In doing some Googling for the recent spacing threads, I came across an intriguing project called iKern, by the Italian engineer Igino Marini. He claims better results than InDesign, but of course I wanted to see for myself, so I took him up on his oﬀer to generate spacing data for fonts sent in.
|iKern vs Adobe InDesign’s optical kerning
ccat_ikern_a.pdf (25.4 k)
I am extremely impressed. Please see for yourself. I believe that iKern achieves the evenness of gap spacing that Hrant favored from the InDesign sample, while avoiding the stem spacing irregularites so important at text sizes. It is taut where it needs to be taut (note especially the contrast for pairs such as vi and ty), but avoids overkerning round-diagonal pairs such as ovo and ex.
Inigo writes that there are a number of tunable parameters in iKern, which would certainly broaden the palette if made available to skilled designers. Inigo also sent me a tight version that looks like it would be very good for display settings.
Inigo is making iKern available as a no-cost service, but I think the technology is deserving of a much wider audience. It will be interesting to see to what extent the market encourages or impedes the development and deployment of superior technology. In any case, I encourage typophiles to check it out.