The Sigmund Typeface Utility
August 1, 2001 11:31 AM   Subscribe

The Sigmund Typeface Utility allows you to generate dynamic images of text via a query string. There are options for the font style, color, and kerning. And the best part? Its all open source so it seems like someone could come up with a generator for things like Silkscreen, Mini7 or whatever else one might find useful.
posted by bshort (10 comments total)
of course, people should only do this for type families that are in the public domain...
posted by bshort at 11:36 AM on August 1, 2001

I am not sure that I understand the benefit of this... am I going to have to be tethered to their site to use this typeface? or do I have to do an excessive amount of coding to get it on my site? don't get me wrong, it looks cool.
posted by hotdoughnutsnow at 11:47 AM on August 1, 2001

Odd. They encourage you to use an {img} tag which links to their site (they should also encourage you to use an ALT attribute. Height and Width Images would be nice too. But no hotdough... you don't have to be tied to their site -- you can save the generated image to your site - then do your html that way.
posted by artlung at 11:54 AM on August 1, 2001

There is PHP source right there on the page.. Download it, install it on your websever, you don't need to link any outside servers..

It's really nice simple source too.. It would be annoying, but not too hard to stick other fonts in there..
posted by Leonard at 11:59 AM on August 1, 2001

Actually, I think the idea is you download the source and run it on your development server. Then during development/production you can use it to generate and eaily change all your gif based text without having to open Photoshop/Fireworks etc.

Once everything's been finalized, you save the gifs and use them for the 'real' site.
posted by alan at 12:03 PM on August 1, 2001

I just wanna know: does Unisys know they're doing this? :>

if someone's geek enough to need programmatically generated giftext, they're probably geek enough to build their own PHP script more customized to their needs: height/width, bgcolor, etc.

just a marketing demonstration of PHP prowess. a cool look-what-we-can-do gizmo, with little immediately apparent use to the outside world.
posted by Sapphireblue at 12:05 PM on August 1, 2001

PHP can do this using ANY font installed on the system you are using PHP on. As long as you own the font, there's nothing particularly illegal about it.
posted by lenticular at 12:14 PM on August 1, 2001

im really not attracted to the super tiny "need a magnifying glass to read but thats ok because all the hip designers use it" text. I mean, seriously, WTF?
posted by Satapher at 1:28 PM on August 1, 2001

I thought the same, Satapher, until I got a decent monitor; at 1280x1024, it's quite clear to me.
posted by skyline at 2:06 PM on August 1, 2001

Hello all. I wrote Sigmund. Let me answer some of the questions / concerns raised:

1. The reason it pulls the image from our server is so people without PHP access can use the utility. I wanted to make it easy for everyone to use. If you're not comfortable with that, download the source code and run it off of your own server.

2. Unisys doesn't know about this :) and I plan on changing it to generate PNGs instead of GIFs. NN4.x doesn't support transparent PNGs, so i'm waiting for NN4.x to completely fade out of the market so I can make the change.

3. It is a neat gizmo, yes, but it also has market value. It can be coupled with a database to generate custom text displays. That's really what it is intended for.

4. PHP can do this with any font, but my guess is that it will antialias it. Antialiasing destroys typefaces at this size. As for the legal ramifications, I don't think Adobe would be too kind to us if we started offering their font library via an ASP model like Sigmund. Just because I own the font doesn't mean I can allow the rest of the world to display it on their web sites.

5. Hipness has nothing to do with the small typeface. I created my version of the 5pixel face because the smallest type I could get using truetype or type 1 was 9 point Futura. And even then it was blurry. Sigmund, Silkscreen, and Mini7 all succeed in shaving another 4 pixels off the overall height and creating a very readable typeface. Also, remember that it is better used minimally. I would not advise using these pixel typefaces for paragraph text or anything more than one line.

Thanks for the feedback everyone!
posted by johnjreeve at 2:44 PM on August 1, 2001

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