John Hudson designs typefaces and makes fonts. As co-founder of Tiro Typeworks Ltd., a digital foundry specialising in custom font solutions for multilingual publishing and computing, he has been responsible for or has collaborated on type designs for Arabic, Bengali, Cyrillic, Devanagari, Ethiopic, Greek, Gurmukhi, Hebrew, Latin, Odia, Sinhala, Telugu, Thai, and other scripts. Tiro’s clients include software companies such as Adobe and Microsoft, and scholarly publishers such as Brill and Harvard University Press, and the STIpub consortium of scientific publishers.
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.