Using opentype for a family

smongey's picture

I was wondering is it possible to have several weights and their italics of a particular typeface built into one .otf file. In the same manner that stylistic sets are used to have alternative characters for certain glyphs could this be used to house an entire family?



Cristobal Henestrosa's picture

Technically it is possible to include weights and italics inside the regular font as stylistic sets. But if the software that uses the font doesn’t recognize OT features, you’ll have a normal typeface with no access to anything else.

If you use the font in a software that does recognize OT features, then your weights and italics could be lost if at some point you decide to switch to any other font.

Nick Cooke's picture

It is possible, but why would you want to do that?

smongey's picture

My reasoning was that one single font file would be more efficient than 6+. My fonts folder on my machine is a labyrinth of files and folder and I wondered if anybody had done this.

I was also curious to see if anybody had done anything slightly unorthodox using opentype features.

Thanks for the response.

Cristobal Henestrosa's picture

Sorry for being too obvious, but a good management font software seems to be a better solution for that.

Nick Shinn's picture

I was also curious to see if anybody had done anything slightly unorthodox using opentype features.

Micha Mirck's picture

There can be use for such a thing. An educational publisher in the Netherlands has a special writing system. In the example you can see different kind of 'i-j' ligatures, The so called IJ of ij in Dutch. Depending on the position, ij.begin, ij.alt1-3 or ij.end is used. In this way al characters can be connected.
In this writing method, there is also an example showing how a character should be written. These characters (and the 2 thin ones) could have been placed into another font, but that font wouldn't have the joining character. That might cause some confusion.
With this font the designer doesn't have to switch between typefaces. If they want to show a single character, the normal version is selected (ij). By choosing the appropriate stylistic set, they can have the version with the arrows (ij.arr) or the thin version (ij,thin or ij.thin.arr). The font also contains special symbols in other stylistic sets.
The feedback from the people using the font was that this system worked much easier and with hardly any mistakes, when compared to all the different fonts they used in the past.

blokland's picture

Just for the record:
The ij-variants shown here are part of Pennenstreken, a writing method for primary schools. More than fifteen years ago –when we still did work for third parties– this system was digitized at the Dutch Type Library for the publisher Zwijsen.

Until that time the instruction books, cards and games for Pennenstreken were handwritten and during digitizing I found out that there were many inconsistencies in the method that were circumvented by the calligrapher, who did this work for a long time then (I am not sure if she was pleased with the stuff going digital). So, I had to define a range of medial variants to make any combination of letters possible. The number of variants furthermore increased by the isolated, initial and final versions and the thinner versions for larger point sizes and the ones that contained info about the writing direction, instruction/practicing shapes, and so on.

The letters that formed the basis in the initial instruction books were enlarged and we manually digitized these in the IKARUS format. Further enhancements and refinements were applied in the Bezier format. As one can imagine, we ended up with an enormous amount of glyphs, which had to be placed in single byte PS Type1 fonts. I made a system for this and used for instance style linking for switching between the different variants. Of course, this resulted in a comprehensive manual that I wrote for the people working in Quark XPress on the instruction books and other stuff. The whole project asked for a perfect administration and organization, but it was complex still for the designers to apply the correct glyph variants.

When the Dutch Type Library stopped working for third parties at the end of the 1990’s (from that time on we only focus on the DTL typefaces and software), I transferred the copyright on the digital Pennestreken types to the publisher. As far as I know the first OpenType fonts were developed at a later stage internally at Zwijsen using FontLab Studio.

Let me underline here that I was not responsible in any way for the method itself. I tried to discuss the ideas and principles behind the system, but these methods are developed in an obviously closed environment of all kinds of educational experts. Anyway, as I wrote, this project was done a long time ago.

smongey's picture

Wow! Interesting reading and links provided! Thanks a million. This is what I was looking for in terms of what’s out there. I’ll continue my research and post any interesting finds here.

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