Proposal: Rename "preferred" family to "typographic" family

Sairus Patel sppatel at
Thu Nov 24 02:22:47 CET 2011

[I'm sending this to both the OT and OFF lists, per the specifications' editors' guidelines.]

=== Background

OT has a concept of "preferred" family name originally intended to be distinguished from the 4-style family name. The term "preferred" was used presumably because such a family could contain an arbitrary number of faces. However, the term "preferred" is less than optimal, because:
1. There is a valid modern usage for the 4-style family name: it's how OT expresses bold and italic style linking (along with a couple of style bits). It's not necessarily inferior to the "preferred" family name, it just has a different usage.
2. There is now (since OT v1.5) a third kind of family name in OT: the WWS family name. WPF uses this name. Clearly WPF does not prefer the "preferred" family name, and has good reasons for doing so.
I propose we change the word "preferred" to "typographic" in name IDs 16 and 17, with a "formerly known as 'preferred'" parenthesis.

While I was writing up this proposal, I noticed that name ID 16 says: "This ID is only present if it is different from ID 1." If "is only present" means "must be present only" then if name ID 16 is the same as name ID 1, the font can be considered to be badly made. That seems unnecessarily harsh for what should be simply a font size optimization. It makes more sense to say something like "If this ID is absent, then name ID 1 is considered to be the typographic family name" since that's in fact that intent of the current vague wording. Thoughts?

=== Proposal { my comments are in curly brackets }

{ In [OFF sec. 5.2.6]: }

1. { Replace the definitions of name IDs 16 and 17 with the following (if anyone wants to propose actually defining what "typographic family" means, feel free): }

 16    Typographic Family name: The typographic family grouping doesn't impose any constraints on the number of faces within it, in contrast with the 4-style family grouping (ID 1), which is present both for historical reasons and to express style linking groups. If name ID 16 is absent, then name ID 1 is considered to be the typographic family name. (In earlier versions of the specification, name ID 16 was known as "Preferred Family".)

17     Typographic Subfamily name: This allows font designers to specify a subfamily name within the typographic family grouping. This string must be unique within a particular typographic family. If it is absent, then name ID 2 is considered to be the typographic subfamily name. (In earlier versions of the specification, name ID 17 was known as "Preferred Subfamily".)

2. { In the examples at the end of the 'name' table, replace "16. Preferred Family" by "16. Typographic Family" and "17. Preferred Subfamily" by "17. Typographic Subfamily". }

3. { In the 'size' feature specification [OFF sec 6.4.3], replace the 4 instances of the word "Preferred" with "Typographic". }


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