Kerning 2017

Thomas Phinney

Variable Fonts: Full Circle 1991–2017

Jun 2017

In the early 1990s, Adobe and Apple independently developed Multiple Master fonts and GX Variations, competing for 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.


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