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For those following issues related to rendering type in Windows browsers...
Based on comments at ATypI, Firefox seems to be going down the DirectWrite path too.
Adobe make their OpenType FDK code available for free
If I'm out to lunch, it certainly won't be the first or last time. The impression I got was that there were tools outside of the FDK. I'm going to ask the person I got the info from if I've got this right. Probably not if you don't think so. Thanks. I'll check.
The learning curve seems to me to be as high as the software demands, and isn’t some kind of artificial construct.
Look, you and Ross can probably navigate around in VTT like it was Windows Notepad. But that's a result of years of working with it. There was a lot of trial and error, I'm sure, that you dimly remember if at all.
I could be out to lunch on this, too, but I suspect you may be too close to it to fairly judge. Once you lose those newbie eyes, that's that. It's really hard to take a fresh look.
When it first appeared I paid special attention to this:
It's an Adobe Flex app put together by Miguel Sousa in conjuction with a post about text rendering in the new NYTimes Reader.
This seemed like the basis for one heckuva lot friendlier interface for hinting than I'm seeing in VTT.
Anyway, you don't need to be a forensic scientist to spot the cobwebs on the Microsoft Typography site or to notice that WEFT hasn't been updated since 2003 (with no talk of doing so, either - I guess the ball is in Ascender's court now).
And the stark difference in rendering between Mac and Windows - at least at larger text sizes - is an embarassment, really. I just get the overall impression that the attitude towards font-creation tools and documentation has been that they're good enough and there's no great need to make them appreciably more accessible to the average type designer, let alone the average would-be type designer.
I understand that the market for such tools is limited. This isn't ASP.NET. But I think MSFT gets enough competitive advantage out of its investment in fonts to expect more. I'm sure sii wouldn't complain if his department's budget were to expand.
BTW - I do think @font-face will create a great desire for educational materials aimed at those without formal training in design.
Being able to use fonts in web pages will really be a huge change. Hard to predict what's going to happen when you can design a font and get an instant worldwide viewing.
Look at Flickr and photography, YouTube and video, Google Blogger and bullshit.
You saw my invisible subtext, did you?
No, I don't think so. I'm all ears as to any suggestions.
Rich, I never said that VTT was easy to learn, only that a) the learning curve is commensurate with the complexity of the software and the job that it does and b) it is less steep than learning to hint at the actual instruction level or even in the TypeManTalk language that preceded VTT. Your comments implied that MS was somehow ‘keeping’ VTT difficult to learn, suggesting that it could be easier. I don't think VTT could be much easier than it is, and if you want something easier then use a less complex (and less powerful) tool such as FontLab Studio, which is adequate for a lot of jobs.
> MS was somehow ‘keeping’ VTT difficult to learn
I agree that this is absolutely not true. Since Y's highest quality is achievable without it, VTT is essentially for X. X hints being rarely if ever interpreted (to a useful result for text), MS could easily be said to have helped make VTT extremely easy to learn. The Mac doesn't need VTT's capabilities at all, and windows has too many behaviors. So, VTT is no longer an expert's choice for web font development. That leaves the 'high end TT hinting" Thomas refers to, which has, most unfortunately, become uncoupled from web font quality, where they once were 'one'.
The impression I got was that there were tools outside of the FDK.
There aren't "tools" in the sense of applications or the like. There's a motley collection of Python scripts. Some of those, many of the key ones, are already in the FDK. Basically Adobe is licensing for free all its most valuable code related to making fonts. Besides the code used to actually compile OpenType features and OT-CFF fonts, there's the CompareFamily tool, the Adobe auto-hinter and the obscure-yet-powerful TX conversion tool. Adobe's licensing its crown jewels of font development for free. There's certainly no attempt or desire to keep anything of great consequence proprietary.
@tp, jh, db:
Thanks for clearing things up.
> Adobe’s licensing its crown jewels of font development for free.
You're makin' me wonder how "crown jewels" are defined out west?
"...makin’ me wonder how “crown jewels” are defined..."
In inner-city Pittsburgh, where I grew up, there was a more visceral meaning--or was that "family jewels"? :-)