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Re: .screenfonts

From: karsten luecke <list@kltf.de>
Date: Wed, 29 Jul 2009 13:05:51 +0200 (MEST)
Message-Id: <200907291105.n6TB5pAK021279@post.webmailer.de>
To: www-font@w3.org
Hello Gustavo,

>>> I believe the divide will be between "screen text fonts" and
>>> "other fonts", or "size specific fonts" and "scalable fonts"
>>> – not TTF vs CFF.
>>
>> On what basis do you believe this?
>
> On the basis of my own experiments, and on the basis of ideas/
> protypes shown by David Berlow:
>
> http://www.rogerblack.com/blog/screen_fonts_history
> (http://typophile.com/node/60281)
> http://www.fontbureau.com/test/franky/

As clever as I think this approach is, I disagree with the philosophy on which it is based. The merit of outline fonts is that they are, at least in principle, ignorant of output devices, their underlying technologies and resolutions. The approach you refer to however centers around technology and resolution.

There are two types of "specific-ness" that should not be mixed up:
1. SIZE-SPECIFIC design in the sense that it addresses different type sizes (measured in pt, mm, etc) is a good thing. The "one outline for all sizes" approach that outline fonts brought with them results in a compromise, the design needs to serve both very small and very large sizes.
2. Size-specific design in the Berlow-sense is not size-specific but PPEM-SPECIFIC design. This addresses not visual but very specific technical circumstances.

For this reason I cannot fully agree with:

> Size-specific fonts are rasterizer- and technology-independent
> because they use outlines which are grid-fitted by design. If
> used in the correct PPEM size they 'just work' -- the proportions
> match the pixel grid and produce predictable bitmap letter shapes.

This is correct -- but once real-world screen resolutions go up considerably, your typeface for which you served text to headline size fonts, suddenly is useful only for micro sizes.
Or put differently: If you make fonts for specific hardware devices, offering such ppem-specific designs is a good idea (and why not spec a ppem-flag in such ppem-specific fonts and ask rasterizers to respect this?), but less so if you make general-purpose fonts that may not even be rasterized at all (think of plotters).

> I guess the OpenType 'size' feature is the right place to adress this issue.

Having made the 1. size-specific vs 2. ppem-specific distinction, I think that the size feature is NOT the appropriate place.
There should be a ppem-flag for this.

Best wishes,
Karsten
Received on Wednesday, 29 July 2009 11:11:53 GMT

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