Cold Type Fontograhpy for the masses

Bill Reese wreese01 at TAMPABAY.RR.COM
Mon Feb 14 17:36:48 UTC 2011


That template Miriam is shown using was known as a Timely Template.  I 
used them for years inking civil engineering drawings on mylar.


On 2/12/2011 1:29 PM, Valerie Sutton wrote:
> SignWriting List
> February 11, 2011
> Hello Steve -
> Thank you for explaining our coldpress history, and for all you are 
> doing to give users the flexibility to let SignSpellings evolve 
> naturally through use, in your software. Thank you for sharing your 
> vision for SignWriting with us too. I do share the same vision.
> Regarding our work before computers, which you mention...It is fun to 
> think back at our history...I designed wax transfer sheets, back in 
> the early 1980s, and we used to press the wax symbols on layout 
> boards, because we were writing a 20-page tabloid size newspaper in 
> written American Sign Language and Danish Sign Language. This was 
> 1981-1984, before personal computers were actively we 
> prepared publications, like newspapers, with wax and ink pens - it was 
> called the SignWriter Newspaper - and through that research project, 
> which was a newspaper published every three months (it took us three 
> months to prepare one issue of the newspaper with ink pens, like the 
> monks used to write Bibles with ink pens)...we learned a lot ...what 
> Deaf signers really wanted: 1. writing in visual clusters without 
> stick figures... 2. writing Expressively... 3. writing in vertical 
> to approach writing grammar better...and the fact 
> that we needed computers to help us input the symbols...etc...
> History of SignWriter Newspaper
> Here is a picture of Miriam Ina Schroeder's hands, our Deaf co-worker, 
> showing how she wrote with ink pens and a template, back before we 
> stopped using the stick figure in 1984, at the request of Miriam and 
> other Deaf writers:
> Now, in 2011, SignWriting is stable in regards to its symbols, with 
> the ISWA 2010, which will be installed in the upcoming SignPuddle 1.6 
> (thank you for SignPuddle, Steve).
> Visual clusters (written signs or words) do have "centers" and that is 
> a very important part of Steve's programming in SignText in three Lanes -
> Thanks again Steve, for this message about software history, and your 
> vision, and for encoding the International SignWriting Alphabet 2010. 
> Without your encoding of the ISWA 2010, we would not know how to move 
> forward, so you have paved the path and respected our symbols and past 
> achievements. I love these web pages, which you have created. They 
> summarize the ISWA 2010 well:
> Formal SignWriting Plain Text
> and
> ISWA 2010 HTML Reference
> Val ;-)
> -------
> On Feb 11, 2011, at 12:57 PM, Steve Slevinski wrote:
>> Originally, I wrote this message to a list of people who don't 
>> understand SignWriting, but do understand Unicode and Font technologies.
>> I'm happy to announce that an official proposal for the symbols of 
>> the ISWA 2010 may be a reality sooner rather than later.
>> Unofficially, the proposal for the symbols as plain text has already 
>> been finalized through the Center for Sutton Movement Writing.  The 
>> Unicode characters are a small but important aspect to the ISWA 2010 
>> standard.  Some of the character names may change a little, and 
>> additional specifications for the ISWA 2010 will be cataloged.
>> View
>> Download
>> Above the symbols, there is a standard data format for the SignPuddle 
>> data and several potentials encoding models based on general ideas 
>> and researched theory.  Fortunately, we'll all be able to use the 
>> same symbols no matter how we encode the details above plain text.
>> For the SignPuddle data, I know we need better editors.  I'm hoping 
>> that Open Office becomes a reality through SIL's Graphite sometime 
>> this year.  Imagine using SignWriting in a spreadsheet and having it 
>> sort properly. Cut and paste with the SignPuddle data will be a 
>> reality. I am one step away from a font file, then we can try a 
>> custom Graphite viewer and printer.  It will be based on SVG. It is 
>> greatly needed for text and book presentation. Rather than the 
>> current editors, publication is the real bottleneck.
>> Later, keyboarding shouldn't be that hard to restart, although 
>> perfecting a smooth typing system will take time to develop and master.
>> Many ideas for text editors will be tried, all using the same 
>> symbols.  Different encoding families will use the same symbols, but 
>> with different founding philosophies, so that a conversion between 
>> the data will be required.  Below I try to explain my encoding family 
>> and ask for your reaction.
>> Here's the soapbox
>> -------------------
>> Imagine if you will that Valerie created a hotpress catalog of symbol 
>> glyphs: 37,811 of them.  You can imagine each as a physical block of 
>> metal.  The history of hotpress is very interesting for Asian 
>> scripts. Thousands upon thousands of tiny blocks of metal organized 
>> by topic and size.  Each publishing house had a unique and prized 
>> collection of slugs.  This attitude continues with font files and 
>> technologies.  There are amazing craftsmen who do amazing things with 
>> text.
>> In the western world, a much smaller set of hotpress characters 
>> created the printing press and mass communication.
>> Since hotpress chunks are physically bound, they can not overlap.  
>> Recent advances in font technology have enabled glyphs that morph and 
>> can overlap.  There are several competing visions for how font 
>> technology should work on the computer.  It's often platform 
>> specific.  I believe True Type is very different that Open Type.  So 
>> it is a real concern how the Unicode specification and the font 
>> features are implemented on a wide variety of platforms and devices.
>> Interesting article here:
>> I live in a different world.
>> Cold type is based on the precise placement of potentially 
>> overlapping images.  Historically, some publication houses used cold 
>> type technology.  Images were optically displayed and captured by 
>> film negative.  SignWriting has roots in the cold type family.
>> Amazingly, Valerie has already passed through the printing press 
>> stage.  Wax symbols were dipped in ink and individually placed on a 
>> master sheet for copying.  The painstaking work continued for some 
>> time.  It was never mechanized and dropped out of favor.  One 
>> Wikipedian confused the wax & ink printing with handwriting.  He 
>> foolishly dismissed the writing system as too slow to be practical 
>> because he didn't understand.
>> I have continued that vision with the catalog of symbols that Valerie 
>> created.  It was a unintended continuation, but my work has many 
>> historical precedents.  I take this as proof that we are writing 
>> grammatically correct.  Grammar can not be imposed, but must be 
>> created by a group of people over time and discovered after the fact.
>> With a cold type mentality, I allow the writer to become the 
>> fontographer.  We agree that I will not change the general size and 
>> shape of the symbols and that I'll remember the precise placement of 
>> each symbol.  The writer has the choice to create something new using 
>> Valerie's symbols or can use something previously written by 
>> themselves or another human being.
>> When the writer has made their choice, I consider it rude to fiddle 
>> with the appearance.  Suggestions can be offered based on previous 
>> writings, but nothing should be forced.
>> This is the writer taking part in the design and perfection of the 
>> visual representation.  I respect the writer and Valerie's cold type 
>> vision.
>> To simplify SignWriting's cold type technique, several rules were 
>> made and one truth was uncovered.
>> 1) Each symbol has a general restriction for size and shape
>> 2) Symbols do not change size individually
>> 3) Symbols do not rotate
>> I found out that given a cluster of symbols, I can always determine 
>> the correct visual center.  No matter what symbols the writer used.  
>> No matter where the writer placed the symbols.  A simple algorithm 
>> could find the center.  Very important for sign text layout.
>> This vision has shaped the existing SignPuddle data.
>> I hope some of you share the same vision.
>> -Steve

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