Modified versions of v6 Roman fonts

I appreciate all of the hard work that has gone into the v6 Roman fonts. Thank you!

But I’m a little confused about “modified” versions of these fonts. They are not available in TypeTuner (only v5 is available to select), so you would need to use specific features in your software to select different options. But the “Using Font Features” page says that it’s very difficult in Word.

I’m thinking specifically about two modified fonts that our users use all the time: Literacy variants and Compact line spacing (and also the combination of Literacy Compact). How do I tell someone to get the Literacy and/or Compact modifications of the new font if they are using Word? It seems like you should at least provide those two commonly-used modifications of the v6 Roman fonts.

And maybe I’m just not patient enough, and you plan to add the v6 fonts to TypeTuner. But this comment on the Download - Latin, Cyrillic, and Greek Fonts page doesn’t sound promising:

We do not currently plan to provide subsets based on version 6, as the need for subset fonts has been considerably reduced by current font and browser technology. If you have a particular need for any of these fonts to be updated to version 6 please contact us and describe your need.

I’m hoping that if you don’t provide subsets, that you at least plan on putting the v6 fonts in TypeTuner. From my perspective (of seeing very high use of Literacy and Compact modifications), you should still provide those high-use subsets of Literacy and Compact, but I would be willing to type-tune them myself. But we do need SOME path for Word users to use v6 fonts modified with Literacy and Compact variants. And even in LibreOffice Writer, is it a good idea to ask the end user to manually select literacy variants, to get a font of “Charis SIL:ss11&ss12”? I think “Charis SIL Literacy” as a distinct font will have a lot more success. And what would be the recommended method of getting “Compact”? Setting the line spacing manually? That would be a pain if you having changing font sizes in your document. Or is there some “Compact” feature that I’m missing?

Thanks for your input…

Hi Jeff -

Don’t fret - we’ll still be meeting the needs that are out there. The differences between TypeTuner, ‘modified’ fonts, and subsets is sometimes confusing. Our strategy and timing also differs between them. Here’s what we’re intending to do, in approximate order:

TypeTuner - We fully intend to make the v6 fonts support TypeTuner as soon as we can, but it won’t be right away. It’s a bit complicated and we have limited staff. It would have been great to have v6 support TypeTuner on release, but we decided getting v6 out was more important than delaying until the TypeTuner work was all done.

TypeTuner Web - This is the web site that will run TypeTuner for you and allow you to download fonts with certain features turned on by default, so that you don’t have to depend on apps to have a UI for font features. As soon as the fonts support TypeTuner we’ll place them up on TypeTuner Web.

Modified fonts - These are special ‘pre-tuned’ versions of the fonts, like Compact and Literacy. These are actually produced using TypeTuner - we don’t do a bunch of further modifications. In the past we have made special download packages and put them on the download page of the main fonts, but they are essentially identical to what TypeTuner Web would provide. In fact, some of the v5 modified font download links are just internal links to TypeTuner Web! We will certainly make Compact, Literacy, and some other modified fonts available, first through TypeTuner Web, and then possibly as separate links.

Subset fonts - These a very different from TypeTuner fonts, as they only contain the glyphs needed for a certain region or use (e.g. Charis SIL Afr). The main benefit of these in the past has been that they are smaller than the main fonts and useful for mobile apps and web sites. Current web font technology, however, such as WOFF2, now provides highly compressed versions of the full fonts. These can likely meet most of the need.

IOW if you’re using a v5 subset font right now you should try the v6 WOFF2 fonts instead - they are in the main download package in the ‘web’ folder. But if the v6 WOFF2 fonts don’t meet your need we’d like to know more about that need.

The reality is that providing and supporting subset fonts is technically tricky and time consuming and the pressure on our limited staff time is already high. Unless there is a clear and strong need for subset fonts we don’t plan on producing them. That will allow us to be much more responsive to other needs and get on with v7 and beyond much more quickly.

I hope that clarifies our plans and reassures you that we’re not abandoning TypeTuner, Compact, or Literacy. It will just take a while for us to build in that support and provide those modified versions in some way.


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