– Mark E. Smith

Liveblogging a presentation at TypeTech, ATypI Brighton 2007 (q.v.)

I arrived late after having to be guided over hill and dale to find the conference room. The full title is “Pretty features: Best practices in defining and implementing OpenType layout features for European fonts.” Adam Twardoch may be the last living European wearing a fauxhawk.

TWARDOCH: Unicode is really interested only in the linguistic variations of characters; OpenType handles the visual variations. The glyph name in Unicode does not really have any suffixes and represents the character even in applications that do not have layout features.

But in OpenType, smcp (small caps) would substitute the default glyph for a small cap. fina (final form) would substitute one with a squiggle at the end. Or a stylistic alternate, salt (but there’s also one called swash, swsh; there is no standard as to how designers associate those with actual designs). You could follow, say, Underware’s or FontShop’s or Microsoft’s way of implementing the features.

Adobe has revised its way of thinking several times since the first OpenType fonts were released in ’88/’89. The initial version of Adobe Garamond Pro, from today’s point of view, is very dated and has some practices that Thomas Phinney or David Lemon would say “No, no, don’t do that.” But there are newer versions now where they have sort of updated the fonts to their current practice. The best thing to do is to look at the most recent fonts, like Rialto Pro, Garamond Premier Pro, Arno Pro, Hypatia Sans Pro. Definitely don’t look at the old stuff.

Application-wise, the problem, though it isn’t one that you have to “solve” in a single solution, is that applications support layout features differently. InDesign does it differently from Illustrator from Quark 7 from TextEdit or Keynote or Pages. There aren’t that many platforms to check against, but there are a couple. (Shows an illegible table of them.) Look at the two most recent versions from each application. Word 2007 supports layout features only for complex scripts like Arabic, not Latin.

(Question about petite caps: It was registered by John Hudson because Emigre’s Mrs[.] Eaves had two sets of small caps, small and petite.)

You don’t have to think that certain glyphs have to be accessible only through one feature.

The foregoing posting appeared on Joe Clark’s personal Weblog on 2007.09.12 11:46. This presentation was designed for printing and omits components that make sense only onscreen. (If you are seeing this on a screen, then the page stylesheet was not loaded or not loaded properly.) The permanent link is:

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