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The fuss? Well, it‘s to do with variability as a design tool. Suppose I have a two axis seriffed variable font — it‘s got a weight axis from super-light to extra-bold, and it‘s got an optical size axis which varies from a hyper-legible ‘caption‘ master with big counters, chunky serifs and minimal contrast to use at tiny sizes to a ‘display‘ master with maximal contrast, hairline thin strokes and serifs, etc. And I’m setting some body text with a headline. At the size that I’m using, 300 feels too light while 400 is too heavy. Using the slider, the ‘sweet spot‘ is about 360. I also want to dial down the contrast — but just a bit. There is some slightly bigger standfirst at the start of the text. It looks better lighter (320) and with more contrast. The subheads I want heavier (760 looks right) so I push the optical scale (but not as far as the display end). The headline, on the other hand, I want with fine hairlines (the optical scale is also tightening the letterspacing — not globally, like tracking, but as the type designer has adjusted it with the left and right sidebearings and kerning for each character). And there is a point where the headline just begins to sing... Does that make sense? Variable is giving fine control to the things that are important to a print designer. Once you‘ve had it, even the Adobe Originals kind of type family with a range of weights and two or three optical variants doesn‘t cut it.

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5 hours ago, LondonSquirrel said:

So basically you have become a font designer.

That strikes me as an unfair and unhelpful statement. In any case, it does not follow. Exercising the choice of whether to use a 300 or a 400 weight for a particular layout situation does not make one a font designer. We have been doing that for years. Now that we have more choice, I don’t see why picking an in between value like 360 suddenly means layout designers can be accused of presuming to be font designers.

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5 hours ago, LondonSquirrel said:

If it's on digital media how does 360 compared to 400 render on a mobile phone?

we don’t have these concerns on Affinity apps ;-) …depends on the display, the settings, … ask Erik Spiekermann

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6 hours ago, LondonSquirrel said:

So basically you have become a font designer.

I can sort of see the purpose for those who want it. I suppose it depends on where your finished product ends up. If it's on digital media how does 360 compared to 400 render on a mobile phone? 

6 hours ago, LondonSquirrel said:

So basically you have become a font designer.

I can sort of see the purpose for those who want it. I suppose it depends on where your finished product ends up. If it's on digital media how does 360 compared to 400 render on a mobile phone? 

Digital media is NOT the entire purpose of the Affinity products.  Some of us do graphics layouts, documents layouts.

How about you stay on topic as compared to taking a left hand turn into a different topic?

I, for one, find JAME's post perfectly on-target with the subject of the thread.

Sarcasm does not help you out.....

RickyO
APhADe and APu user
New User as of Mar, 2018
(Still stumbling along given too many directions at any given moment)
Windows10 platform

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11 hours ago, LondonSquirrel said:

So basically you have become a font designer.

18 hours ago, jamessouttar said:

No, basically font designers have put — and are increasingly putting — this control into users’ hands. And that‘s the point: the font industry is moving over to variable. From a type designer‘s point of view, it‘s much more interesting and satisfying to create a variable font; typographically it‘s a much more sophisticated and powerful tool. I concentrated in my comment on the practical stuff variable fonts can do, but there are so many cool new things variable fonts can do — and not just with letterforms. For instance, because variable fonts interpolate between glyphs, animation in digital environments becomes incredibly smooth (Laurence Penney’s animated Muybridge horse, on his Axis-Praxis site, is an early case in point). It makes sense for symbol libraries (fontawesome, ionicons, etc.) to be in variable format too, to support the growing range of different looks for the same icon.

And here‘s the situation with variable fonts. All the main browsers came out with support for them in 2018. Apple’s and Microsoft‘s systems support them (Apple‘s SF Pro system font *is a variable font*). Most of the other main graphics packages support them (Adobe Creative Suite, Sketch, Corel Draw etc.). They are not just the future, but the present too. But Affinity doesn’t see them as a priority. WAKE UP AFFINITY!!! You‘ve put yourselves into the same category as Internet Explorer!

I’m a print designer by background, and fine typography on paper is my first love. But these days, like so many others, I work across physical and digital media. I want the user‘s experience to be consistent across media — I don‘t want to be using one sophisticated font format on the web and a more primitive one in Publlisher/Designer/Photo (which is, ironically, an exact inversion of the first ten years of the web!) Most especially, I don‘t want to be stuck in 2017 forever because I went with the stubborn, knows-better graphics software provider.

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16 hours ago, LondonSquirrel said:

You may not see it as that, but if you are altering the look, spacing, width, etc, of a font that is exactly what you are doing.

Oh I see. In that case, I must admit that I am a font designer, since I do use justified text (which alters letter spacing). It turns out I do that a lot. I never knew I had it in me. 😜 Sometimes I have reasons to change letter spacing for other reasons as well.

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  • 3 weeks later...

It’s about time Serif realized that fonts are a key part of desktop publishing. It is very unusual, to say the least, that after 3 years of user’s requests, the Affinity series still does not support variable fonts and OpenType collections.

6 cœurs, 12 processus - Windows 11 pro - 4K - DirectX 12 - Suite universelle Affinity (Affinity  Publisher, Affinity Designer, Affinity Photo).

Mais je vous le demande, peut-on imaginer une police sans sérifs ?

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26 minutes ago, LondonSquirrel said:

All the examples I have seen showing variable fonts are to do with web site development, none at all for desktop publishing. I'm not saying they can't be used for DTP, but the usage cases seem to be on the web.

I Don't think just looking at a page/book/magazine, you can determine if it's a variable font or not...

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35 minutes ago, LondonSquirrel said:

All the examples I have seen showing variable fonts¹ are to do with web site development

LondonSquirrel, please tell us what is the real reason why you defend this nonsense against all odds.

¹ You forget the Opentype collections. Is this also voluntary?

6 cœurs, 12 processus - Windows 11 pro - 4K - DirectX 12 - Suite universelle Affinity (Affinity  Publisher, Affinity Designer, Affinity Photo).

Mais je vous le demande, peut-on imaginer une police sans sérifs ?

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12 minutes ago, LondonSquirrel said:

That's not how I checked. If I go to Google and search for variable fonts, the top hits are related to using them in CSS. A typical sample from Google itself: 'For its first 20 years, the web had a problem with typography.'

You’ve actually been tricked by Google.
In order to better sell your personal data, this search engine first shows you what matches your interests, then those of other searchers on the data server you depend on. This is the same principle that makes social network users believe that their very marginal opinion is in the majority.

16 minutes ago, LondonSquirrel said:

You seem to have a very particular bee in your bonnet about variable fonts.

Everyone has understood that you do not use variable fonts or Opentype collections. Their main advantage is, of course, to reduce the total weight of a font family and this makes them adopted since their creation in 2016 by the Internet world.

In DTP, it’s been slower, because we often only use a few different fonts in a document, and DTP software has been a little slow to implement them unlike Internet software. In the last couple of years, there has been a growing interest in DTP in this new technique, because many agencies are doing both print and screen, and also because with these fonts, most of the restrictions of DTP are minimized.

In addition, many forges often offer only these formats, which further speeds up the process…

6 cœurs, 12 processus - Windows 11 pro - 4K - DirectX 12 - Suite universelle Affinity (Affinity  Publisher, Affinity Designer, Affinity Photo).

Mais je vous le demande, peut-on imaginer une police sans sérifs ?

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38 minutes ago, LondonSquirrel said:

That's not how I checked. If I go to Google and search for variable fonts, the top hits are related to using them in CSS.

They talked about such fonts in the 90', and it take them 20-30 years to begin working together and try to find a substitute to fonts problems (a lot of files and versions, with different encodings depending on your location, etc.). 

I read articles about them or the main idea when I was a student, and I'm happy to see them coming now.

Especially when OS are completely modified et won't support older fonts for long. It'll be a huge investment, but it means that people won't suffer the different problems we had with font dues to encoding, font versions, corrupted fonts, etc. It'll be simpler.

And we'll have choices, and the typography won't be anymore the "poor relation" ("parent pauvre" in French, the neglected one everyone despise or ignore) in design, with only regular/bold/italic/bold italic.

It'll also be easier to create designs, without needing to discard a lovely font because it's only got the 4 basics variants and you need more.

 

It'll take time, but it'll be better.

And it won't make us font designers! We'll simply use the options or values available in the font, as designed by its creator, nothing more.

 

39 minutes ago, LondonSquirrel said:

A typical sample from Google itself: 'For its first 20 years, the web had a problem with typography.' 

Since Internet came in the 90', and it wasn't possible to easily  include fonts — bandwidth was a real problem, and fonts are heavy —, it was simplest to use the commun fonts installed on each OS. Yes, there was a problem since most interesting or differents fonts were simply images. At least for headers. Or more... in tables!

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@LondonSquirrel Reading you, the impression is rather strange. It is as if, since the Affinity suite does not yet support variable fonts or font collections, you would have to argue strongly that variable fonts and font collections are of no use in print. This reasoning is far from sound. It is also far removed from reality.

Put simply, most text, design and DTP programs support variable fonts and font collections. But the Affinity suite does not yet.

6 cœurs, 12 processus - Windows 11 pro - 4K - DirectX 12 - Suite universelle Affinity (Affinity  Publisher, Affinity Designer, Affinity Photo).

Mais je vous le demande, peut-on imaginer une police sans sérifs ?

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On 2/7/2022 at 5:43 PM, Wosven said:

I Don't think just looking at a page/book/magazine, you can determine if it's a variable font or not...

Bear in mind that the variable font standard was built on Adobe’s Multiple Master and Apple’s TrueType GX formats, both developed in the mid-nineties for print applications. The point of using variable fonts in print (as with MM and TTGX) is the precision and control they provide across the range of axes (weight, optical size, width etc.) and so they can be co-ordinated with fonts used on the web. I‘ve set out some of the arguments for the former, but it‘s also worth considering the latter. Increasingly print and digital projects are intended to go hand-in-hand — printed documents link to websites, websites provide PDFs, etc. It doesn‘t make any sense having different fonts, and font formats, across different media. Variable fonts also conveniently bundle all of the variations within the font into one file.  

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1 minute ago, jamessouttar said:

Bear in mind that the variable font standard was built on Adobe’s Multiple Master and Apple’s TrueType GX formats, both developed in the mid-nineties for print applications.

It also happens to be something of a simplification (reduction) of the type of flexibility that was offered by the even older MetaFont technology originally developed along with TeX.

There are some potential applications in the world of animation too (if the parameters can have keyframes assigned to them to vary them over time), so personally I'm hoping for more motion graphics software to start providing better support for them at some point...

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2 hours ago, LondonSquirrel said:

Can you post a few links to web sites indicating using variable fonts for desktop publishing?

Here's one from the a site I read sometimes for various layout questions:

https://creativepro.com/variable-fonts-in-indesign/

This article requires a subscription to see more than the intro, but in any case it is an example article about the feature when it was new to InDesign. CreativePro was formerly known as InDesignSecrets.com 

 

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57 minutes ago, jamessouttar said:

Bear in mind that the variable font standard was built on Adobe’s Multiple Master and Apple’s TrueType GX formats, both developed in the mid-nineties for print applications. The point of using variable fonts in print (as with MM and TTGX) is the precision and control they provide across the range of axes (weight, optical size, width etc.) and so they can be co-ordinated with fonts used on the web. I‘ve set out some of the arguments for the former, but it‘s also worth considering the latter. Increasingly print and digital projects are intended to go hand-in-hand — printed documents link to websites, websites provide PDFs, etc. It doesn‘t make any sense having different fonts, and font formats, across different media. Variable fonts also conveniently bundle all of the variations within the font into one file.

Don't forget the copyright factor. If itwasas simple as downloading usable fonts for print as downloading them from sites using them, we would go back to the 90', when a lot of people had hundreds or thouthands of fonts freely and without paying anything, since we usually shared working files instead of PDF.

That's why since the 2000 years, Adobe and other companies did a lot of warning and checking to ensure people get the licences for the fonts they used. At the time I worked in a small compagny, and we had to delete most of our fonts and do from scratch, and we just could buy ± 20 font families with the "big" money allocated by our boss. At the same time, founderies sold also bundles, and it was a good thing, or we would have been fed up working with so few fonts and not being able to do what the clients asked for.

Today, some companies are specialised to check fonts in magazines, and asked/checked with the editors to provide the licences. Especially in the market for children, where we tend to use lot of different ones.

 

When needing to update computers, apps, fonts and licences, it's easier to decide when you have few of them than a lot, since the price is really different. We began to work on this few years ago, and Covid and other problems arise… Questions where about using services like Typekit, buying fonts depending of need or punctually, etc. In big companies, there's also other tools needed, for managing the magazines's workflow, archiving, viewing, etc. It's certainly easier to manage "few" font files using variables ones, than a huge library with lot of files, for PC and OS X, etc.

 

"One file for all usages" would be a dream on our side*, but perhaps not for the foundries. I don't know,  I didn't check the last evolutions of this.

 

* But prices are different depending on usage, quantities, time, etc., perhaps having different formats help them keep track of this.

 

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  • 2 weeks later...
On 2/10/2022 at 3:15 PM, Wosven said:

When needing to update computers, apps, fonts and licences, it's easier to decide when you have few of them than a lot, since the price is really different. We began to work on this few years ago, and Covid and other problems arise… Questions where about using services like Typekit, buying fonts depending of need or punctually, etc. In big companies, there's also other tools needed, for managing the magazines's workflow, archiving, viewing, etc. It's certainly easier to manage "few" font files using variables ones, than a huge library with lot of files, for PC and OS X, etc.

Indeed. But many font vendors offer print and webfonts as an either/or/both option, along with licences for other applications, such as apps (MyFonts being the biggest of these). Variable fonts can be in .ttf, .woff and .woff2 formats (as well as .cff2, but this is currently not well supported). Typically one would install the .ttf on devices where one is using the font (e.g. for print) and the .woff or .woff2 format on web servers. This is the same whether one is using static or variable fonts. Variable fonts are just easier to keep track of, since there are one or two files (usually depending on whether roman and italics are included in a single font, or split).

Again, though, I will emphasise that I’m not advocating for variable fonts as a good idea. Variable fonts are happening. They are being driven by the web, but they are beneficial to designers working in physical media as well.

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On 2/10/2022 at 1:09 PM, LondonSquirrel said:

How do PDFs handle variable fonts?

You might remember that the first incarnation of variable fonts, Adobe‘s Multiple Master format, was developed for PDFs. Two families, based on Myriad and Minion, were used to substitute fonts that were not embedded. Since MM fonts were variable, Acrobat produced instances of the fonts on the fly to match the width and weight of the font. Twenty-eight years later, this is still how Acrobat handles substitutions.

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  • 3 weeks later...
On 2/20/2022 at 4:46 PM, LondonSquirrel said:

That wasn't really my question. I have heard of multiple master fonts, but never used them. I'm asking what happens today if you export a PDF from an app which supports variable fonts? How do the fonts appear in the PDF? Because PDF does not actually support variable fonts (according to Adobe). So all this talk of one font for all uses seems very moot if you cannot actually use all those custom weights/slants/etc in PDF. 

Currently, if you export a PDF with variable fonts from InDesign, the software creates static instances of the variable font according to they choices you made. PDF doesn‘t currently offer native support for variable fonts — meaning that the whole font is embedded and remains editable. Adobe don‘t forsee that happening for some time. But as long as the conversion from variable font to font instances works, this is not really an issue. In any case, because of its lack of accessibility, PDF is increasingly being seen as a legacy format. It’s fine as an interchange format for printed documents, but it‘s far from ideal for digital publishing. Given the nature of the PostScript language, which is the very opposite of semantic coding, it‘s hard to see how Adobe could address this (but they still have Framemaker, and perhaps XML and DITA will ultimately become a replacement for PDF).

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7 hours ago, jamessouttar said:

In any case, because of its lack of accessibility, PDF

I thought PDF had gained accessibility features?

 

-- Walt
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On 3/11/2022 at 11:50 AM, walt.farrell said:

I thought PDF had gained accessibility features?

 

Yes, but that‘s the point. PDF has been made more accessible, but this requires adding accessibility features through Acrobat Pro, and exporting an Accessible PDF. That‘s certainly something to celebrate. Nonetheless it contrasts poorly with the Semantic Markup approach which is implicit in markup languages such as SGML, HTML and XML (and even Markdown). PostScript is a page description language, and its primary concern is where things are on a page, and how they look, rather than what they are. That‘s why when one imports a PDF into, for instance, Designer, text can be broken up into separate segments (and why Designer has to try to reassemble paragraphs) — it‘s not together, as a semantic entity, in the original file.

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  • 3 weeks later...

Figma now has support for RTL fonts (for Arabic, Persian, Urdu, Hebrew etc.) and has supported variable fonts — through a plug-in — for some time already. Over the last few years I’ve been a big Affinity fan, and supporter, but Affinity is slipping behind when it comes to typography (there are still some rough edges with font support, especially for those with lots of alternatives and contextual features). Type is central to what most of us use Affinity applications for (especially Publisher) and I’d like to see their type handling be ahead of the curve, rather than perpetually languishing behind it. 

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