Extensis WebINK funds open source ttfautohint: better fonts on screen


We are proud to have helped the ttfautohint developer complete their $30,000 round of funding. This is the financial backing needed to complete their great open source project that will improve how fonts look on screen.

So what exactly is ttfautohint? The project has a cool video that that explains the concepts and goals.

Pretty much all computer fonts have “hinting” in them. This is additional code in the font that helps optimize how the font looks at lower resolutions, such as on screen. Hinting code for TrueType fonts can be very complicated indeed. Although some fonts are hinted manually, for fabulous results on screen, most fonts use automated hinting. Autohinting features in font editing programs unfortunately have not produced great results to date.

The open source FreeType font rendering library includes code to autohint fonts as they are being drawn on screen. Most fonts have already been autohinted by font editors like FontLab Studio or FontForge, the results from FreeType can often be better. Fonts look and work better at smaller sizes. Woot! Check out some rendering samples on the project page.

Last year Dave Crossland had the great idea of taking the FreeType autohinting code, and find a way to bake it in to fonts. An autohinting program that would actually modify fonts to put the hinting adjustments FreeType makes on the fly and throws away back into them, so the improved rendering could be seen in Windows apps as well as those apps using FreeType.

Werner Lemberg, the developer of FreeType, agreed to make a prototype. When the prototype proved the idea was practical, Dave and Werner set the project up as an open source project and invited people and companies who care about improving web typography to contribute. FontLab, Google, and many individuals have contributed so far, raising over $20,000.

Today we at Extensis are happy to announce we are supporting this project with $7,000 so that Werner reaches his $30,000 target. This contribution will support the development of a graphical user interface to the program, so that all font designers can easily experiment with it. We look forward to seeing the positive results on-screen in the future!

3 Responses to “Extensis WebINK funds open source ttfautohint: better fonts on screen”

  1. Brian Burger

    Love your project. Any thought to handwriting instruction fonts like D’Nelian or Zaner-Blosser? There is a huge demand for these to be used with Google Drive in elementary schools across the English-speaking world. Thousands of teachers would be grateful to whomever can pull this off.

  2. Thomas Phinney

    Although we could have some instructional handwriting fonts in WebINK, that would not directly help with Google Drive. It only works with the fonts Google chooses to enable with their service. I’m afraid you need to bug the good folks at Google!


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