Dear Devs & Writers

Keep your friends close— developers and writers closer.

Today’s issue is about typography (doy!), but in the context of developers, writers and their professions. You may read the title for this issue and wonder, “Why on earth does a developer or writer need to know anything about typography?”.

Well, both work to make designs come alive, through code and words respectively, and if you think about it, content, and thereby, typography, is a common thread connecting writers–designers–developers.

Most importantly, the more overlap there is in the languages we all speak, the more we’re able to empathise, collaborate and thrive!

Let’s get into it!


🌐 Introduction to Variable Fonts on the Web 🌐

I promised we’ll delve into variable fonts, what they are and how they're used, and who am I to not keep promises I make in the newsletter I write?

Variable Fonts are a more recent addition to the OpenType font format, changing the way we make and use fonts on desktop and web. Simply put, they offer the possibility to pack many different styles into a single font file. That means you can have bold, medium, light, italics and every weight and style in between, all in one file. It also gives you the ability to transition smoothly from a style to another, animating along one or more axes.

It would be naive of me to claim that we, as an industry, have fully tapped into the potential and possibilities of variable fonts, but their usefulness in web design and development is unparalleled! Read all about it here.


🗣 Why Talk when you can Try? 👩‍💻

ANYBODY. A typeface whose origins is rooted in the type designer’s love of Impact (think memes) combined with an affinity for Eurostile, and that's Anybody. Anybody is variable type mega family of 90 styles. In the foundry’s own words—

It has quirks to help separate it from meme text or a movie title. That said, it would work expertly as meme text or a movie title, we just don’t want you to feel limited by those options. Which is how it got its name, Anybody.

Anybody comes in static styles for desktop and web as well as a single variable font and has received several updates since its release in August of 2018. Anybody is available with an Open Font License, AKA free to use, forever. And is available to download on Github.


✍️ In Search of the Perfect Writing Font ✍️

We talk a lot about typography in the context of reading— concepts of legibility and readability, but what about type for writing? Let’s first get some definitions out of the way.

monospaced font, also called a fixed-pitchfixed-width, or non-proportional font, is a font whose letters and characters each occupy the same amount of horizontal space. Monospaced fonts’ origins are born from the limitations of mechanical typewriters. When the typist pressed a key, the carriage moved the paper the same distance each time, making every letter occupy the exact same horizontal space. Curiously, monospace fonts were also widely used in early computers because of their limited graphical capabilities. Every character had to be addressed and created within the confines a simple grid of tiles (pixels) on the screen. Monospace fonts are still used today for typesetting computer code because it’s easier to discern symbols and typing mistakes in long lines of source code. Meanwhile, a duospaced font is a fixed-width font where there are single and double-width characters.

PHEW.

Monospace fonts have historically been used by writers to communicate writing. What does that mean?

The typographic rawness of a monospace font tells the writer: “This is not about how it looks, but what it says. Say what you mean and worry about the style later.”

iA (Information Architects) writes about their explorations, trials and tribulations with monospace fonts and their pursuit of the perfect writing font.


And that’s it folks! Hope you enjoyed this issue. Without getting too philosophical, I think this issue should serve as the perfect excuse to empathise with your peers of adjacent professions. Whatever kind of designer you might be!

As always, you can reply to this email, or drop me a DM on Twitter or a comment below! 👇

Have a fantastic Sunday!
🌈 Sneha.