Modern Font Testing tool for Indic Typefaces

Universal Thirst

Universal Thirst is a type foundry based out of India and Iceland. They create typefaces with a specific focus on South East Asian and Indic scripts. They reached out to Miranj with a particularly interesting problem:

Typefaces have to undergo a whole host of engineering and design tests as part of their QA and production process. This testing pipeline is fairly well understood for the world of Latin and European scripts, with sufficient tooling to fit into the existing workflows of type designers. However, this was not as true for typefaces that weren’t popular in the global west — Indic scripts, South Asian scripts, and the like. Additionally, some of the existing tools were lacking support for modern font specs like variable fonts, or were cumbersome to use, or both.

Together, we decided to address this problem by creating a tool that was built ground-up for Indian and South Asian scripts, ease-of-use, and fitting into font designers existing workflows. The end result was something that is:

  • Browser based — no installation needed, works offline, preserves state.
  • Secure and private — no font or tool usage data ever leaves your browser.
  • Supports Variable fonts — different axes, named instances, the whole gamut.
  • Testing & evaluation focused.
  • Multi-script aware — script coverage detection, configurable unicode range groupings, multi-script specimen strings, etc.
  • For South Asian typefaces — tests for ligatures, conjuncts, half-forms, localised forms.
  • Adaptable — typographic details are fully customisable outside the code, including specimen strings, test controls, default values, etc.
  • Shareable — entire state of the tool (optionally including the fonts) can be exported for others to re-create the tests at their end.

This was a particularly interesting project for Miranj because it is quite different from the CMS-backed content-heavy sites we typically work on. We planned, architected, and engineered the entire tool in-house using Svelte and OpenType.js. The visual designs for the user interface were deftly handled by Paul Sturm at Universal Thirst.

We had the opportunity to dive head-first into the world of JavaScript-heavy, client-side rendered web applications, and incorporate tech for offline support, file handling, UI tooling, font-rendering, OpenType features, variable font features, service workers, state management, and so much more. We also presented the tool for the first time at the TypeLab segment of Typographics 2021, and were glad at the opportunity to marry our love for typography, design, and engineering in this project.