Monday, October 10, 2016

Fonts 101 :)

BRT has talked about how the net has eliminated the Tower of Babel regarding file formats as any app that produces files not compatible with the net is toast. Now comes the same universality regarding fonts and applying them to the languages of the world, something Google did in designing NOTO, the international font dataset for the world.

When text is rendered by a computer, sometimes characters are displayed as “tofu”. They are little boxes to indicate your device doesn’t have a font to display the text.

Google has been developing a font family called Noto, which aims to support all languages with a harmonious look and feel. Noto is Google’s answer to tofu. The name noto is to convey the idea that Google’s goal is to see “no more tofu”. Noto has multiple styles and weights, and is freely available to all. The comprehensive set of fonts and tools used in our development is available in our GitHub repositories.

It gets better

Bob Jung hates tofu. His loathing started in the 1980s while living in Tokyo, where he owned an American computer. “In those days, if you bought an American computer you didn’t get fonts in other languages,” he says. “So it was quite common to see tofu.” Now he leads Google’s Internationalization department, ensuring that the company’s products work everywhere. His team spent six years working with designers at Monotype to banish tofu from Google’s devices with a cohesive, pan-language set of fonts called Noto (short for “no more tofu”). Noto, one of the most expansive typographic families ever made, supports 800 languages, 100 scripts in up to eight different weights, innumerable special characters, and absolutely no tofu.

Noto solves a big usability issue that most people don’t know exists. If you write in languages like English, Hindi, Mandarin Chinese, or Russian, for example, you rarely see tofu. Such languages are supported by Unicode, the consortium that approves emoji and maintains software internationalization standards, and your devices come with them.

Being a graphic designer by trade, I can attest to how well designed these fonts truly are as Monotype is one of the great type foundries of the world and the quality of these fonts reflect this quality without issue.

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