ATypI 2012 Hong Kong: Day 2 Afternoon Sessions

These are live blog notes from the 2012 ATypI in Hong Kong, 11 October 2012.

Usual disclaimer for live blogging: These are informal notes taken by Dave Crossland at the event, and may or may not be similar to what was said by the people who spoke on these topics. Probably if something here is incorrect it is because Dave mistyped it or misunderstood, and if anyone wants corrections, they should email him immediately ( – or post a comment.

14:00 Making CJK web fonts faster – Brian Stell

You can subset based on common character usage stats

You can subset for a given page, 1,400 chars for 99% of the pages.

A typical CCJK page only uses 5% of the characters in the Big5 set.

the GLYF table is 80-90%+ of a font’s data.

Google Web Fonts subsetting, for Latin this per-page subsetting is a big win. The text= parameter doesn’t have range support so its limited to 60 chars (?)

Page subsetting COULD be done all on the server but its not yet done anywhere.

HTML5 file system is local disk speed, its a web standard although its only implemented on Chrome. I’d like Mozilla to join in on this, I don’t know about MSIE. Can be used normally or used as a background process and then appears on 2nd time. a flash of loading at 0.5s is super annoying.

Load and use next time is great, if you know users will visit multiple times.

Lazy loading is a programmer term, you load the parts as you need them. This loads just what a page needs now, but each chunk is re-usable by all other pages, so over time the whole font will be loaded.

We do this by creating a ’empty’ version of the font, with 000s in the glyph table space, and a gzip compression will turn that from a 18mb of glyph data to just 5 bytes. I’ve started this as a libre software project:

I hope to ship working code for this in the coming summer, and it only works on Chrome now but I know Mozilla plans to implement the required parts.

I’m now working on HTML5 ‘Load and use later’ for Google services.


Thomas Phinney: Having the client merge in the fonts?

Brian Stell: Yes

Thomas Phinney: Where does the merging happen?

Brian Stell: The client is a small library, but the server needs some magic sauce.

Font production

14:25 Managing font families just got a lot easier – Adam Twardoch / Yuri Yarmola

FontLab just makes type design software.

What have we done recently? We released Fontographer for Mac OS X. It simple, robust, It Just Works.

A free update for Mac and Windows is available today on

We released FontLab Studio 5.3 for Mac, as a preview, 2.5x faster, 500+ bugs fixed, new ADobe FDK 2.5, many other things.

FontLab Studio 5.2 for Windows has a preview today. You can finally preview OpenType features in the metrics window.

We have a new codebase, Victoria.

Design process isn’t a big problem for designers. They want technical stuff to just work. Like font families. There’s FLS, Fontographer, DTL, Glyphs, RoboFont, FontForge. All these tools have trouble making families that just work.

There are 2 naming systems. Styling groups must be in sets of 4, then theres the extra stuff. There is complex technical information to memorise. Designers get frustrated with this, unless you are a technical expert.

Our new technology makes this easier. We looked at our Font Editors and realised a typical editor isn’t designed for families; like Photoshop isn’t made for managing photos, like Lightroom.

TransType takes a different view to fonts, it was a Mac/PC conversion tool but that use is over. So we took our Victoria tech to TransType for organizing font families in a ‘just works’ way.


Select all styles, ‘Optimal Family’ and all the width/weight information is analysed and used. Regular and Bold have 4 members, and oethers just 2, regular and italic. Thats the recommended method.

You can change this, make the black a bold of the medium. You just drag and drop them into these 2×2 squares. No more check boxes, no more tables. When you’re done you pick the target font format – we still didn’t pin them all down – and select an output folder and how to structure that output and click the ‘play’ icon to convert, and you get the fonts re-organized.

Linotype used to release 2 sets of fonts, one with style linking and one with all fonts in their own name.

There is a side panel with al the metadata inside the families.

It opens VFBs and UFOs. These UFOs have 10,000 glyphs, 50Mb of data, opens very fast.

If you open 2 fonts like an Extra Light and a Black, there is a ‘filter’ menu, and this allows us to very simply interpolate these fonts.

There is a rounding filter, so I can quickly make rounded editions.

There is a distortion effect.

I have a fake Bold and Italic tool.

It supports Overlay fonts, Chromatic Fonts, to create using the ‘overlay’ operation, and export a PDF from Chromatic ‘multi layer’ fonts.

It is not yet available, it will come out December 1st.

Yuri will now show something else.

This is a DTP page showing the font nicely. If you zoom in, you can select a glyph and make in place editing right in the page window. If you look at this, its our Dynamic Shapes tech. The serif is converted to a Dynamic Shape. The junction will stick to a stem. They are intelligent symbols.

We have better annotations.

We have a nice sticky guidelines with section counting. Our measure tool is very smart.

We really wanted to move away from many windows for different views of type. We want a single view where you can have a paragraph of text, and you can zoom in to a single glyph. Edit everything in context, in place, all the time.

14:50 GlyphWiki: a wiki-based glyph design and font production system – Taichi Kawabata / Kamichi Koichi

How to encode and display unencoded glyphs?

Anyone can create a glyph and name it, embed it, as font or image data.

270,000 glyphs made here.

You can use existing components from prior glyphs, and place them.

15:15 Glyphs and non-Latin typefaces – Georg Seifert

I’m a type designer in Berlin, here is some of my work, I did a new type for the Berlin airport, and I made my own type design tool, Glyphs App.

I had some basic ideas from the start, as Adam said, I implemented the idea that you draw in place. I heard it was 2 days of work to do VOLT arabic mark placement. I take some arabic text from a test doucment, switch to RTL mode, you can see the FEA code is generated automatically. I add anchors from the menu with default positions.

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