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OpenType 2.0 Panel, 2023 Edition

The 2015 ATypI conference in São Paulo, Brazil included an “OpenType, Open Mic” session where people across the industry presented their wishlist for OpenType 2.0, followed by a panel discussion (LWN coverage). For the next year, a number of private, invite-only meetings were held by the implementers of industry-leading OpenType software systems—both “font reader” rendering systems and “font writer” editor apps. Finally the OpenType Variable Fonts update was publicly announced at the 2016 ATypI conference in Warsaw, Poland—as version 1.8, not 2.0. Since then, innovation in font-format technology slowed and then largely stopped, outside of minor corrections to variable fonts technology, and advancing the COLR format. 

That situation has recently changed, thanks to work led by Behdad Esfahbod that he calls “Boring Expansion” (BE). Unlike the past, these proposals for new format innovation have all happened in public forums, from initial YouTube Live presentations, to Github discussions and reference implementations, to a recent submission to the MPEG Open Font Format standards body, but they are not yet widely known to the ATypI community. This first hybrid version of the ATypI conference is a good moment to share these proposals more widely.

In this long-running session, ATypI offers a platform for a public discussion between some of those who have been involved in bringing the “BE” proposals to their current state (Behdad, Dave Crossland from Google, Simon Cozens, and Just van Rossum), and some of those who are critical to “reader” and “writer” implementations of new font format technologies:

Sharon Correll from SIL, Peter Constable from Microsoft, Frank Grießhammer from Adobe, Tom Rickner from Monotype, Georg Seifert from Glyphs App, and Adam Twardoch from FontLab.. (Note: Panelists are only representing themselves and their personal views, not the views of organizations they are associated with.)

Marianna Paszkowska and Dave Crossland will join as moderators. Dave will present the “B.E.” innovations in three parts, with discussions after each part, and then the audience will be invited to ask questions and provide feedback to the panelists.

We acknowledge that this session’s current panelists do not reflect a diverse range of identities. If anyone attending ATypI would like to join the panel, please reach out to Thomas Phinney (tphinney at cal.berkeley.edu).

At a future ATypI event, we feel it will be important to offer a platform to a more diverse panel, inviting both font creators and font users to give their input on how best to advance the OpenType standard. Demos, use-cases, and critiques are essential for implementers, to motivate them to allocate resources to implement, to test their early implementations, and for them all to align and standardize. It is important for the ATypI community to engage with font-format innovation in this way so that it may serve all participants in our industry.