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So far the SVG OpenType project has been discussed only on email lists dedicated to specifications. I wanted to bring it up on Typophile since it will feature in discussions at TypeCon next week.
For a couple of years now Adobe has been working with Mozilla and others in a W3C community group to work out details around a proposal to extend OpenType with an optional ‘SVG ‘ table to allow for SVG-quality glyph descriptions, including color gradients and animation. The main use cases are creative titling and similar display uses, as well as emoji. Mozilla has had an implementation of the 'SVG ' table in Firefox for a year now, and we're currently all working on putting together an official draft for the font standard, getting the tooling in order, and sharing our ideas for these kind of richly expressive fonts.
Microsoft recently announced a color font implementation http://typophile.com/node/104174, which has brought the larger discussion about color fonts to the fore again. Everything Microsoft has included is clearly a step in the right direction. Our interest in SVG (which offers a superset of the features in the Microsoft implementation) is based on the belief that while flat color areas are good, other features of SVG are also valuable. In particular, gradations and animation add significantly to the expressive potential of graphic images. And while all the current color font implementations (unofficial bitmap formats from both Apple and Google, and now Microsoft’s outlines) appear to be driven largely by the desire to support emoji, the potential uses are much broader. We believe that when extending the OpenType format it’s important to look beyond the immediate use case and to build for the future. Now is the time to make sure we’re enabling what’s needed in the next decade.
Some existing bitmapped emoji designs already use gradations and animation to help communicate the icons’ meaning in the small space allotted. Adobe did some design explorations with emoji a couple years ago, but more recently we’ve been thinking about the benefit gradations and animation would bring to letterforms. My team is putting together a few examples to hint at the kind of opportunities this would bring, and I’m sure many designers on Typophile will come up with others we haven’t even thought of. We hope to have a handful of things to demonstrate at TypeCon next week, and will post links to samples in this thread as well. You can see some initial examples of animated emoji explorations at http://www.adobe.com/devnet-apps/type/EmojiGradient.html.
If you’re curious for additional details in the meantime, Caleb Belohlavek, Adobe’s product manager for type, has sent out a list of requirements and a value proposition: http://lists.w3.org/Archives/Public/public-svgopentype/2013Jul/0004.html.