An announcement last week has pretty much rocked the type development world.
An update to the OpenType specification (v1.8) was announced at a typography industry event in Warsaw, Poland called ATypI. Didn’t make it to Warsaw for the conference? Here’s a video recording of the session.
While the release of a new specification might not seem like earth-shattering news, the inclusion of “variable fonts,” and the partnership of the big players to make it happen was big news. Microsoft, Apple, Adobe and Google all came together to make the specification something that they could all get behind.
So what exactly are “variable fonts?”
Variable fonts can be changed along multiple “axes” – by weight, width, optical size, slant or italic. These settings can be set by YOU, the designer.
What this means is you can implement a font, say on a website, and only need to implement one font, rather than multiple faces, to get the job done. In current web development, for example, you need to script in a normal, bold, italic and bold-italic font files to cover the typical weights required in body copy. In the future, with a “variable font” you will use one font file and specify how the font needs to vary for each text element.
The result is a faster websites for your readers, and the gratitude of your IT department as your web hosting costs go down. Mic drop, slow clap, walking away from an explosion, yada yada.
What shall these the new fonts be called?
If you know the type development community, you already know that there are bound to be a wide variety of opinions.
Let’s nip this in the bud and agree to immediately stop calling variable fonts “super fonts”. Please.
— Nick Sherman (@NickSherman) September 18, 2016
Of course, we might end up having different foundries calling them different things (Variable Fonts, Dynamic Fonts, Super Fonts, Modern Multiple Master, who knows). In the end you can be sure that you’ll be getting a better product that comes in a smaller file size – no matter what the name.
Extensis Support of Variable Fonts
The main technological needs to support of these files comes from the major players who are already onboard – Microsoft, Google, Apple and Adobe. As support begins to be implemented, Extensis font managers will inherit much of their support naturally through OS support. We will also of course fully test and update our applications to meet the demands of the new formats.
We are also keenly interested in responding to the needs of the creative community as they evolve.
So, what features would be most helpful to you? Sliders in Suitcase Fusion and Universal Type Client that show the different variations possible? Specific metrics required reported in Extensis apps so that you can get the best results in your designs? You tell us.
We want to know what you think – drop us a line in the comments below.
There has been a bunch of interest in this topic in the type design community and beyond. Check out these other articles:
- John Hudson’s detailed article on Medium
- Typekit blog
- Microsoft’s overview
- Discussion on TypeDrawers
- Matthew Butterick’s takedown
- Typographica’s commentary
- David Berlow of Font Bureau gives his support
- Web typography guru Jason Pamantal reviews the changes
- Designmodo’s intro for web designers
- Viljami Salminen’s ntroduction including code examples
Apple releases their newest operating system, macOS Sierra on September 20, 2016.
As we know that many users are excited to update as quickly as possible, we have been testing Extensis software with Sierra. The following are current details about compatibility.
- Suitcase Fusion 7 (v18.1.1 and newer) has been tested and is compatible with macOS Sierra (v10.12)
- Previous versions of Suitcase Fusion have not been tested, use at your own risk.
Universal Type Server
- Initial tests of Universal Type Client 6 indicate that the current version (v6.1.0) is compatible with macOS Sierra.
- Due to new macOS permissions, Universal Type Server may encounter a service interruption after upgrading to macOS Sierra.
Installing the latest Universal Type Server 6.1.1 release over your current installation will restore all functionality without causing data loss.
- There are no known issues with users accessing Portfolio catalogs with the web clients on macOS Sierra.
- When installing macOS Sierra on a server running Portfolio 2016, the server will stop functioning. Re-install Portfolio 2016 on the machine and functionality will be restored without any data loss.
For the most current information about supported software configurations see these pages:
- Suitcase Fusion Compatibility
- Universal Type Server Compatibility
- Universal Type Client Compatibility
- Portfolio Compatibility
September 16th, 2016 by Jim Kidwell
It’s important to protect your investment. In this case it’s the cost of your entire font collection.
Suitcase Fusion makes it easy to archive your collection for safe keeping. See how.
Want to try it yourself? It’s easy to do.
September 16th, 2016 by Jim Kidwell
Protecting fonts in your collection isn’t as tough as you might think.
Suitcase Fusion allows you to store your fonts in the Extensis cloud with TypeSync.
Fonts are kept on both your machine, as well as in the cloud. It’s a great way to keep two machines in sync.
Want to try TypeSync? Download a free trial.
Need help getting started with your new font manager? We’ve made it easy.
Watch this short video to learn how to get going with Suitcase Fusion 7.
Don’t have Suitcase Fusion 7 yet? Try it out free for 30 days.
September 2nd, 2016 by Jim Kidwell
Sometimes teaching people a new technical skill is a more difficult task than required.
Case in point, telling your boss how to install a font on their computer. Not a fun task.
Why not just shoot her a quick PNG of the font in question and call it a day? It’s easy to do with Suitcase Fusion 7. Check it out.
Want to try it yourself? It’s easy to do.
August 26th, 2016 by Jim Kidwell
Using fonts in video compositions with Adobe After Effects can be a real PITA. It’s often difficult to locate where fonts are missing, and often leads to choosing pre-rendered video rather than messing with live fonts in video.
Suitcase Fusion 7 makes it a bit easier to work with live fonts by providing a font auto-activation plug-in for Adobe After Effects. When you open a composition, the plug-in automatically locates and activates required fonts. Check it out in this video.
Ready to check it out with your copy of After Effects?
August 19th, 2016 by Jim Kidwell
Suitcase Fusion can manage your fonts without always running because of a handy little application called the Type Core. This app runs in the background all the time and ensures that fonts are activated when required by your professional design applications.
Want to learn more about the Type Core? We’ve made it easy. Sit back and watch this short video.
Want to test how Suitcase Fusion will work on your system? It’s easy with a free trial.
August 17th, 2016 by Jim Kidwell
Learn font distribution best practices so you don’t get caught in a font licensing conundrum
Think of font distribution as a process. Not only does it keep your fonts organized and efficiently distributed, it also helps you maintain the appropriate number of font licenses by helping track which fonts are authorized, purchased, shared (with appropriate team members), and reviewed.
A proper font distribution process helps in many areas:
- Time and money spent. Incorrect font usage can cause unnecessary misprints from text reflows and require reprints that waste time and money.
- Tracking issues. Without a proper font distribution process, your team has little (if any) insight into which fonts are being used. Some fonts may be underutilized which can result in purchasing more font licenses than needed. Proper tracking and reporting give you a meaningful way to make future font purchase decisions.
- Unhappy employees. Confusion and frustration reign when your design team can’t find the fonts they need when they need them. Life is easier when a process is in place that allows them to find what they are looking for.
- Legal concerns regarding font licensing. Without a controlled distribution and system of font access, unlicensed fonts can gain easy access into your organization or even worse, custom fonts could be released into the wild. All of which could potentially lead to a lawsuit.
Read on to learn font distribution basics and best practices to help alleviate these potential problems.
Five Font Distribution Best Practices
1. Decide how you want to organize your font collection
We recommend organizing your teams by workgroups. Workgroups are groups of fonts and users. Basically, you give a specific number of users access to specific fonts. Below are three common methods to choose from.
User Type: user types may vary, but we commonly hear about editorial, design, and production user types. These different groups have different needs and will use fonts for different reasons so it makes sense for some organizations to divide their font teams by user type.
Client: Every client is unique and so are the fonts they are using. For example, Times New Roman was built specifically for the Times of London. Companies want a specific brand identity and they can do this by creating and commissioning their own typeface, or selecting groups of fonts that most effectively represent their brand.
Project: Just like each client is unique, so is each project. However, since projects don’t have to be client specific, sometimes grouping by project makes more sense.
2. Set up compliance using permissions
One of the easiest ways to be compliant and avoid piracy issues is to set up user permissions. Instead of a whole department or company having access to certain fonts, only people who need rights to particular fonts have permission to use them. Permissions ensure your company is following branding guidelines and avoiding even inadvertent piracy because users can only use approved and/or purchased fonts that they have access to.
3. Choose roles
Who is going to be choosing, purchasing, and uploading fonts into your system? Is it your Lead Graphic Designer? Is it someone in your IT department? Having a key person who is in charge of this process helps you avoid a guessing game that can lead to problems.
4. Keep record of your font licenses and track usage
When you’re managing the distribution of your fonts, you can gain a level of control over font compliance. You have direct access into who has access to your fonts, and how many users are activating them. This helps ensure you have the right number of licenses for your actual usage and lets you make improved future font purchasing decisions – remember when we discussed saving time and money? This is your ticket to doing just that. Keeping track of all this can be a huge challenge, but font management software can help you.
5. Pick the right enterprise font management software:
Having reliable, robust font management software to save time, money, and maintain license compliance is key to making font distribution possible and successful. Look for a solution that has a dashboard allowing you to easily compare fonts side by side. Check for the ability to search for a font by specific type and set up user permissions by workgroups. Make sure reports are available so you are able to see if more font licenses need to be purchased or scaled back for future use.
What does your font distribution process look like? Let us know in the comments section.
August 12th, 2016 by Jim Kidwell
Have a ton of fonts? Of course you do. For those of us who love fonts, collecting them is often a hobby that we are unable to give up (nor should we).
Suitcase Fusion makes it easy to locate fonts in your collection. Check it out in this video.
It’s easy to load your font collection into Suitcase Fusion. Try it yourself for free.