An attack to body a chantry database with opentype.js
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Even years afterwards Avatar’s release, there’s one affair Ryan Gosling aloof can’t get over: the best of the movie’s logo chantry “Papyrus”. In the apology produced by Saturday Night Live, the artist of the logo opens the chantry menu, browses the fonts one by one, and about decides to go with “Papyrus”.
The acutely asinine best of a chantry is a accepted botheration with chantry menus: there are either too few or too abounding options.
On one hand, a limitation to arrangement fonts, as apparent in the video, can advance to a bad best because there artlessly isn’t article bigger installed.
On the added hand, web chantry libraries with hundreds or bags of fonts can be absolutely cutting and advance to a absurdity of choice.
The boilerplate chantry card presents a annual of attainable fonts, sorted by name, but absolutely altered otherwise: A book advised for adventurous annual is followed by one advised for baby user interfaces and again a adorned calligraphy book fabricated for bells invitations shows up. Now you either get trapped in a time arresting action of scrolling through the accomplished annual from alpha to end or you artlessly adjudge to aces the aboriginal best bout from the aerial allotment of the annual and alarm it a day.
This is acutely not an interface fabricated for analytical assay — but complete surprises. While I like to be surprised, I additionally like to admission my odds.
There are assorted means to complete the options. Before I dive into parsing chantry files, glyphs and metadata tables, let’s aboriginal accept a attending at classification, curated lists and again anatomy.
Early in architecture academy I’ve abstruse about the history of autograph and accomplished calligraphy to accept how autograph acquired and how accoutrement had an absolute appulse on the architecture of blazon faces.
This advance to adult systems for classifying fonts based on their actualization throughout history. The simplest classifications are serif, sans-serif, monospaced, calligraphy and affectation typefaces. We can usually acquisition those classes in anatomy of filters on any chantry website:
Those simple filters ability still accord us too abounding options. That’s back added specific agreement such as capricious serif, humanist serif or blackletter can be alien to differentiate typefaces of the chic serif.
Sometimes those subcategories are attainable as tags. But sometimes they aloof don’t abide in such detail. Maybe there are too abounding categories? Maybe users don’t accept all those options? Maybe there is aloof no complete and constant abstracts available?
Another way to put adjustment into the anarchy is to await on the ability of others: Human-curated chantry lists. We can acquisition those for archetype on Fontshop. There you can acquisition collections based about a decade in history such as “1930”, based on affinity such as “Helvetica Alternatives” or appliance specific lists like “Branding” or “Newspapers”.
Similar lists can be begin on Typekit, TypeWolf or FontsInUse. I anticipate those lists are abundant and I animate anybody to alpha authoritative their own lists with fonts you accept already formed with or apparent in application. It will pay off in the approaching to accept those references.
The best circuitous way to attending at typefaces is to focus on their architecture capacity and to try to accept what makes a book acceptable or special. Fortunately, there are books on blazon design, typefaces and typography. They can advise us how to accomplish typefaces, how to accept them and how to use them.
One of those books is “The Assay of Type” by Stephen Coles. A few years afterwards architecture school, this book was a refresher that reveals capacity about 100 able-bodied accustomed typefaces. Stephen Coles uses agreement such as x-height, width, weight, brawl terminals, serif appearance and others to call the affection of typefaces.
After attractive at those 100 typefaces I thought: what about the rest? What about the fonts on my computer? And the ones on the web? What are their xheight, width, weight and contrast? How can I acquisition out?
Before I started coding, I was acquisitive that I could acquisition out about the backdrop of a chantry in an attainable way. In theory, every chantry book comes with a array of metadata tables that accommodate admonition about name, author, accent and beheld characteristics of the typeface. Width, weight and chantry ancestors chic are the attainable ones. But additionally admonition about xheight, cap height, boilerplate burn width, ascenders and descenders could be found. Another set of metadata alleged Panose describes alike added backdrop such as serif style, proportion, adverse and abounding more. Application chantry architecture apps such as Glyphs, anyone can audit fonts to appearance this information:
But the availability of this admonition depends on the assignment that has been put into authoritative the font. While some fonts accommodate a lot of information, this isn’t consistently the case, abnormally not for chargeless or attainable antecedent fonts such as the ones from Google Fonts. But alike if admonition is provided, it’s not necessarily constant or complete abundant to accomplish comparisons based on it.
So in adjustment to allocate and analyze typefaces myself, I had to booty a abutting attending at chantry files and acquisition automated means to abstract information. Fonts are attainable in a array of book formats, but eventually they are about consistently attainable as TTF (TrueType Fonts).
Other formats are OTF (OpenType) that includes admonition for added appearance such as ligatures or WOFF (Web Attainable Chantry Format) that can abbreviate the chantry and abundance added meta data.
Image Source: soidergi.com
In the afterward area I will call how I abstinent contrast, x-height, amplitude and weight of all fonts provided in the Google Fonts Library. The aforementioned methods could be activated to added chantry libraries such as Typekit or fonts from your computer.
The adverse describes the arrangement of attenuate to blubbery strokes. There are typefaces with little achievement contrast, e.g. slab serifs or abounding sans serif typefaces advised for user interfaces, e.g. Roboto or San Francisco. There are others with a lot of contrast, such as Bodoni or Didot. To admeasurement the contrast, we can trace the outlines of an “o” and attending for the aboriginal and bigger distances amid close and alien shape.
It’s a simple and commensurable letter appearance that about consistently consists of two paths. It’s a acceptable applicant for ciphering the adverse of a typeface. (Side note: While acutely simple, the appearance of an “o” is absolutely absolutely adamantine to draw well, because the achievement needs to calmly abound and compress amid attenuate and thick.)
opentype.js provides acceptable means to get aisle abstracts to draw characters to a SVG element. I absolutely draw close and alien paths separately. Again I acclimated an algorithm that campaign forth anniversary aisle and measures the ambit at anniversary point. We can again annual the arrangement amid the longest and beeline ambit and voila — we accept a commensurable adverse measurement.
The x-height is an important appropriate that can be an indicator for accurateness and perceived admeasurement of a font. It is usually abstinent at the top of a lowercase x.
opentype.js provides us with the bare measurements, namely yMax for any glyph.
In accession to the complete measurement, it ability be advantageous to additionally analyze the x-height to the acme of the ascenders. Thus, we can get allotment ethics such as “the x-height is 60% of the uppercase letters”.
To accomplish the ethics commensurable (some fonts use 1000 unitsPerEm, others 2048 unitsPerEm), it is all-important to adapt the ethics and map them to a ambit of 0–1.
With this bulk I try to butt how attenuated or advanced a chantry is. Is it rather abridged or extended? One abstraction I had was to admeasurement the amplitude of an “M”. But to accomplish those comparable, one would charge to put those into ambience of the all-embracing admeasurement or the x-height. Some typefaces additionally ability accept absolute appropriate “M” glyphs that don’t represent the blow of the typeface.
Another abstraction is to annual the boilerplate glyph amplitude application a sample chat like “Hamburgefontsiv”. While this works absolutely well, it additionally would charge some normalization in annual to the all-embracing architecture and acme of the typeface.
Another admission is to attending at the admeasurement of an “o”. This gives suprisingly acceptable ethics for comparing the widths of fonts.
To admeasurement the weight, I cede the lowercase „o“ appearance to a HTML canvas element, ample it atramentous and acrylic the accomplishments white. I again admeasurement the arrangement amid atramentous and white pixels. A calligraphy or aerial chantry will appearance absolute little values, while a absolute abundant blocky chantry will appearance aerial values. This gave me okayish results, but I appetite to advance this by barometer absolute stems of glyphs in the future.
When all glyphs of a book accept the aforementioned width, they are alleged monospaced. Important actuality is, that we can’t necessarily attending a the glyphs themselves to actuate the width. Alike in a monospaced font, a dot appearance takes beneath arresting amplitude than a “m”. Thus, we charge to booty into annual the advanceWidth acreage that describes the airy amplitude about a glyph. Actuality we can acquisition out that Google Fonts uses monospaced as a appearance classification, but not to announce the abstruse property. Fonts such as Lekton or Libre Barcode are not listed as monospaced, but technically they are.
Once we accept a table of values, we can adapt those and again compute distances to see how agnate fonts are. I implemented a absolute basal adaptation of it that isn’t terrible, but could be bigger with college accurateness of the data. Also, we ability apperceive affinity altered than an algorithm that treats every appropriate equally. In that case, we ability charge to counterbalance some backdrop added than others.
I’ve congenital an interface to accomplish the database accessible. Fonts can be beheld in a filigree of capricious admeasurement to get an overview over all fonts or to booty a attending at capacity of a few fonts.
Fonts can be sorted by weight, x-height, contrast, width, name and cardinal of styles. Depending on the allocation criteria, able glyphs are shown.
Area archive appearance the administration of ethics and can be acclimated to clarify out assertive values. Anniversary chantry has a detail appearance with a few samples, glyphs, metrics, Panose admonition and agnate fonts.
Explore the datasethttps://getflourish.github.io/anatomy-of-typefaces/For some acumen some fonts abort to bulk in Safari, so I acclaim to use Chrome.
Image Source: icdcenter.org
The dataset invites one to analyze and acquisition similarities and irregularities. Setting low adverse and serif will acknowledgment all the slab serif fonts. Low x-height will accord us mostly handwritten or calligraphy fonts. Absolute aerial ethics generally announce all caps typefaces.
MisfitsSelecting the lower or aerial ends of the spectrum will generally acknowledgment absolute awe-inspiring designs. They mostly abatement into the chic display.
Ugly differencesThe filigree overview reveals the abominable differences of baselines and alignments. Some fonts are radically off the grid. And alike with attenuate differences, it becomes bright that a simple 1-to-1 chantry barter is about absurd — with the barring of some accepted fonts that all assume to allotment a agnate skeleton.
Average is goodIt’s absorbing to see that frequently acclimated fonts we accede to be good, all abatement into a agnate subset. By adjusting the filters, I can cut bottomward the annual to beneath than bisected and all the accepted fonts will still be there. Selecting the boilerplate ranges is a simple way to clarify out the misfits and extremes.
Forked FontsWe can additionally acquisition fonts that attending absolutely the aforementioned as others but with altered names. Some of those are forks that extend the appearance set to abutment added languages, e.g. Alegreya & Sahitya.
Number of stylesAbove all, the cardinal of styles a chantry has is a acceptable indicator for its affection — at atomic as continued as designers still charge to accomplish a lot of accomplishment to architecture assorted weights and styles. Variable fonts are on the border and complete customization may be the future. But until then, it’s acceptable admonition to assignment with chantry families that accept assorted styles. Thus, allocation the accumulating by cardinal of styles is a fast way to get an overview of the best fonts available.
This is a circuitous way of attractive at chantry exploration. Ultimately, the affection of after-effects depends on the affection of the fonts and the abstracts about them. Alone browsing Google Fonts is absolute attached as their all-embracing affection isn’t accepted to be the best in class. I’ve already started to run assay on the Typekit library and ultimately met new challenges of user interface achievement back previewing so abounding fonts. Such an adventure requires able caching and preloading strategies. But I don’t accept to go that far aloof yet.
With no AI involved, I now accept a acceptable compassionate of what’s central chantry files and what’s missing. The added and added I got into this, I accomplished how massive the acreage of chantry technology is and that I’m alone accepting into article that’s been done for decades already.
With such a dataset, one could do added things:
Try the apphttps://getflourish.github.io/anatomy-of-typefaces/
Before I broadcast the raw dataset I appetite to advance the assay and try to add added characteristics. If you accept any account for improvement, don’t alternate to leave a comment. Acknowledgment for reading!
Panose Allocation Metrics GuideThe adviser from 1991 describes in detail how to admeasurement alone glyphs to acquire commensurable metrics. Unfortunately those abstracts charge to be taken by duke and can be absolutely time-consuming.
Taking The Robots To Architecture School, Allotment 1 by Jon GoldAlready in May 2016, Jon Gold wrote about his admission to analysing fonts in depth, accoutrement capacity such as aphorism based design, bogus intelligence and the appliance of such datasets for architecture tools.
Google Fonts ToolsA set of attainable souce accoutrement that are acclimated to analyse fonts for use on the Google Fonts website. You can acquisition agnate algorithms there, but additionally added ones that for archetype determin the italic bend of a font.
Font BakeryFont bakery is a set of Python accoutrement that runs checks on TrueType files, and Google Fonts accompanying metadata files.
Q: Why didn’t you use abstracts from web chantry services?A: Casework that accommodate fonts such as Typekit, Google Fonts, Fontstand, Fontshop, MyFonts, etc. all accommodate their own set of filters with added or beneath accomplished control. The APIs of those casework additionally alter in the bulk of admonition that is attainable for anniversary font. Usually the chic is provided, but added admonition is either larboard out or not accordant amid the services.
The afterward archetype shows, that all we get from Google Fonts Web API for Roboto is its chic sans-serif, variants and subsets. https://gist.github.com/getflourish/d79836b0bebb6b44f76389b623fd7dc1
The Typekit API provides added admonition about width, x-height, weight, classification, contrast, capitals and a recommendation.https://gist.github.com/getflourish/8c7c9ab4ddcf422cbb77866b5cf61575
As you can see, in the archetype API result, the admonition about a chantry is provider-specific. In adjustment to be added adjustable and absolute I started to do my own analysis.
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