3 ways tech is changing type

USA Today Network type examples

Launched back in 1991 by Swiss designer Bruno Maag, Dalton Maag has created type designs for the likes of Google, Amazon and Nokia. Priding itself on working with clients both large and small, local and global, to create a range of type-related services, the studio is perfectly placed to comment on how technology is set to revolutionise the industry.

To get a taste of what to expect from web fonts in the near future, we caught up with Dalton Maag's very own Bianca Berning and Jany Belluz to hear how advancements in type design will affect what we read.

01. Type consistency 

Detail of USA Today Network type

Dalton Maag created Unify, a custom font for USA Today

"As type design is such detailed work, we are always looking to develop systems and processes that streamline the design process and ensure total consistency," says Dalton Maag software developer Jany Belluz.

"This could be focused around enhancing the precision of our designs across multiple scripts and thousands of characters, to streamlining the process for delivering font files to clients. The goal in the future is to ensure we’re as efficient as possible, to allow font developers to focus on the most interesting and valuable part of their job: designing."

02. The potential of variable fonts

Example of BBC Reith type

BBC's Reith was a custom font for the channel's digital platforms

There's a lot of excitement around variable fonts right now, and while use cases are presently still sparse, it's a technology Dalton Maag is taking seriously. "As a typographer and type designer I am eager to see what users will create with variable fonts, especially when it comes to user-centred, responsive digital typography," reveals Bianca Berning.

"As variable fonts require a slightly different approach in terms of testing and QA , type foundries will have to improve their technical support once they become a standard deliverable alongside static desktop and web fonts."

03. Open source innovations

Ducati Style custom font

Ducati Style was created by Dalton Maag for the bike brand

Open source collaborations are driving constant innovations in type design, and one long-term project Jany Belluz is proud of is called glyphsLib. "The goal was to allow our font developers to swap easily between two font design editors that they use: FontLab and Glyphs," he explains.

"The file formats of those two programs are nonstandard and incompatible, so my goal with glyphsLib was to make sure that they could go back and forth between them without losing important information. My task was to get familiar with both file formats and write code to convert each tidbit of information from one to the other. This now means our designers have much more flexibility, so they can use the best-suited program for each task."

This article was originally published in issue 289 of Computer Arts, the world's best-selling design magazine. Buy issue 289 or subscribe to Computer Arts.

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Tom May

Tom May is an award-winning journalist and editor specialising in design, photography and technology. Author of the Amazon #1 bestseller Great TED Talks: Creativity, published by Pavilion Books, Tom was previously editor of Professional Photography magazine, associate editor at Creative Bloq, and deputy editor at net magazine. Today, he is a regular contributor to Creative Bloq and its sister sites Digital Camera World, T3.com and Tech Radar. He also writes for Creative Boom and works on content marketing projects.