FontShop introduces FontShuffle

FontShuffle iPhone screenshot
Screenshot of six randomly-selected Display Sans Serif fonts in FontShop’s new FontShuffle iPhone/iPod Touch App.

I started writing this little post on Monday, in a bit of feeverish anticipation of FontShuffle’s release (pre-announced over the weekend). What is FontShuffle, you ask? FontShop’s Jürgen Siebert writes (in German…), “wouldn’t it be nice to have a type specimen catalog that would fit in your shirt pocket?”

Now FontShuffle is out, and you should go download it. As long as you have an iPhone, of course. If you don’t have an iPhone or an iPod Touch, well, I am very sorry. A few days ago, I thought that I was going to go all in-depth into FontShuffle’s features, but at the moment, I don’t really feel like it. Yes, I could still break the news to the English-speaking world, since it is only about 5:30am on the American East Coast. But what is the point? There is just no way to out-blog the FontBlog. Even if you don’t read German, just ogle at the pictures!

 
Bank Gothic on FontShuffle

I made a few screenshots of FontShuffle in-use on my iPhone, but I got a little dissapointed because Bank Gothic kept coming up, but I don’t think they even included Morris Sans in their FontShuffle database. Despite this tragic oversight, I am still in geek heaven when I think about the product. Why not? I mean, I love fonts, and I love Apple. I dream about serifs and FontLab and MacBook Pros. I’ve been a happier person since I got an iPhone a few weeks ago. Now I have one more toy on it.

I’m pleased to see that FontShuffle was developed for FontShop by Metaquark, the young Berlin student responsible for the excellent FahrInfo Berlin iPhone App. At the moment, FontShuffle does seem a bit 1.0. Why do I say that? Well, I wish I could search for fonts alphabetically! In my type nerd-ness, this is how I always look for fonts. But I trust that the product will be updated and improved in the future. Respect.

 
Dwiggins's type looks so fly on the iPhone, doesn't it?
Dwiggins’s type looks so fly on the iPhone, doesn’t it?

11 Comments

  1. “a”, “w”, “e” and “s” in “awesome”…they look just…wrong!
    And the kerning is craaazy…

  2. Well, those are just Metromedium’s letters, I guess. Metro isn’t everyone’s cup of tea. Maybe some of what you like lies in the rasterization of the letters?

    I wonder if FontShuffle does not support kerning. Metromedium should have kerning in it.

  3. Dunno…it looks “dumb” that’s probably due to the lack of kerning (the font might have kerning rules embedded in the font file…but I guess it makes a little difference if the display app doesn’t support kerning, which I guess is the case…)

  4. It has confirmed on the FontBlog that FontShuffle does NOT show the kerning in the fonts. I have to say that I don’t find this too tragic. Many font management applications don’t show kerning in their samples, either, right? Maybe you should just be careful when you email a client a sample from FontShuffle… make sure that your sample text isn’t about W.A. Dwiggins!

  5. Thanks Dan for your enthusiasm. I am glad you like the program. And yes: Morris Sans has to be part of the 500+ typefaces in FontShuffle … I think I left it out not to corrupt you and to get a neutral review from TypOff. Just kidding: It will be in in v 1.2.

    Kerning is an issue. It would be great to have it, but don’t forget that the type samples must be generated fast and with simplest technology on our server. Fonts are converted into jpgs. so every letter is an image … skillful technologies (e. g. embedding outlines incl metrics) would infringe font software EULAs. Our rasterizer is by far simpler than a word processor or Indesign.
    But I never say never … maybe we will find a work around soon or one of the readers might have an idea.

  6. OK, that makes a lot of sense, both with the EULAs and with the impossibility of individual .jpegs to kern… that is just like old metal type sorts! At least sort of…

  7. The font testers at suitcasetype.com or (I think) H&FJ do support kerning. It may be slower than your expectations (the pictures are generated from the outlines on the server), but it is feasible. … but you already knew that, I guess. Nice app anyway. I would love to have a more deterministic way of viewing the fonts as well.

  8. David, “deterministic” is too big of a word for me at the end of the week. What would a deterministic way of viewing the fonts be?

  9. David, as far as I know all the major retailer’s samplers employ kerning. This includes FontShop, MyFonts, etc. The web-based font render engine method simply doesn’t work for serving the images to the iPhone. But I do hope they find a workaround.

  10. Hahaha deterministic, such a nice word. Well, it has just a shuffle mode (as far as I understood). I would like to be able to _find_ a specific typeface in more controlled way.

    Stephen, for some reason I thought MyFonts and FontShop do not support kerning. Indeeed, both do. I am not very optimistic about a fast-enough workaround. It would mean to kern the pre-generated jpg/png images of individual letters. That is, to translate all kerning metrics to pixels for each type size used. There is also need to avoid overlaps of the white bits with lettershapes (i.e. support transparency). It is just my simple guess, but it does not seem worth it.

  11. kerning pre-generated PNG letters (with alpha channel) would be “something”, It might work as well as real vector-based kerning.

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