How about a focus on non-Latin scripts?

TYPO Labs 2018 gathered participant from around the globe putting their heads together on latest developments in Font Technologies. Next to a variety of tool related questions was the trending topic of non-Latin fonts! What is going on today in the non-Latin world? Here is a little round up.

– –

by Toshiya Izumo

TYPO Labs 2018

Sahar Afshar & José Miguel Solé Bruning, TYPO Labs 2018, photo: Norman Posselt

On the first day of TYPO Labs, Sahar Afshar and José Solé Bruning presented their collaboration.

How can we benefit from Variable Font technology in Arabic script? Not by changing the whole letter but by changing single elements that determine how a single glyph is set on the page.

– José Solé Bruning


With an introduction on the historical background Sahar explained how to use Kashida, a type of justification in some cursive scripts related to Arabic. She pointed out that Kashida is used in Arabic typography because of aesthetics, legibility, and justification. Kashida has a long calligraphic connection between characters and this connection can be regulated using variable font features. However, the point of connection causes problems when creating a variable font. José Solé showed how they tried to solve the problems of Kashida connection in a collaboration between the designer and type engineer.

There are a lot of rules how to use kashidas in Arabic type. The Reasons: aesthetics, legibility and justification.

– Sahar Afshar 


TYPO Labs 2018

John Hudson, TYPO Labs 2018, photo: Norman Posselt

John Hudson referred to the history of type as the history of adapting technology to design. Of course, non-Latin scripts share the same fate. He showed specific details regarding the design of the Indic scripts Nirmala UI for Windows OS. Vertical space issues caused by marks, accents and their positions make Indic scripts that were designed with other technical circumstances in mind, a unique challenge in font technology.

TYPO Labs 2018

Rob Sheeter & Garret Rieger, TYPO Labs 2018, photo: Norman Posselt

Anything good on the web is good for Google.

– Rob Sheeter 

On the last day of TYPO Labs, Rod Sheeter and Garret Rieger presented Korean on Google Fonts. They shared their struggle regarding font size optimization and their history, minimizing transfer size, cross-site caching, a specific issues of delivering Korean fonts and more.

They are currently working on Simplified Chinese, Traditional Chinese, and Japanese which bear even larger file sizes and show their own problems compared to Korean. The presented cutting-edge solutions of Google are always staggering to the technology obsessed TYPO Labs audience.

Rod Sheeter’s and Garret Rieger’s fonts can be found here:

on Google Fonts

on GitHub

Minjoo Ham, TYPO Labs 2018, photo: Norman Posselt

Minjoo Ham gave a talk about Korean script Hangul and her typeface projects. The best thing was how easily we can learn to read some Korean and be able to order our own delicious Bibimbap when traveling over there: Once you have acquired 14 consonants and 10 vowels you will be fine, as Minjoo promised in her mouth-watering presentation with many slides showing traditional Korean dishes.

A wise man can acquaint himself with hangul before the morning is over; a stupid man can learn it in the space of ten days.

– Sejong the Great 

In Addition, she showed her own type design theory Cultural Bakery which she was inspired by Type Cooker by Paul van der Laan and Erik van Blokland. In her work routines Minjoo combines the method of rational Type Cooker and her conceptual Cultural Bakery to make a new Korean typeface from Latin script.

The most interesting insight we obtained from the non-Latin talks at TYPO Labs 2018 was that the Variable Font technic has started to show a great potential to correctly display complex font systems with intricate ligature constructions for the first time. Let’s roll up the sleeves and see what’s next!