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Typography.Guru
Ralf Herrmann

“Eventually, all new fonts will be variable and we’ll just call them fonts.”

Variable Fonts Poll  

13 members have voted

  1. 1. Will variable fonts become the new standard? What do you think?

    • Probably
      4
    • I’m undecided
      4
    • I doubt it
      5


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Ralf Herrmann

It’s an intriguing claim. What do you think? Feel free to vote and comment.

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Riccardo Sartori

I don’t see why not. Many will not take advantage of the format, just like many fonts still don’t take advantage of Unicode or OpenType, but for professional typefaces (and, thanks in part to Google, for web-fonts) it will be the standard.

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Ralf Herrmann

But do the majority of font users even want it? Opinions vary on why Multiple Master with a similar concept failed, but in my opinion a part of it was that sliders instead of dedicated styles might actually provide more choice than people actually want to deal with. When I look at my foundry sales statistics, a large percentage is people not buying families, but just a few styles they need. So unless I force them to buy a variable font with everything in it, many font users might still rather go for font styles as individual files. 

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Riccardo Sartori

Of course it will also depend on the user interface offered by the software (I know, not the best track record overall in this regard). 

I imagine that the |I| and |B| buttons in Office or in the various WYSIWYG (web) text editors will not go away anytime soon, and the sliders could be added as an optional “expert” feature. So it will be up to type designers to offer sensible instances for those (and also BI, of course). Same should go for optical sizes, for example.

Also for the “just a few styles” versus “a variable font with everything in it”, I don’t think they are mutually exclusive: both would be “variable” fonts, one with few fixed instances, and the other with the full range of possibilities.

Ideally one could pick just the features they want, along the lines of what you can now do with Input or Universal Sans.

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Albert-Jan Pool

As with OpenType it will take some years, before the majority of designers and major foundries, developers of font software and applications support the major features in such a way that the majority of users can use them without any trouble. As said before, it is only a matter of time.

Right now many of us are experiencing trouble with variable fonts with more than one axis. Also taking care that Variable Fonts have the same design quality when they are based on existing families. It can be rather time consuming to support the same weight- and width-specific design changes. But these are things that can be overcome. 

I expect that Google, Adobe and Microsoft will replace their fonts with Variable Fonts, just as they did with Type1 and first generation TrueType fonts. Users will get used to this. The others will follow 🙂 All kinds of beautiful and interesting niches will be around with us for a very long time. Probably much longer than expected.

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