2017.05.30 Status update



Hi friends,

Since our last status update, Kevin and I have been working on a variety of fixes, UI polish, layout semantics, etc. Necessary, but not super exciting stuff.

So for this update, I thought I'd share some ideas about digital typesetting that we've found interesting. We've heard from many designers that they're frustrated with the lack of typographic control in current digital design tools. Why can't we have the kind of sophisticated, nuanced typesetting that a print tool like InDesign offers?

The thing is, digital design is different than print... so we can't just copy what's been done before.

One reason is that setting type on the web (or iOS or Android) is more technically challenging than print. The product team over at Medium wrote an excellent explanation of why it seems like typography on the screen never quite does what we want it to do. Many of these issues are things we've had to work through in Subform so far.

Digital also has unique requirements that don't apply to the printed page. This tension between print typesetting traditions and the new requirements of digital is covered beautifully in these two essays by Robin Rendle: The New Web Typography and Futures of Typography. After reading these, you'll be able to impress your design friends by relating Gutenberg to variable fonts.

What the heck are variable fonts, you ask? Good question. Going forward, our typography needs to be able to respond to things like viewport size, screen densities, ambient light, and reading distances. Variable fonts are one way we can begin to build dynamic designs that account for these conditions.

For more info, check out Roel Niesken's introduction, Andrew Johnson's deep dive on font interpolation, and Bram Stein and Tim Brown's interview on the responsive web design podcast.

To see variable fonts in action, take a look at Andrew's experiment with variable fonts and reading distances and his beta tool Typeshift.

Last but not least, check out this interview with Bram Stein about his Typography Inspector experiment. It brings up some interesting ideas about how our design tools can make suggestions or propose iterations automatically, based on design best-practices.

As always, we'd love to hear your thoughts on what typographic features you want to see in Subform.

Have a great week,

Ryan + Kevin


Hi, glad to hear, you are so concerned with typography!

The most important thing that is omitted almost everywhere is the precise positioning of the first baseline. We need a way to explicitly specify our intention. I think InDesign covers most of the important cases.

Inline elements are also important. In HTML/CSS and in InDesign you can put any element inside of the text and it reflows, when the copy or frame size changes.
It is very hard to emulate in most graphic applications.

Of course, we should be able to do everything that is possible in CSS (numbered and bullet lists too).
And with OpenType features: https://helpx.adobe.com/typekit/using/open-type-syntax.html (if not within GUI they could be available through CSS).


right now the #1 thing that bothers me about typography in subform (in addition to not being able to really manage fonts easily) is that you can't set the text to automatically line-wrap inside of a container AND for the container to automatically expand vertically to fit the text. So I end up having to use fixed-height text containers and it really messes up the design.


Hi @ldubya , thanks for writing.

I just implemented basic line breaking last week, so it'll be in the next release.
See this previous thread for some discussion on the topic: https://talk.subformapp.com/t/still-no-text-wrap/1026/4

The algorithm I implemented for the upcoming release is a simple, "place words until you run out of room, then start a new line" algorithm.
We don't have any support for things like nonbreaking spaces, hyphenation, or vertical text.

I'll start a longer topic to discuss details and get ya'lls feedback after we launch the next release.


Just wanted to quickly chime in here and say that the Subform guys are doing a phenomenal job behind-the-scenes. I know in terms of a release there hasn't been one for quite some time, but I test drove the beta the other week, and it's looking and functioning fantastically. The UI looks great, as does the GUI, and I've started playing with other new features. I know I can't wait for them to officially roll out the re-release. Simply put, they're hard at work. And good things are coming.


Is there a way to get involved in beta testing?


@Ryan reached out to a few people to do some one-on-one user tests, but we're learned everything we needed to and not doing any more before the larger release to everyone on the forum.
Part of the reason is that doing one-on-one tests takes a lot of time, and we're focussing on getting the next version out ASAP. Thanks for offering, though!


Nice. Can’t wait to switch from Antetype. Not having classes is really annoying, and uncompressed SQLite database (their file format) grows really huge :smile:


the beta within the beta.... within the beta :wink: