AXISPRAXIS
playground blog resources support

 

Resources for Variable Fonts

This is a chronological list of 102 web resources for variable fonts. For historical context it starts in 1991 and includes material on the ancestors of variable fonts: Multiple Master fonts and Apple TrueType GX fonts.

2018 | 2017 | Variable Font Day | 2016 | 2015 | 2014 | 2013 | 2005 | 2004 | 1995 | 1994 | 1992 | 1991


2018

  List of available variable fonts

5 April 2018
Indra Kupferschmid — Google Docs
Spreadsheet that lists all the available variable fonts, whether open source, paid licenses, or installed with applications. Updated regularly.

  DrawBot: Let’s animate some variable fonts

27 March 2018
Johannes Lang — DrawBot Forum
Mattipa: Hi there! I wish there was a tutorial about how to animate a variable font and create a gif with drawbot. May I ask for this? Thanks a lot.
jo: hi there, I will try to give you a basic start with a very simple linear interpolation.

  Protipo and the Variable Font Format

19 March 2018
Irene Vlachou — Type-Together
Halfway through the [Protipo] project we realised that these criteria [flexibility, precision, and fine-tuning … a wide variety of weights and styles] match perfectly with the new idea of OpenType font variations, and it would be a real benefit for the user to be able to manually adjust the font to their exact needs. … FeatureVariations allow character switching for typographic tweaks in specific regions of the design space. We call them “jumps” … Protipo Variable uses this technique for ten characters switching in three different values (at weight 400 $¢, at 440 €¥Q and at 600 Øøð), values appropriately tuned for each character.

  Variable Fonts: An exploration of expressive, performant typography

13 March 2018
Greg Whitworth, Melanie Richards and Francois Remy — Microsoft
Join us on an expedition to learn about what variable fonts provide web developers and designers, and how to use them on your site. For the best experience, visit the Test Drive in a modern browser that supports font-variation-settings and font-optical-sizing, such as Microsoft Edge on Windows Insider Preview build 17120 or higher.

  Variable Fonts

9 March 2018
Nick Sherman — V-Fonts.com
“Launching the beta version of a simple new website today for finding and trying #variablefonts: (Requires a browser that supports variable fonts.)”

  Creating a Variable Font

8 March 2018
Rainer Erich Scheichelbauer — Glyphs
Welcome to Variable Fonts in Glyphs! This tutorial covers a workflow for app version 2.5. Keep in mind that, while Glyphs can export working Variable Fonts, the implementation is currently in beta. Throughout this tutorial, I will point out where you still have to be careful.

  Introduction to variable fonts on the web

23 February 2018
Mustafa Kurtuldu — Google Web Fundamentals
In this article, we will look at what variable fonts are, how we can use them in our work, and the potential possibilities they entail. But to understand what they offer, first, we must explore how typography and font loading currently work on the web.

  One File, Many Options: Using Variable Fonts on the Web

29 January 2018
Ollie Williams — CSS-Tricks
In 2016, an important development in web typography was jointly announced by representatives from Adobe, Microsoft, Apple, and Google. Version 1.8 of the OpenType font format introduced variable fonts. With so many big names involved, it's unsurprising that all browsers are on-board and racing ahead with implementation.

  Variable Fonts with Jason Pamental

29 January 2018
Jason Pamental with Dave Rupert and Chris Coyier — Shop Talk Show
[1:04:55] We've got Jason Pamental on the show to educate us on variable typography and how it could be the biggest thing to come to the web since responsive design.

  Why Variable Fonts Will Succeed

27 January 2018
Thomas Phinney — Phinney on Fonts
OK, this is kind of funny: a post I wrote in November 2016 that languished in my “drafts” afterwards when I was busy with work, waiting on illustrations/graphics that I never did add. Just for fun, I’m going ahead and publishing it exactly as is, showing what I was thinking at the time, just after Variable Fonts were announced. The only other note I want to add is that if you want to play with variable fonts, check out Axis-Praxis.

  How to use variable fonts in the real world

25 January 2018
Richard Rutter — Clearleft
“Using variable fonts in the real world turns out to be tricky. This post explains how we achieved it for the new Ampersand website and what we learned along the way.” — a thorough exploration of the CSS techniques needed to code a real-world website using variable fonts.

  Creative Text Effects With CSS

23 January 2018
Mandy Michael — Talk.CSS Singapore
[40:02] So let’s have some fun with text! In this talk, the speaker will show you how to make effects with accessible, searchable, and selectable text (Without the need for complicated markup or JavaScript). Sometimes it’s easy to forget the power of CSS but there is a lot you can do with a little creativity. Variable fonts are covered from 22:31.

  Variable Fonts Experiments

14 January 2018
Mandy Michael — Codepen
I've started a collection on @CodePen of all the fun I'm having with variable fonts. #variablefonts — @Mandy_Kerr on Twitter

  VF Demos

10 January 2018
Jason Pamental — Codepen
A collection of small demo samples of variable font capabilities.

  How to Use Variable Fonts on the Web

8 January 2018
Anna Monus — Envato Web Design Tutorials
Variable fonts significantly reduce the limitations of current font formats. Today’s web fonts are inflexible and don’t scale very well; they only provide us with some fixed styles with names like “Light”, “Bold”, or “Extra Bold”. There are even typefaces that only have one weight or slant variant. With variable fonts however, we have access to an infinite flexibility of weight, slant, x-height, slabs, rounding, and other typographical attributes.

2017

  Silly hover effects and the future of web typography

7 December 2017
Roel Nieskens — Pixel Ambacht
With support for variable fonts inching closer, let’s take a look at what variable fonts are and what they can do. And what better way to demo cutting edge typographic web technology than through silly hover effects? … But if you go beyond those two weights, if you allow this to unlock typographic possibilities previously limited by crude technological constraints, then variable fonts are a dream come true. Browser support is coming real soon, and it brings the future of web typography.

  Variable Fonts: The Second Coming of Gutenberg?

6 December 2017
Allan Haley — Communication Arts
Variable fonts are a hot topic. This new variety of fonts is being heralded by typophiles as virtually the second coming of movable type … enthusiasm—on the edge of ebullience—rules the day … Variable fonts will be important and will change how some of us work, but they are far from the contributions of Johannes Gutenberg, Ottmar Mergenthaler, and even [the Bentons]. The primary benefit of variable fonts is maximizing bandwidth and load time in websites … What should you do? For now, watch and wait.

  Variable fonts: a million times the possibilities, in less bandwidth than before

30 November 2017
Laurence Penney — dotCSS
[19:46] Laurence explains the manifold benefits for the web: responsive type within responsive design, reduced webfont payload, and much more. He shows how to explore the possibilities of Variable Fonts using his Axis-Praxis website and other tools, encourages dialogue with font makers to make sure they’re making the responsive fonts you need, and explains how to deploy Variable Fonts in real projects.

  Process for registering design variation axes

22 November 2017
Peter Constable — Type Drawers / GitHub
Announcment of the “OpenType Design Variation Axis Tags” GitHub repository where be proposals for new OpenType Variations registered axes should be submitted.

  Variable Fonts and the Future of Web Design

18 November 2017
Jason Pamental — NEDcamp 2017
[58:16] Variable fonts are here, and will change everything: with a single font file that can scale in size, width, weight and even x-height—exactly as the type designer envisioned. Everything from super-fine-line delicacy to the chunkiest slab headlines; wide widths in banners and slightly narrower body copy for better line lengths on mobile devices. All controllable with CSS. (This is an evolution of my talk at DrupalCon Baltimore earlier this year, with lots of new content.)

  We Are Family! I’ve Got All My Variations With Me

6 November 2017
David Jonathan Ross — Type@Cooper
[1:03:02] The new OpenType variable font format will redefine what it means to make and use a typeface family; in this new format, a single font file can contain multiple weights, widths, optical sizes, and more! I will discuss the development of type families in the 20th and 21st centuries, and share my own experience creating large series of type. I will illustrate why variable fonts have the potential to influence this creative process, and in doing so how they may affect the relationship between type maker and type user.

  One year in: an update on Variable Fonts

23 October 2017
Jason Pamental — Medium
It’s a few weeks on from ATypI Montréal, and between that event, TypeCon in Boston just before, and more recent announcements at AdobeMAX, there’s a lot to talk about with Variable Fonts.

  The Scorpion Express: thoughts on OpenType Font Variations (updated)

21 October 2017
Matthew Butterick — Butterick’s Practical Typography
An update to his article that was originally published in September 2016: “[the efforts of Adobe, Microsoft, Apple and Google], a mediocre ef­fort. So far, OT Font Vari­a­tions are not emit­ting the aroma of ag­gres­sive ac­tion, but rather the milder scent of bets be­ing hedged. The bright­est sign is the web-browser sup­port. …  But the dark­est sign is the lack of use­ful fonts built with OT Font Vari­a­tions tech­nol­ogy.”

  New variable fonts from Adobe Originals

19 October 2017
Dan Rhatigan — Adobe Typekit Blog
Photoshop and Illustrator announced plenty of new features at Adobe MAX this week, include some exciting typographic features we’ve been anticipating: support for OpenType variable fonts. … We chose six families to best show what the new format will allow … Myriad Variable Concept, Acumin Variable Concept, allows you to adjust weight, width, and even the slant angle, combining all of Acumin’s 90 variants in a single dynamic font file … Minion Variable Concept … Source Sans Variable, Source Serif Variable, and Source Code Variable …

  An Overview of Variable Fonts in OpenType 1.8

17 October 2017
Peter Constable — Internationalization and Unicode Conferences
The recent introduction of OpenType 1.8 makes it possible to create a single font that can show very different appearances based on user choices. One font has multiple “axes” allowing a fluid, continuous mutation of glyph shapes. This makes it possible for one font to have multiple weights and stresses, in a compact representation that can save considerable space compared to separate fonts. But OpenType 1.8 allows more than just this mutation, which has been around for 30 years already in the form of Apple’s AAT Variations or Adobe’s Multiple Masters. Using OpenType 1.8, it is possible, for instance, to make a font with a “Time” axis, where you can show how the shapes of glyphs have changed over time. Choosing alternates via GSUB substitutions can be given a user interface via this mechanism. This talk will go over OpenType 1.8 and all its capabilities, with live demos showing off some fonts of interest.

  Variable Fonts and the Future of Web Design

25 September 2017
Jason Pamental — FITC Web Unleashed 2017
[32:35] Variable fonts are here, and will change everything: with a single font file that can scale in size, width, weight and even x-height—exactly as the type designer envisioned. Everything from super-fine-line delicacy to the chunkiest slab headlines; wide widths in banners and slightly narrower body copy for better line lengths on mobile devices. All controllable with CSS. … Jason will look at the technology behind variable fonts, how to use them on the web, their timeline for release, and most importantly: their impact on the dynamic range of our designs.

  How New Font Technologies Will Improve The Web

18 September 2017
François Poizat — Smashing Magazine
There’s no question, the future of web typography looks promising … Unfortunately, variable fonts don’t solve every problem with responsive web typography. For example, how do we reduce the number of media queries? How do we handle outliers? How do we make the typeface a part of the web page? Parametric fonts are intended to fix these issues … Prototypo … The question now is, What would you do if you could morph typefaces to your every whim?

  Considering the old, designing the new

16 September 2017
Sahar Afshar — ATypI Montréal
[17:29] “This talk will look at methods of designing Arabic typefaces with a new voice … The presentation will conclude with a hypothesis of technological advancements that can eliminate the limitations and current constraints in Arabic typesetting and design.” — demonstration of an experimental variable font that has an axis to adjust the width of the kashida.

  User Interfaces in Type Design, opportunities in Variable Fonts

14 September 2017
Santiago Orozco — ATypI Montréal
[25:17] Type design has always had a relationship with technology, and now with variable fonts there are lots of opportunities in that relationship to make type design more exciting than ever. Variable fonts are not only about designing letterforms and making them look good, but about creating systems that offer, to all kinds of users, their own level of interactivity defined by the type designer, manipulated by designers, and consumed by the users. But what will these systems look like, for each of these groups of people? This presentation will look at what is possible with all interfaces for designing, manipulating, and consuming variable fonts.

  Axes, tuples and deltas—oh my!

14 September 2017
Peter Constable — ATypI Montréal
[23:41] Since the OpenType variable font format was announced at ATypI 2016, there has been growing interest and excitement in this format. This talk will aim to clarify the inner workings of variable fonts, as well as reviewing progress since last year’s ATypI announcement.

  Progress report from the Adobe Typography Customer Advisory Board

14 September 2017
Yves Peters, Vinod Balakrishnan — ATypI Montréal
[18:40] Yves updates us on the activity of the Adobe Typography Customer Advisory Board … leading the effort to improve the typographic interface across all Adobe apps. Vinod gives us a surprise preview of variable font support in Photoshop.

  The Next Big Thing — in Fonts

31 August 2017
Roger Black — Type Magazine
We’ve been hearing about OpenType Variations. Where did they come from, and where are they going?

  User Interfaces for Variable Fonts

25 August 2017
Andrew Johnson — A List Apart
Variable fonts give us a new, wide open typographic space with which to work. Instead of prescribing value to individual UI elements in a vacuum, we should take a hybrid and calculated approach to variable font interfaces. How do we structure our design tools to adapt to the new advantages variable fonts provide us with? … Interfaces for variable fonts should adapt along with the fonts themselves. There’s no single static UI pattern that will work as the best solution for all variable fonts.

  OpenType Font Variations

2 August 2017
David Berlow — Type Network
We’re excited to present the second installment of our publications related to variable fonts. The first installment, which told the stories of Amstelvar and Decovar, showed us beginning to work with variable fonts—imagining, designing, and producing them. Since then, code and browsers have evolved to support the new format, allowing us to start using variable fonts. Naturally, thinking and writing about variations in the context of history and the future can’t be far behind.

  What do Variable Fonts mean for Web Developers?

18 July 2017
Ricardo Magalhães — Medium: Prototypr
Despite Variable Fonts not being quite ready for production use yet, there’s no reason not to keep up with its developments during these early stages. The most optimistic prediction stipulates that they’ll gain massive browser support in mid-2018, so there’s a pretty good chance they’ll explode in usage right from day one, just like CSS Grid did a few months ago. Their possibilities are endless … it’s our responsibility, as designers and developers, to fully understand the extent at which they can (and should) be controlled.

  Variable Fonts: Full Circle 1991–2017

9 June 2017
Thomas Phinney — Kerning 2017
[34:39] In the early 1990s, Adobe and Apple independently developed Multiple Master fonts and GX Variations, competing axis-based font technologies. By 2000, Adobe had abandoned MM, and GX Variations had minimal support in the marketplace. Yet in 2016, an unprecedented alliance of Adobe, Apple, Microsoft and Google announced Variable Fonts (OpenType Variations), a successor to these arguably failed technologies. What makes axis-based fonts so exciting? How do they free type and graphic designers to do new things? Why did they fail before, and why might Variable Fonts succeed when its predecessors failed? FontLab’s Thomas Phinney shows the potential of Variable Fonts from useful workhorses to the silly and bizarre.

  What The Government Doesn’t Want You to Know About Variable Fonts

9 June 2017
Bianca Berning — ISType
[25:22] Let’s look beyond the obvious benefit of variable fonts, the greatly-reduced file size, and explore their potential impact on typography. How can OpenType Font Variations assist the reader? How can they improve responsive typography?

  Typographic Potential of Variable Fonts

9 June 2017
Bianca Berning — Alphabettes.org
As soon as variable fonts are more widely implemented we will see that they can have an impact on our reading experiences that goes beyond faster web loading. I hope this article managed to give an overview of a small selection of opportunities we have at hand to change the way we read on screen. And I’m hopeful that we are one step closer to typography that is not only responsive to how and where the text is read but also to who is reading it.

  Dan Rhatigan on Variable Fonts and the Future of Typography

8 June 2017
Khoi Vinh, Dan Rhatigan — Print Magazine
It’s really the demands of the faster, more powerful digital world around us that’s requiring our fonts to become smaller and that’s requiring a more sophisticated means of delivering typeface designs to people … the likelihood of a variety of new approaches to application UI both excites me and scares me a little … the business outcomes are still anyone’s guess. Every type designer I’ve talked to about this has had a different theory, but since we’re a ways off from widespread support, it will be a while before foundries test the waters and some patterns emerge.

  OpenType variable fonts: How to use fewer fonts and get a lot more typographic richness

11 May 2017
Peter Constable, Shrinath Shanbhag — Microsoft
[31:59] The OpenType font format has been extended with an exciting new technology, OpenType Font Variations. An OpenType variable font is a single font that can behave like many separate fonts by supporting continuous variation between different designs defined in the font. This is the biggest development in OpenType since the introduction of OpenType itself! In this video, we give an overview of OpenType variable fonts, show how some of the capabilities of variable fonts may already be accessible in your existing apps, and describe new DirectWrite APIs that will enable you to take advantage of the full capabilities of this new OpenType format.

  TYPO Labs: variable fonts and beyond

11 May 2017
Yves Peters — Type Network
Yes, TYPO Labs 2017 tackled more than just variable fonts—but the new technology maintained a constant presence in the background.

  Our New Typography: Variable Fonts & The Future of Web Design

25 April 2017
Jason Pamental — DrupalCon Baltimore 2017
[50:54] Make no mistake: variable fonts will have a more significant impact on web design than anything since responsive design itself. Learn how you can use them today and be ahead of the web tomorrow.

  TYPO Labs comes into its own

18 April 2017
Yves Peters — Type Network
The sophomore edition of TYPO Labs was even bigger and better than the first—and jam-packed with enough stimulating content to make your head spin … The variable font format may not yet be ready for commercial applications, but the presentations confirmed that the type community is diving headfirst into the OpenType 1.8 specification, fearlessly experimenting with variable fonts for the ultimate benefit of end users.

  Variable Fonts waren das Thema der TYPO Labs 2017

10 April 2017
Antje Dohmann — PAGE
Kaum ein Vortrag, der nicht die zwei Wörter Variable Fonts im Titel trug. Und dass, obwohl es kaum wirklich Neues gibt. Jedenfalls nicht öffentlich, intern arbeitet die Schriftindustrie mit Hochdruck an der Weiterentwicklung der Techniken und der Lösung von Problemen.

  Interpolating the Future

8 April 2017
John Hudson — TYPO Labs
[51:15] Now that variable fonts have (re)introduced interpolable variation into the OpenType format, how else might the technology be used to improve specific aspects of micro-typographic layout? John Hudson presents a series of examples of possible nested glyph variation within font-level variation, some of which are already under consideration as extensions to the existing variable font technology. These examples include improvements to efficiency of CJK glyph storage, complex script shaping, justification, and mathematical typesetting. There are significant challenges to implementing these extensions, but the potential benefits are compelling.

  Business opportunities and challenges in bringing variable OpenType fonts to the market

8 April 2017
Adam Twardoch, Matthew Rechs, David Berlow, Ivo Gabrowitsch, Alexandra Korolkova — TYPO Labs
[50:06] Panel discussion

  Variable Fonts Update / Brainstorming Variable Fonts

8 April 2017
Peter Constable, Rob McKaughan — TYPO Labs
Peter Constable will update everyone on the current plans and ideas for variable fonts in the OpenType specification (version 1.8.1 and beyond). He will also describe the latest features in Microsoft products, including demos. Rob McKaughan will brainstorm uses for variable fonts beyond responsive typography.

  Typographic Wonderland

8 April 2017
Marianna Paszkowska — TYPO Labs
[23:34] Marianna Paszkowska delivered an overview of interactive designs from a not type related field. The audience got the “warning” to now get confronted with images that had nothing to do with type. She explained the importance of thinking outside the box, and inspired to learn about intelligent textiles, or dynamic bags, that are reacting to their environment. Following the idea of the products reaction on for example the weather, she concluded the excursion with the great interactive type design Project Twin by Letteror. (Includes a nice demo of a FF Clifford variable prototype.)

  Axis-Praxis: lessons from 6 months running a website celebrating variable fonts

8 April 2017
Laurence Penney — TYPO Labs
[55:58] In the weeks after the OpenType 1.8 announcement about variable fonts at ATypI 2016, despite explanatory texts and videos there was no environment for enthusiasts and font-makers to experience variable fonts in practice. The following month, Laurence’s Axis-Praxis website fulfilled the need for such a place, somewhere to experiment with your own fonts and to play with fonts that others had released. The site has developed into a resource for fonts, user interfaces, ideas about the future of variable fonts, and reminders of similar activity in font technology a generation ago. Laurence will talk about what he’s learned so far, and will present Axis-Praxis Version 2.

  Creating Variable Fonts from Legacy Families

7 April 2017
Tom Rickner, Bob Taylor — TYPO Labs
[52.49] The dream was to create a tool where you could insert nearly any font family and have a variable font pop out the other end, with virtually no work involved. The reality is not so simple. This talk describes a number of considerations involved in assessing font families for suitability, preparing them for conversion, making the outlines point compatible, and then actually producing high-quality variable fonts that meet the OpenType 1.8.1 standard.

  Make your fonts variable: upgrading existing font projects to OpenType Variations

6 April 2017
Adam Twardoch — TYPO Labs
[48:05] Thousands of font sources exist today which were designed in FontLab Studio, Glyphs or RoboFont with Superpolator, which makes it relatively easy for font foundries to re-release them as variable OpenType fonts. The OpenType Variations model is conceptually and technically quite similar to TrueType GX, MutatorMath and MultipleMaster, but there are some important differences in detail. In this talk, Adam will talk about those differences and will give tips on how to technically approach the conversion of font sources into variable TTFs and OTFs. He’ll discuss differences in the design space setup, caveats about glyph compatibility and feature variation, challenges regarding predefined instances and backwards-compatibility with existing static font families.

  Variable Fonts: Progress Report

6 April 2017
Dan Rhatigan — TYPO Labs
[40:56] Since last September’s announcement of the new OpenType 1.8 spec, variable fonts have been moving from concepts and demos into practical solutions. This overview will summarize the progress made so far on new fonts, the environments that can support them, and what some designers have already learned to do with them.

  Variable Fonts with Dan Rhatigan

1 April 2017
Callie Budrick, Dan Rhatigan — Print magazine
If you’re working in the typography world, you may have heard the whisperings of collaboration between some of the biggest names in technology. Adobe, Apple, Google and Microsoft have been working together (with the help of independent type foundries and designers) to create something that’s going to change the way we see type—literally. They’re called variable fonts, and Dan Rhatigan took the time to tell us everything we needed to know about them.

  The bad people episode

30 March 2017
Paul Boag, Rich Rutter — Boagworld
[1:05:42] This week on the Boagworld Show we talk variable fonts, dealing with bad people and whether we need to reconsider CAPTCHA.

  Welcome To Variable Fonts!

28 March 2017
Ilya Ruderman — TypeToday
Variable fonts are a new font format that will fundamentally change future typography. They are already available to use, but are still not widely known.

  Hinting Font Variation fonts in VTT 6.2

27 March 2017
Mike Duggan — Microsoft
The latest version of VTT, (6.20) allows for the easy addition of hinting to Variable Fonts … One set of hints covers all masters in the font.

  What is OpenType now?

23 February 2017
David Sudweeks — FontShop
When reports of new experimentation with the old TrueType GX standard came last year, I was hopeful this might at some point emerge as a new font format, (and I wasn’t alone). What I didn’t suspect was that this variable font technology would become part of OpenType itself. So here’s a quick look at what OpenType is capable of since version 1.8 was announced last fall.

  Get started with variable fonts

21 February 2017
Richard Rutter — Medium
Variable fonts are a new font format offering unprecedented flexibility. And they are with us now. [This is an updated extract from Richard Rutter’s forthcoming book, Web Typography.]

  Something Marvelous Is Coming: Variable Fonts

16 February 2017
Patrick Fultz — Target Marketing
Like an Avengers team of typography heroes, Adobe, Apple, Microsoft and Google have joined forces to support a new standard called OpenType 1.8. So what’s the big deal? … Now we can condense or extend glyphs (specific shapes of letters), customizing them for a specific look. We can sharpen or round a typeface, shorten the descenders, or raise a font’s x-height in our never-ending pursuit of truth, justice and the perfect layout … The biggest companies behind operating systems, design and the Web have all collaborated on the new format. Notable independent contributors are already refining their type standards. It’s a brave new world ahead.

  Variable Fonts are Coming — Here’s Why You’ll Love Them

9 February 2017
Creative Cloud Team — Adobe Creative Cloud
Getting type both to look good and load quickly is a common challenge for designers and developers … With OpenType Variable Fonts, type designers will be able to design and sell a font that flexes for designers and readers in the same ways that the type designers intended. With variations possible across 64,000 axes, the options are endless … less likely to commit type cripes like stretching, faux bolding, slanting … One file can do the work of what you previously needed many files to do.

  Monotype on The History and Future of Variable Fonts

8 February 2017
Jason Tselentis, Tom Rickner — How Magazine
With OpenType 1.8—soon to be updated to 1.8.1—a whole new world of typography will be available to designers and users. The new wave of variable fonts promises a whole new typographic world of opportunities, and Monotype’s Tom Rickner is excited about the possibilities.

  Variable Fonts

30 January 2017
Ethan Marcotte, Tim Brown, Bram Stein — RWD
[28:11] Variable fonts are coming. How will it change the web design and development process? Tim Brown and Bram Stein explain how variable fonts will work and what you can do with them now: “You can think about it as responsive design brought down to the level of the font file itself.”

2016

  OpenType Variable Fonts: Moving Right Along

16 December 2016
David Berlow — Font Bureau
Following the mid-September announcement of OpenType v1.8, Font Bureau takes on extreme font development challenge for Google.

  From TrueType GX to Variable Fonts, Part 2

8 December 2016
Tom Rickner — Monotype
What exactly needs to happen? Operating systems need to add support for a number of newly defined data structures. Application developers need to enable support for selecting variable font styles. CSS standards need to expand to enable the specifying of variable font styles. Font tool developers need to update their tools to output variable fonts. Type designers and font producers have to actually make the fonts. Font markets need to make variable fonts available.

  From TrueType GX to Variable Fonts, Part 1

29 November 2016
Tom Rickner — Monotype
Tom Rickner, veteran type designer, shares his personal role in the beginnings of type’s most exciting development in decades. … This new approach to storing outlines that represent a design space was incredibly powerful, and broke down some significant barriers and limitations in Adobe’s approach. … While the announcement represents what I truly believe has been an unprecedented degree of collaboration across the industry, there is still much work to be done. … We will be sharing more of our thoughts and research on this in the coming days, weeks and months.

  Variable Fonts are here What now?

26 November 2016
Nick Sherman — Typographische Gesellschaft München
[40:45]

  Typeshift: “We added support for Variable Fonts!”

21 November 2016
Andrew Johnson — Typeshift
Andrew Johnson announces that the Typeshift app now supports variable fonts. Typeshift is a Mac app for web typesetting, where you can find fonts from various services and develop web layouts.

  Variable Fonts on the Web

2 November 2016
Myles Maxfield — WebKit Blog
The W3C is currently drafting a way to describe variation axis values in CSS … CSS properties …font-weight, font-stretch, font-style, and font-size … optical-sizing … font-variation-settings … TrueType has had variation support for many years. In fact, all of the operating systems Apple ships currently include system APIs for TrueType font variations. Because of this, I have started implementing font variation support in WebKit in relation to the existing TrueType font support in the platform. Currently, I’ve only implemented the lowest-level font-variation-settings property, but I’m very excited to implement the complete support as soon as I’m able. Please try the existing support out in a Safari Technology Preview only on macOS Sierra and let me know how it works for you!

  Caractères versatiles

31 October 2016
Baptiste Guesnon — baptisteguesnon.eu
A wide-ranging discussion of the benefits of dynamic typography: “Aujourd’hui, le texte est mobile, changeant... les contenus et les formes sont en perpétuelle métamorphose. Pourtant la typographie que nous utilisons, bien que numérique, est pensée comme un matériau statique … La typographie dynamique changera la vision que nous avons d’une fonte et de la composition du texte. … l’émergence d’un nouveau sou e dans le champ graphique et typographique.”

  Axis-Praxis: an introduction

28 October 2016
Laurence Penney — Axis-Praxis
[5:04] Axis-Praxis is a tool for playing with Variable Fonts in the browser. It’s a simple typesetting environment where you can choose fonts, adjust sliders, and press buttons for Named Instances to obtain precise settings on the variations axes built into the fonts. You can also click the axis buttons for an animation along the entire axis. When you begin you will find, pre-installed in the font menu, the four variable fonts built into macOS Sierra. At any point you can play with your own fonts by just dragging & dropping the TTF file onto the page.

  Axis-Praxis is launched!

28 October 2016
Laurence Penney — Axis-Praxis
Axis-Praxis is a web tool for playing with Variable Fonts. It’s a simple typesetting environment where you can choose fonts, adjust sliders, and press buttons for Named Instances to obtain precise settings on the variations axes built into the fonts. You can also click the axis buttons for an animation along the entire axis. When you begin you will find, pre-installed in the font menu, the four variable fonts built into macOS Sierra. At any point you can play with your own fonts by just dragging & dropping the TTF file onto the page

  I Can Variable Font

14 October 2016
Travis Kochel — GitHub
Guide to making variable fonts with the open source fontTools toolchain. Works on a collection of master fonts in UFO format, in conjunction with a .designspace file that defines how the fonts relate to each other in a multidimensional design space. Updated several times since original publication.

  Variable Fonts in CSS are Crazy Awesome

12 October 2016
Jeff Veen, Tim Brown — Presentable
[46:22] This week’s special guest is my friend Tim Brown, Head of Typography at Adobe. We discuss the recent announcement of Variable Fonts and what that means for type on the web, the complexity of CSS, and the future of responsive web design.

  Variation Fonts Demo

30 September 2016
Myles Maxfield — Litherum
“Try opening this in a recent Safari nightly build.” With these words Safari developer Myles Maxfield introduces the first public demo showing variable fonts working in a web browser. And not just working, but fonts that get new variation settings applied dozens of times per second, thanks to CSS animation. The browser needed is the latest version of WebKit Nightly, a cutting-edge version of Safari for Mac.

  A Great Flowering

24 September 2016
Robin Rendle — Adventures in Typography
It began with a post by John Hudson, then Tim Brown wrote about the news over on the Typekit blog, and then Roel Nieskens described the benefits on Typographica. And then, heck, even Wired wrote about the news. But why is this such a big deal?

  Variable Fonts in CSS Draft

22 September 2016
Myles Maxfield — Litherum
Recently, the CSS Working Group in the W3C resolved to pursue adding support for variable fonts within CSS. A draft has been added to the CSS Fonts Level 4 spec. Your questions and comments are extremely appreciated, and will help shape the future of variation fonts support in CSS! … Here is what CSS would look like using the current draft…

  Variable Fonts: the Future of (Web) Type

22 September 2016
Roel Nieskens — Typographica
The introduction of variable fonts is a milestone in digital type history, which was rooted in metal type for a frustratingly long time — at least in the eyes of a computer-nerd type lover like myself. Type has finally adapted to the flexible nature of our screens and the technology that fills them with content.

  Tech Giants Team Up To Fix Typography’s Biggest Problem

22 September 2016
Megan Molteni — Wired Magazine
Engineers at Apple, Google, Microsoft, and Adobe have spent years developing that infrastructure, and the companies expect quick adoption. Google's open source font production pipeline supports variable fonts, and Google hopes to bring it to Chrome and other products ASAP. Adobe expects to release an updated tool for building variable fonts by the end of the month. And Microsoft says it will support variable fonts on all of its products by next year. And designers like Phinney are assembling variable fonts right now, eager for the day when everything, everywhere, is responsive.

  The Scorpion Express: thoughts on OpenType Font Variations

20 September 2016
Matthew Butterick — Butterick’s Practical Typography
With­out di­min­ish­ing the ef­fort that’s been put into this new stan­dard, I’m not con­vinced there’s a plau­si­ble ra­tio­nale for it. It would im­pose sig­nif­i­cant costs on type de­sign­ers, pro­vide no ob­vi­ous ad­van­tage to our cus­tomers, and mostly ben­e­fit a small set of wealthy cor­po­rate sponsors. John Hudson responded to the article on Type Drawers. Matthew Butterick updated his own article in October 2017.

  OpenType Font Variations open up a world of possibilities

19 September 2016
David Berlow — Type Network
I‘m really very happy to see the public display of support for font variations by so many major developers, and such a great public display of interest from so many font developers. Partial full disclosure—the morning after the announcement had been made last week at ATypI 2016 in Warsaw, I woke up with Handel‘s “Variations Chorus” playing in my head, knowing that these announcements had been made while I slept.

  Variable fonts, a new kind of font for flexible design

14 September 2016
Tim Brown — Adobe Typekit Blog
Imagine condensing or extending glyph widths ever so slightly, to accommodate narrow and wide viewports. Imagine raising your favorite font’s x-height just a touch at small sizes. Imagine sharpening or rounding your brand typeface in ways its type designer intended, for the purposes of art direction. Imagine shortening descenders imperceptibly so that headings can be set nice and tight without letters crashing into one another. Imagine this all happening live on the web, as a natural part of responsive design.

  ATypI Special OpenType Session

14 September 2016
David Lemon, Peter Constable, Behdad Esfahbod, Ned Holbrook, Simon Daniels — ATypI
[1:18:58] The announcement of the OpenType 1.8 specification at ATypI 2016 Warsaw, focussing on font variations. Representatives from Adobe, Microsoft, Apple and Google each spoke.

  Introducing OpenType Variable Fonts

14 September 2016
John Hudson — Medium
Version 1.8 of the OpenType font format specification introduces an extensive new technology, affecting almost every area of the format. An OpenType variable font is one in which the equivalent of multiple individual fonts can be compactly packaged within a single font file. This is done by defining variations within the font, which constitute a single- or multi-axis design space within which many font instances can be interpolated. A variable font is a single font file that behaves like multiple fonts.

  OpenType 1.8 specification

14 September 2016
multiple authors — Microsoft
Version 1.8 of the OpenType specification introduces font variations. In the OpenType font file, the fvar table defines axes and named instances. Glyph morphing is defined in the gvar table (in TrueType fonts, with files usually with the extension .ttf), and in the CFF2 table (in fonts with PostScript outlines, files usually with the extension .otf). Various other tables define changes in spacing, kerning, and substitutions that happen in certain regions of the design space.

  OpenType GX: Bringing font variations to OpenType

10 May 2016
Behdad Esfahbod — TYPO Labs
[29:57] Since ATypI 2014, I and a few other people have independently proposed that OpenType should be extended to support runtime font variations à la TrueType GX and Adobe Multiple Master. In this session I will present what has been done in the last year and a half to move towards that vision.

  TrueType Variations: Past, Present & Future

10 May 2016
Tom Rickner — TYPO Labs
[44:45] TrueType Variations was developed at Apple Computer in the early 1990’s, during the height of the “Font Wars”, as a response to Adobe’s Multiple Master font format. This incredibly powerful format briefly flourished as a design tool, before dying in the marketplace for a host of reasons. Renewed interest by designers and software developers alike has resulted in a rebirth of sorts. This talk will discuss lessons learned, current capabilities and limitations of Variations, and will conclude with a vision for what the future of this exciting technology could bring.

2015

  Responsive Lettering

10 November 2015
Erik van Blokland — Letterror
Responsive Lettering is a system for scalable, interpolating vector shapes that can make themselves fit in a range of rectangles. It is intended for publication on the web using SVG for the vector outlines and the snap.js JavaScript library to manipulate them. Source shapes should be in UFO format, so Robofont is typically used to draw them. All code is on GitHub.

  Why OpenType Succeeded Where GX & Multiple Master Didn’t

13 June 2015
Thomas Phinney — ISType
[42:57] There were several attempts to come up with a next-generation digital font format in the 1990s. Why did OpenType (mostly) succeed where GX/AAT and multiple masters did not? Thomas explores the factors that caused GX and MM to fail in the marketplace, and explains why OpenType didn’t suffer the same fate thanks to a combination of accidents of birth, and lessons painfully learned from the previous format battles. Corporate alliances, attention to support and workflows, openness, and tireless evangelism all played their parts.

  TrueType GX Variations — Skia by Matthew Carter

19 February 2015
Adam Twardoch — FontLab
[1:55] Adam Twardoch reminds us how Skia, the TrueType GX Variations font that ships on all Macs since 1994, behaved in OS X TextEdit until Apple disabled the Variations dropdown in the Typography panel. Also watch Erik van Blokland’s TrueType GX font, Jam

  Variable Fonts for Responsive Design

15 February 2015
Nick Sherman — Robothon
[41:58] Nick Sherman expands on the many advantages of variable fonts on the web that he described in his A List Apart article.

  Variable Fonts for Responsive Design

23 January 2015
Nick Sherman — A List Apart
The much-cited article that captured the need for a new variable font format for the web: “The lobotomization of dynamic type systems is especially disappointing in the context of CSS—a system that has variable stylization in its DNA. … A variable font would mean less bandwidth, fewer round-trips to the server, faster load times, and decidedly more typographic flexibility. It’s a win across the board.”

  Live Font Interpolation on the Web

20 January 2015
Andrew Johnson — A List Apart
We all want to design great typographic experiences. We also want to serve users on an increasing range of devices and contexts. But today’s webfonts tie our responsive sites and applications to inflexible type that doesn’t scale. As a result, our users get poor reading experiences and longer loading times from additional font weights … With live font interpolation, we can bring the same level of finesse to our sites and applications that type designers do … get involved in the discussion, contribute to projects like opentype.js, and let type designers know there’s a demand for interpolatable fonts.

2014

  MutatorMath

19 September 2014
Erik van Blokland — Letterror
The story of MutatorMath, the interpolation engine inside Superpolator — with due credit to Peter Karow, the Noordzij cube and TrueType GX variations.

  The Adobe Originals Silver Anniversary Story: How the Originals endured in an ever-changing industry

30 July 2014
Tamye Riggs — Adobe Typekit Blog
The story of Adobe Multiple Master fonts: what they did well, why they failed. Tamye writes “In 1991, the multiple master format was introduced as an extension to PostScript Type 1. Multiple master fonts, or MM fonts, were built with two or more design masters — outline typeface styles — with font “instances” generated through interpolation along one or more design axes (such as weight, width, and optical size). MM fonts allowed end users greater flexibility and more precise control of their typography than was possible with standard PostScript fonts.”

2013

  Idea: MM webfonts resurrection?

20 June 2013
Adam Twardoch — W3C public-webfonts-wg list
A proposal for a variable font model for the web: “in the web context, I think at least one of [multiple master and TrueType GX] deserves resurrection — because it offers tremendous compression potentials, lends itself well into the “responsive web” paradigm, offers new possibilities for text layout on the web and, above all, can be implemented much more easily on the web than it ever could be on desktop platforms”.

2005

  TypoTechnica 2005 Report: Superpolator

3 March 2005
Ben Kiel — Typographica
Erik van Blokland demonstrated the Superpolator (Super-imposed Interpolation). Simply put, it is an application that allows for a more flexible way of dealing with multiple masters, though it isn’t as interface friendly as FontLab’s way. The power of the Superpolator is that it allows an infinite number of axes and an infinite number of masters. You can have odd numbers of masters (intermediate masters) and even glyph specific masters. You can interpolate multiple times, maintaining as much precision as possible by not rounding point coordinates until the end. … Right now, the Superpolator is a code-base resting on top of RoboFab and requires a bit of programming — about as much as it takes to use RoboFab — to use it.

2004

  Apple’s ‘gvar’ table and friends

23 March 2004
George Williams — freetype-devel list
After a good deal of effort (mostly trying to find someone at Apple who knew anything about it), I believe I finally understand the workings of Apple’s ‘gvar’ table and friends ([acfg]var). Is there any interest in adding support for Apple’s distortable fonts to FreeType? I can provide code to interpret Apple’s tables, but I’d rather have someone who understands the TrueType rasterizer (better than I) undertake the changes to that. Is anyone interested in volunteering?

1995

  Adobe Tech Spec #5091: Designing Multiple Master Typefaces

7 September 1995
Adobe staff — Adobe Systems Inc.
Type 1 multiple master typefaces represent a revolutionary breakthrough in font technology that gives graphic designers and desktop publishers the ability to customize fonts for specific needs. The typographic flexibility that multiple master typefaces provide to users is a significant advantage over previous technologies. To offer users more choices incorporating this flexibility, a variety of multiple master typefaces are currently under development. To encourage further creative application of multiple master technology, Adobe Systems has compiled these basic design guidelines and conventions for creating new typefaces or for “retrofitting” existing families in multiple master format.

1994

  Inside QuickDraw GX Fonts

1 October 1994
Erfert Fenton — MacWorld
QuickDraw GX, Apple's long-awaited graphical extension to the Macintosh Operating System, supports an enhanced font architecture that infuses typefaces with a host of new capabilities … quicken the pulse of any digital-type aficionado. … QuickDraw GX fonts can support style variations similar to those of Adobe's Multiple Master fonts. For example, a GX font might allow the user to adjust style axes for width, weight, or optical scaling. Skia, one of the GX fonts included with System 7.5, allows the user to adjust character width and weight.

  Adobe Tech Spec #5015: Type 1 Font Format Supplement

15 May 1994
Adobe staff — Adobe Systems Inc.
This supplement describes … the multiple master font format, which was previously described in Technical Note #5086, “Multiple Master Extensions to the Adobe Type 1 Font Format.” … A multiple master font contains from 2 to 16 master designs in a single font, from which users may interpolate a large number of intermediate font instances. This format, discussed in section 3, provides the potential for unprecedented flexibility and control over typographic parameters.

1992

  Adobe Tech Spec #5086: Adobe Type 1 Font Format, Multiple Master Extensions

14 February 1992
Adobe staff — Adobe Systems Inc.
This technical note presents the format for multiple master Type 1 font programs. The multiple master font format is an extension of the Type 1 font format, which allows the generation of a wide variety of typeface styles from a single font program. This capability allows users and applications unprecedented control over the typographic parameters of fonts used in their documents. A multiple master font program contains two or more outline typefaces called master designs, which describe one or more design axes. The master designs that constitute a design axis represent a dynamic range of one typo- graphic parameter, such as the weight or width. This range of styles is defined in a multiple master font program by specifying one master design to repre- sent each end of an axis, such as a light and extra-bold weight, as well as any intermediate master designs that are required. The maximum number of master designs allowed is sixteen.

1991

  Adobe Moves to Give Users More Typeface Control

11 March 1991
Kristi Coale, Barbara Darrow — InfoWorld
Adobe Systems Inc. has announced a technology that will give designers and end-users more control over typeface appearance. Spanning the Macintosh, Windows, and Unix platforms, Multiple Master technology lets designers and end-users generate several custom variations of a single typeface. Each variation remains faithful to the underlying character shapes, though changing in width, weight, size, and style. The result, according to Adobe, is “aesthetically correct” and does not distort the characters. Due out by year’s end. [Page 1] [Page 2]