6 Aug 2008 yosch   » (Master)

Coming of age for the open font community

Well I guess I should start blogging and join the web-based pow-wow since Planet Open Fonts is now up and has already gathered a number of very interesting posts. (There's also a Satellite open fonts vcs tracking VCS commits for various font-related community repos).

So what's been happening in font land these days? We are we in term of the open font community now? Glad you asked because actually things have pretty much exceeded our initial expectations! Despite the many challenges to tackle - especially with the more complex writing systems - we're well on our way I think! Looking back at the beginning of our research around the ideal community model for fonts back in 2001 with Victor's Gentium project and the Writing Systems Implementation work with UNESCO it's tremendous to see the concerted efforts from many amazing people out there to establish what is needed for a collaborative typographic community over the past few years...

But first of all, why do we actually need open fonts at all? What's the purpose of all this?

Let's put it this way: if Gutenberg's genius and consecutive transformative reforms are attributed to "movable type" designed to accelerate and make the creation of books easier and cheaper, then the open font movement with its Open Font License is designed to go even further and do this at the Free Software level: allowing and encouraging the moving of glyphs and the smart code (modern information age type if you will) around more easily, extending and fixing fonts to make it easier to publish content in as many languages as possible...

The consultation for an ideal collaborative type design and distribution model has been done with much input and refinement from various communities: many different conferences have seen discussions with key community figures, lightning talks, BoFs, talks, demos and workshops covering aspects of the open font community's projects and challenges... Events like Solutions Linux in Paris, RMLL in Dijon, WSIS in Geneva and Tunis, GUADEC in Vilanova, Akademy in Glasgow, UDS in Paris and Prague, Debconf in Edinburgh, LGM in Lyon Montréal and Wroclaw OOoconf in Lyon, TLM in Boston Glasgow and Wroclaw, AtypIconf in Lisbon, TUG in San Diego, BachoTeX in well Bachotex, GNU Hackers meeting 2008 in Bristol. There were also a bunch of IRC meetings, confcalls and mailing-list discussions.

The result is that we now have a good and community recommended licensing framework, a pretty advanced toolkit (fontforge and friends) and an increasing number of community members (upstream projects and distros as linked from the planet ) benefiting from and contributing to the improvement of an open font landscape.

I'll go over some figures and give a more precise overview of who's been involved, the significant milestones and the next challenges we have in the next posts. Stay tuned.

Free the glyphs !

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