I just can’t stop bookmarking great links related to typography. I’m afraid I’m going to have to subject you, yet again, to a bunch of them all grouped up. So those of you that care about web type stuff, enjoy.
I know there are lots of good reasons to be excited about variable fonts. The design possibilities of endless variations in one file is chief among them. But I remain the most excited about the performance benefits. Having a single file that elegantly handles the thicker weights (for bolding) and italics is so cool. I can’t wait to wave my fist saying back in my day we had to load multiple files for our font variations!
Mandy Michael digs into the performance implications in a deeper way than just reducing the number of requests.
Even if you consider the slightly larger file sizes, when combined with improved font compression formats like WOFF2, font subsetting and font loading techniques like
font-display: swap;we end up in a situation where we can still get smaller overall font file sizes as well as a significant increase in stylistic opportunity.
Anna Monus did some variable font performance testing as well, evaluating the extreme case of loading 12 variations of a font against a variable font. Even though the copy of the variable font she had for Roboto was massive (over 1MB), there was a perf gain compared against loading 12 variations.
Roboto is on Google Fonts, of course, and it’s got the #1 position by far. But Google Fonts has Inter now, and I’d expect that leap up in the charts as it’s got a style that everyone seems to like and can work with just about anything.
Seeing a variable font control a smiley face is never not gonna make me happy. Don’t miss that first face-ness slider, lollllz.
Klint Finley on the proliferation of high-quality open-source fonts for WIRED. Sometimes they are backed by companies with thick wallets, which makes sense. But the motivation for doing it varies. Sometimes quality is the goal. Like open-source anything, lots of contributions, can, if handled well, lead to a better product. But open-source doesn’t always mean there isn’t a business possibility, and if not, not everyone cares about turning a profit on everything.
Speaking of open-source fonts, Collletttivo is an open-source font foundry with a good dozen typefaces, including a variable font one. It’s a super fun site to explore with the little fake windows you open up and move around.
There’s a new mac app called FontGoggles for poking into a font file and taking a look at what it offers. Seems like that would be easy but it really isn’t. I like that it supports WOFF/2 as that’s pretty much all we deal with on the web.
Also, remember there is a website that looks around in font files with the best name ever.
Font Match allows you to put fonts on top of each other for comparisons. Seems like it’s more for large type and comparing their features, while Font style matcher is more about comparing paragraph text.
In fact, using Font style matcher to make a perfect font fallback is one of my all-time favorite CSS-Tricks. Sssshh… don’t tell anybody but I’m compiling those all-time favorites into a book, like this chapter. You’d have to subscribe to read it, because that’s kind of the point: I’d like to sell the book. So if you happen to subscribe now, there is stuff to read there, but you’d be a very early supporter for the rest of it.