Using custom fonts is getting increasingly easier. We’ll cover the basics of usage here and get into the more in-depth features that are helpful for developers who want to level up and aim to perfect advanced concepts, like loading font files.
We've already hit you with a one-two punch of variable fonts today. Robin shared Richard Rutter's post on real-world usage of them. Ollie Williams introduced us to the in's-and-out's of using them on the web.
I figured we'd make it a trifecta and link up our discussion about variable fonts with Jason Pamental. Dave and I talk with Jason for an entire hour digging into the real story, possibilities, and future of all this variable fonts business. Don't miss his or Mandy Michael's demo Collections either.
In 2016, an important development in web typography was jointly announced by representatives from Adobe, Microsoft, Apple, and Google. Version 1.8 of the OpenType font format introduced variable fonts. With so many big names involved, it's unsurprising that all browsers are on-board and racing ahead with implementation.
Yesterday Richard Rutter posted a great piece that explores how the team at Clearleft built the new Ampersand conference website using variable fonts (that’s the technology that allows us to bundle multiple widths and weights into a single font file). Here’s the really exciting part though:
Two months ago browser support for variable fonts was only 7%, but as of this morning, support was at over 60%. This means font variations is a usable technology right now.
And the nifty thing is that there’s a relatively large number of variable fonts to experiment with, not only in browsers but also in desktop design apps, too:
Variable font capable software is already more pervasive than you might think. For example, the latest versions of Photoshop and Illustrator support them, and if you’re using macOS 10.13+ or iOS 11+ the system font San Francisco uses font variations extensively. That said, the availability of variable fonts for use is extremely limited. At the time of writing there are not really any commercial variable webfonts available, but there is a growing number of free and experimental variable webfonts, as showcased in the Axis Praxis playground.
Adobe also made a bunch of variable fonts available a while back, if you’re looking for more typefaces.