Up close and personal font comparer (in browser)

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mangledorf's picture
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Joined: 2 Aug 2009 - 10:57am
Up close and personal font comparer (in browser)
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Hey all,
This is my first post. I have been a silent viewer for a while now.
I've written an applet that allows the user to compare any two fonts on her machine. The applet let's the user fine tune sizes and location allowing for a close-up and detailed font comparison. It's a java applet that runs in the browser (as long as you have java enabled):
http://www.alecjacobson.com/weblog/?p=89

Let me know what you think and if you have any suggestions for improvements!
Thanks

Penn Glendinning's picture
Joined: 25 Jul 2008 - 1:09pm
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Really cool idea and great execution.

The only thing I'm questioning is the sole ability to compare fonts on one's own machine. Should there be a way to compare fonts that one doesn't have/own the rights to? Though I'm not sure how that would happen without necessitating a rather hefty online database.

Anyway, like I said, great job so far. And I appreciate the ability to freely move around the two specimens. You may also think about incorporating some form of guide system, so the user can align the two fonts more easily.

penn

mangledorf's picture
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Joined: 2 Aug 2009 - 10:57am
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Yeah. I totally wish that I could include fonts the user doesn't have/own the rights to.
I will look into the possibility of hosting all of my existing fonts (I have quite a few) and then having an option to load (my) external fonts.

Guide system is a great idea. I will certainly throw some graph paper in the background, at least. Do you think "snapping" like Adobe products would be worthwhile as an option? Or just an annoyance?

mightythylacine's picture
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Joined: 31 Jul 2009 - 4:13pm
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This is a fantastic idea. I'm adding to to my delicious account, noting it on stumbleupon and telling all my friends!

I agree with pennANDink the ability to move the specimens around was a great idea.

good work!

mangledorf's picture
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Joined: 2 Aug 2009 - 10:57am
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Thanks!

I added three new features: if you type grid that will toggle a graph paper background, switch will switch the two fonts (so you drag the other one, just in case that feels better) and random just for fun, will select to fonts at random. Let me know if these features are dumb/too hard to use etc. Thanks.

Penn Glendinning's picture
Joined: 25 Jul 2008 - 1:09pm
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If possible I think there should be a type field to change the text. Also scaling should be made more intuitive through a pull down menu as opposed to pushing the left or right arrows. Also, the switch/grid functions should probably be check boxes rather than typed commands. Also, when I type switch, I still can only move the red one.

I like the grid system you have there—it makes it really easy to line them up

Good work so far :)

penn

Theunis de Jong's picture
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Joined: 22 Apr 2008 - 5:06pm
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That looks cool enough to be implemented into existing Font Managers, or even in a program like InDesign! When I have to combine any two fonts into one document, I always have a go at getting their optical sizes right -- not just the "point size".

But I'm finding my old IE keeps the focus on one of the drop down lists, so I can't use the arrows without selecting another font at the same time ?:(
(Don't worry -- I'll try tomorrow on an up-to-date IE.)

mangledorf's picture
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Joined: 2 Aug 2009 - 10:57am
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Many thanks again for the suggestions and compliments. I have a much changed (an hopefully much improved) version up now, still at http://alecjacobson.com/programs/font/java/. The old version is still available for comparison's sake, now at http://alecjacobson.com/programs/font/java/old. I implemented some sliders for the sizes, handles for dragging both fonts, a text field (with the option of inputting the old way because I was used to that and why not), and some buttons.

Still haven't found a way to easily host fonts users might not have locally.

Anyway, enjoy and keep the suggestions and comments coming.

Theunis de Jong's picture
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Joined: 22 Apr 2008 - 5:06pm
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Hey, that's already much better! The size bars are an improvement, as even the very latest IE keeps keyboard focus on either the dropdownlists or the text input box.

But the size bars are a bit small ... It must be the long font names in my system:

And apparently, the Windows version doesn't see OpenType fonts, just TTFs, but I'm fully prepared to blaim the Java implementation for that (I'm using Sun's own, also the latest).

Theunis de Jong's picture
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Joined: 22 Apr 2008 - 5:06pm
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(Addendum) Is there room to show the respective size ratio in percentage?

Frank E. Blokland's picture
Joined: 28 Mar 2003 - 12:31pm
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mangledorf's picture
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Joined: 2 Aug 2009 - 10:57am
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@Theunis de Jong, Thanks for uploading the screenshot. I don't have access to PC right now, so it helps a lot to see how this is showing up on other browsers.

I have included info boxes (which can be toggled to show pt size or %) and I put the sliders on their own row (does this look better on IE?). Hopefully things aren't getting too crowded.

I'm not sure what's up with the OpenType fonts not showing up. I will look into it, but it might take a while before I can work on a windows machine.

Newest version: http://alecjacobson.com/programs/font/java/
Previous versions: http://alecjacobson.com/programs/font/java/old

Theunis de Jong's picture
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Joined: 22 Apr 2008 - 5:06pm
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Alec, looking great!

No OTFs on 2 different computers, though. Just hold; I'll get the latest Firefox/Win and test on that as well.

Craig Eliason's picture
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Joined: 19 Mar 2004 - 1:44pm
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How about if I hold down shift and drag the position handle, it would constrain movement to horizontal or vertical?

mangledorf's picture
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Joined: 2 Aug 2009 - 10:57am
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@Theunis de Jong, thanks for the screen shot again. Still waiting to get on a windows machine to check things out.

@eliason, great idea. I added that. Same place: http://alecjacobson.com/programs/font/java/ (you might have to restart your browser to see the change). Was something like that what you had in mind?

Craig Eliason's picture
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Joined: 19 Mar 2004 - 1:44pm
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Terrific!

Rob Barba's picture
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Joined: 15 Jul 2009 - 2:19pm
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This might be a minor thing, but I would suggest some way of changing the default colors. It doesn't bother me personally, but I'm sure there may be someone out there that might be jarred by it. Maybe a small dropdown next to each list where they can change the colors?

On a related note, for the same reason as above, I suggest that the font colors should not be within the fontlists. The blue especially might make it hard for some people to read the titles (as the font names are coming in black).

Other than that, great job!

mangledorf's picture
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Joined: 2 Aug 2009 - 10:57am
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@Megami, Thanks for the suggestions and compliments. I implemented a color chooser in the newest version (same place: http://alecjacobson.com/programs/font/java/). Also, I'm guessing you are running this on a Windows machine (I only have access to a Mac for a while), so I can only guess that I fixed the colors within the fontlists. Please let me know if the newest version works as you'd expect on your machine.