday modified to be a truly editable file format which supports font technologies that it does not support now - such as OpenType and variable fonts.
I doubt that will ever happen.
It is my understanding that in the very early days of PDF you could embed essentially an actual full font, but that practice was stopped many, many years ago.
Adopey does not want their full fonts embedded in a PDF, ever.

There is no limitation on the use of variable fonts because of supposed PDF issues.
It works now.
So Affinity could support variable fonts now.

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2 hours ago, walt.farrell said:

If it were exactly the same, an application would be able to embed a variable font into the PDF it creates. Instead, the application must convert the variable font into a constructed static font and embed that new font.

No, this is not the case, which I and others have repeatedly pointed out.

I use variable fonts almost every day in various printed publications. An InDesign or Illustrator file will save variable fonts to PDF with no problems. I can, and have on many occasions, opened PDFs containing variable fonts in Illustrator and the fonts are still there and still editable. They haven't been converted to static fonts. They haven't been outlined, and they still function as variable fonts with adjustable axis.

Now if you want to edit the PDF in an application that doesn't support variable fonts, such as Affinity Designer or Publisher, of course the variable fonts won't be editable, but that has nothing to do with the PDF — it's the result of the limitations of the editing software that doesn't support variable fonts. In addition, of course, the computer where any subsequent editing occurs must have the variable font installed, which isn't all that different from needing the locally installed .otf or .ttf font file when the file is edited.

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45 minutes ago, kenmcd said:

So I do not know why there is this focus on "embedding a variable font."

Why? Because, for PDF text to be editable you have to have that font installed on your system. The way to get round sending a font file along with a PDF is to embed the font in the PDF.

Reference 1: you must install the font... https://community.adobe.com/t5/acrobat-discussions/fonts-examples-of-said-fonts-adobe-acrobat-xi-pro/td-p/10301747

Reference 2: embedding a font to allow a PDF to editable : https://www.adobe.com/uk/acrobat/resources/embed-fonts-in-pdf.html

Reference 3: Native support (of variable fonts) allows text editing in Acrobat: https://community.adobe.com/t5/indesign-discussions/variable-fonts/m-p/10956586#M177364

Is Dov Isaacs, specialist in PDFs for decades, very brief intro here https://de6.pdfa.org/people/dov-isaacs/, wrong? 

It doesn't matter that much to me. I am happy if other people want variable fonts. But let's not make up stories about the technology around them.

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Agreed, variable font support is pretty crucial. Recently started a freelance project and one of the official fonts used by the company I'm working for is Overpass, which is a variable-width font. Displays perfectly fine in Publisher, but the moment I export a PDF for proofing or printing, all instances of any font weight different from Regular are ignored and all copy is Regular weight in the PDF. A workaround is to convert all text to outline, which I do, but that's not ideal since if one were to accidentally save after outlining all text, obviously everything needs to be typeset again. It's odd to me that variable fonts are supported enough to render different weights in the software, but unable to export properly.

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4 minutes ago, allaboutdolph said:

A workaround is to convert all text to outline, which I do, but that's not ideal since if one were to accidentally save after outlining all text,

You don't have to do that.

On creating a PDF just select Text as Curves in the Advanced Tab, Embed Fonts option.

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  • 3 weeks later...

Still no variable fonts?

This is crazy.

The variable font is just sat there staring at me and I'm having to diick-around with strokes to try and create the effect I need.... 

It makes Designer feel like a really poor cousin to Illustrator.

Edited by Slips
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On 1/20/2023 at 8:55 PM, LondonSquirrel said:

The way to get round sending a font file along with a PDF is to embed the font in the PDF.

That is NOT what your referenced sites are saying.

Look more closely: in the first one, the person you quoted explicitly spelled out that for the text to be editable the font must be installed on your system quote "even if the font is embedded within the PDF file.".  In the second one it said that if the font was marked as "(embedded subset)" that meant it was already embedded (so they considered a subset of the font to be embedded meaning that only some of it was there) which would make it non-editable if relying on the subset (since you might add characters that are missing from the subset).  In the third one he indicated that multiple master fonts are fully supported in PDF but that variable fonts (which we are discussing here) were not at the time of that writing (and we are simply stating that this continues to be the case).

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1 hour ago, fde101 said:

That is NOT what your referenced sites are saying.

Look more closely: in the first one, the person you quoted explicitly spelled out that for the text to be editable the font must be installed on your system quote "even if the font is embedded within the PDF file.".  In the second one it said that if the font was marked as "(embedded subset)" that meant it was already embedded (so they considered a subset of the font to be embedded meaning that only some of it was there) which would make it non-editable if relying on the subset (since you might add characters that are missing from the subset).  In the third one he indicated that multiple master fonts are fully supported in PDF but that variable fonts (which we are discussing here) were not at the time of that writing (and we are simply stating that this continues to be the case).

Read more carefully my link to reference 1. You must install the font...

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4 hours ago, LondonSquirrel said:

Read more carefully my link to reference 1.

On 1/20/2023 at 8:55 PM, LondonSquirrel said:

The way to get round sending a font file along with a PDF is to embed the font in the PDF.

On 1/20/2023 at 8:55 PM, LondonSquirrel said:

embedding a font to allow a PDF to editable

 

The wording in your post is confusing.  You first indicate that the font must be installed, then suggest that embedding the font is a way to get around that and make it editable, which seems to contradict that.  I was responding to that contradiction.

It looks like we are in agreement but the wording of your post was misleading...

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  • 2 weeks later...

I'm a somewhat new user of Affinity Design. I signed up to join this forum just because of this issue involving OpenType Variable Fonts.

I've been working in the sign industry for nearly 30 years, mainly designing outdoor electrical signs but also lots of other things too. I've used at least half a dozen or more vector graphics applications over the years, but have done most of my work within CorelDRAW and Adobe Illustrator. I haven't considered Affinity Designer as an acceptable replacement for either one of those applications at this point. But I have been experimenting with Designer because I think the potential is there for the application to become more popular, particularly for anyone doing design work on a limited budget. Lots of small businesses and individuals will try to "home brew" their own logos and other graphics materials. Just in case I start receiving customer provided artwork in Affinity Designer format I want to be able to handle it properly.

For my own design purposes OTF Variable Font support is very important. I really like variable fonts that offer weight and width axes. Such typefaces will give me more flexibility to create a design that has to fit in a fixed space, such as a replacement face for an existing tenant sign cabinet. There is a lot of truly horrible quality sign design out in the field. Quite a bit of it features default Arial artificially stretched and squeezed to cram into a spot in the layout. The "designer" can't bother to scroll down the fonts list to find a typeface with styles whose proportions fit in the space. I think sign designers have a certain civic duty to not visually poop on the commercial landscape. A badly designed sign may be visible on a building or next to a street for many years. Badly designed signs and poorly maintained signs help fuel public backlash and inspire severe anti-signs ordinances. Variable type can allow designers to deal with space limitations far more gracefully. A variable font that has a width axis can be "squeezed" yet maintain the proportional balance of its vertical and horizontal strokes.

I spend a pretty decent amount of money on commercial type. Most type families I've purchased lately have included variable versions along with a folder filled with many static instances. Some purchases had only variable fonts in the package. For instance when I bought a copy of Proxima Vara I downloaded just one font file. I was pretty happy to see the arrival of the OpenType Variable format. I remember using Type 1 Multiple Master fonts in the 1990's (within Adobe Illustrator). The OTF Variable format brings back the Multiple Master concept, but with the much larger OpenType character set capability.

I really don't care whether Variable Fonts are supported by PDF or not. With a lot of the design work I do I tend to convert the type objects to outlines during the design process or when I finish it. But the Variable Fonts have become an important tool for the design process.

It's worth noting Adobe recently added more than 140 Variable Font families to its Adobe Fonts service. Out of vector drawing applications I think Adobe Illustrator has supported the OTF Variable Font format the longest; it's also one of very few that support OpenType SVG (aka "color fonts"). CorelDRAW has supported OTF Variable since its 2020 release IIRC. Even Inkscape supports OTF Variable Fonts now. I think it's pretty important for Affinity Designer to add Variable Font support sometime soon. 

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It is disappointing v2 doesn't offer OTF Variable Font support. I found out v2 didn't support the feature soon after it was announced. I waited until practically the last day of the introductory price discount period before caving in and buying copies of v2 for my PC and iPad. There is a decent number of other improvements in the upgrade. I'm still holding out some hope OTF Variable Font support will be added on a point-release update. Variable fonts are only gaining in popularity. They're not going to be a flash in the pan the way Type 1 Multiple Master fonts were in the 1990's.

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I was thinking about variable fonts a few weeks ago and came up with the question: "What is going to happen in a year or two when people are trying to figure out what all the settings are for a variable font which was used in a PDF they have been handed.

Note that I am sceptical about the utility of Variable fonts, they seem far too gimmicky to me with my increasingly conservative outlook.

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Affinity Designer 2.3.1 | Affinity Photo 2.3.1 | Affinity Publisher 2.3.1 | Beta versions as they appear.

I have never mastered color management, period, so I cannot help with that.

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There might be some individual variable typefaces that seem gimmicky, but that's a subjective judgement.

I, for one, utterly detest the Arial typeface. I think it's harshly ugly looking, especially when set next to a far more "neutral" sans like Akzidenz Grotesk or Helvetica. That's my subjective judgment on it. My hatred for Arial is extended by all of its horrible over-use. It's the default font in many applications. In the sign industry Arial is perhaps the most misused and abused typeface there is. So many hacks out there just love artificially squeezing and stretching it to force-fit it into a tight space. That makes an already ugly typeface even more ugly. The tyranny of that typeface (and poor quality graphic design in general) helps fuel a growing anti-signs movement in many city governments.

Variable fonts can help fight some of that problem. I have a few "work horse" variable typefaces in my collection that come in very handy when I'm working with very demanding space limitations. A single variable font file with weight and width axes can yield many thousands of possible combinations. The results look far more graceful and professional than taking a stock, static font and artificially distorting it to squish it into a space.

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On 3/3/2023 at 2:47 PM, Old Bruce said:

Note that I am sceptical about the utility of Variable fonts, they seem far too gimmicky to me with my increasingly conservative outlook.

Gimmicky? There are many gimmicky typefaces of every sort, and I suspect some variable fonts will follow the same path. I have noticed that the demos of variable font capabilities often show the gimmick potential of variable fonts.

However, there's nothing inherently gimmicky about variable fonts. I increasingly depend on them for dealing with tight space requirements or adjusting display-sized type, such as headlines, to achieve exactly the right balance of weights and widths. As someone with a self-described conservative outlook (on type and design, I suppose), variable fonts will enable you to fine-tune those classic typefaces to their best advantage for the job at hand.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Hi there!  New to the forum, long time user of design software.  I thought I'd throw my $0.02 into the ring here as this has recently been a pain point for me.

Variable font support isn't only about what cut of a typeface you prefer using, it's also massively helpful when authoring typefaces.  Whereas users get the option of interpolating between different axes, typeface designers no longer have to create and maintain as many individual letterforms and can also rely on interpolation to generate different cuts of the font, either statically or through a variable font file.  Don't need that when designing?  That's cool!  Stick to the regular weights from 100-900 or use static exports (currently the only option we have in this software), but variable fonts are unquestionably the direction the industry is going in because of the flexibility offered to users and lower effort required from type designers for the same product.

Another key advantage of variable fonts hold over static cuts lies in web design and animation, two fields that aren't currently served by Serif's software.  These use cases don't matter when exclusively using the Affinity suite of tools, but it's not acceptable to be unable to match styles used elsewhere — especially when required by brand guidelines.  On our website, variable fonts allow us to serve a single .WOFF2 file with support for both sans and semi-monospaced text at any weight we choose while using a fraction of the size that would otherwise be required when serving static cuts.  We also get to smoothly interpolate between weights for things like hover states.

In this specific example, we use Recursive as one of our brand fonts.  Currently I am unable to use the Affinity suite to set text with Recursive's monospaced axis set to 0.51 (semi monospaced with added slab serifs) due to lack of variable font support.  We use Recursive set to mono=0.51 for the better spacing afforded in instances where a monospaced font is good to convey information (this text is data or for branding reasons, we use it for titles), but doesn't actually benefit from actually being monospaced.  It's become such an issue when creating graphics for our brand that I'll probably have to buy Illustrator again, what a bummer!

In closing, I feel like I read somewhere that this would require a fairly significant overhaul to the entire type rendering engine.  As somebody who works in software I understand that changes like this may seem small to end users but can actually be quite a large undertaking to implement.  Something that I've been very impressed with regarding Affinity's suite of tools is the care put into creating a software package that is both cohesive for end users while remaining technically consistent, generally with a focus on doing things correctly — especially regarding colour.  All I ask is when prioritizing future features, maybe consider bumping variable font support up the list?  I'm excited for the day your already pretty good type rendering engine becomes best-in-class! :)

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  • Staff

@Shrinks99

Welcome to the Serif Affinity Forums :) and thanks for your expert opinion on this topic. I think the overhaul of the engine would be needed for RTL (mixed direction) text, but I do not think that support for variable fonts is as difficult and I too hope it can be addressed before too long

Patrick Connor
Serif Europe Ltd

"There is nothing noble in being superior to your fellow man. True nobility lies in being superior to your previous self."  W. L. Sheldon

 

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30 minutes ago, Shrinks99 said:

In this specific example, we use Recursive as one of our brand fonts.  Currently I am unable to use the Affinity suite to set text with Recursive's monospaced axis set to 0.51 (semi monospaced with added slab serifs) due to lack of variable font support.  We use Recursive set to mono=0.51 for the better spacing afforded in instances where a monospaced font is good to convey information (this text is data or for branding reasons, we use it for titles), but doesn't actually benefit from actually being monospaced.

Welcome to the Serif Affinity forums.

Thanks for your input, and for understanding that it may be more difficult to implement than some of us users seem to recognize :)

I'm curious (as I'm still educating myself in this area) what output formats you're using where it would be useful. For example, you've mentioned web design and animation, but if Affinity could support Variable fonts, what output formats would you be using where you would find the support useful?

-- Walt
Designer, Photo, and Publisher V1 and V2 at latest retail and beta releases
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@Patrick Connor Ha!  Mixed direction text is always fun.  We haven't thought about that yet for our applications and I'm sure I'll be dealing with it in the years to come!  Lucky for me, ours is web based with all of the affordances and limits that brings. 🙃

@walt.farrell Output format utility would mostly remain the same I think?  There's not a lot regarding variable fonts that change the format one might deliver something in.  As I understand it, Affinity Designer does not aim to be a 1-1 SVG spec adherient editor so while SVG can include things like animation, I wouldn't expect that to be editable through Affinity's software.  As such if I wanted to animate a variable font's axes in an SVG exported from Designer I would expect the ability to edit the file in an external text editor with text exported as <text> objects (not paths) which is something the program is capable of doing today.  The axes controls would have to be added to the CSS export that Designer already performs reasonably well.

In any case, SVG and PDF are probably the most relevant formats to worry about regarding variable fonts due to the different way type can be embedded in the files.  Other than that — as far as I know — exporting is the same as with regular cuts of typefaces.  It's less about the specific format and more about having the feature consistency across my pipeline which involves software like Figma, web browsers, Blender (through Coldtype st2), and of course Affinity's software.

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2 hours ago, Shrinks99 said:

In this specific example, we use Recursive as one of our brand fonts.  Currently I am unable to use the Affinity suite to set text with Recursive's monospaced axis set to 0.51 (semi monospaced with added slab serifs) due to lack of variable font support.  We use Recursive set to mono=0.51 for the better spacing afforded in instances where a monospaced font is good to convey information (this text is data or for branding reasons, we use it for titles), but doesn't actually benefit from actually being monospaced.  It's become such an issue when creating graphics for our brand that I'll probably have to buy Illustrator again, what a bummer!

Ugh. Don't do that. 😬

Make yourself a set of "corporate brand" static fonts with the settings you want.
This would also be good for sharing with other company employees, etc. who may not be using advanced applications.

Slice is a free open-source GUI tool.
https://github.com/source-foundry/Slice
https://slice-gui.netlify.app/

or Google fonttools (FOSS) runs in Python
https://github.com/fonttools/fonttools
https://fonttools.readthedocs.io/en/latest/varLib/instancer.html

or Samsa - free online tool
https://lorp.github.io/samsa/src/samsa-gui.html

or Dinamo Font Gauntlet - free online tool
https://fontgauntlet.com/

or just open the variable font in a font editor, add the instances you want, and export them as statics.
Take about 15-20 minutes in FontLab.

Love Recursive. Fully uniwidth. Rare.

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2 minutes ago, kenmcd said:

Make yourself a set of "corporate brand" static fonts with the settings you want.
This would also be good for sharing with other company employees, etc. who may not be using advanced applications.

Getting outside the scope of this topic so I don't want to go too off the rails, but yes!  This is a good idea and something I had planned to do actually, the fonttools static export wasn't playing nice with the variable version of Recursive I have installed due to a naming conflict?  My attempts to fix this with the Glyphs source files were unsuccessful, seemed to be an issue with the version mismatch & also me being lazy and not configuring the build system properly.  I'll try out Slice!  I found this repo once before but lost it so thanks for reminding me about it! :)

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