NOTO, as in No Tofu

First of all, I love tofu.

But when you see it on a computer screen, it’s not so nice.

Like those two rows of “tofu-shaped” objects shown below that indicate a missing font:


Tofu used to be a much bigger problem ten years ago, back when fonts are strictly aligned with different character sets and computers shipped with very limited font families. Today, computers and phones ship with system fonts that can natively display a significant number of languages.

Nevertheless, as websites support more and more languages, the need for fully world-ready fonts will only grow.

So it’s nice to see Google investing in creating open-source font faces to support the world’s languages.

This font family is called NOTO (as in no tofu).


A package of all 100+ fonts weighs more than 470MB.

Instead, you might pick and choose which language/script you wish to support:


This post is brought to you by the Multilingual Eye Chart.


Do your web developers know about Globalize?

Screen Shot 2015-04-23 at 4.55.59 PM

Today, the JQuery Foundation has announced availability of Globalize 1.0:

Globalize provides developers with always up-to-date global number formatting and parsing, date and time formatting and parsing, currency formatting, and message formatting. Based on the Unicode Consortium standards and specifications, Globalize uses the Common Locale Data Repository (CLDR), the most extensive and widely-used standard repository of locale data. With Globalize, all developers can quickly reach global markets with confidence that their apps and sites will always have the most accurate and up-to-date locale data available.

I published a book a few years back on an early iteration of Globalize. I’m excited to see  jQuery moving forward with Globalize, as it has improved not only the lives of anyone who must internationalize and localize web apps and websites, but also the experience of web users around the world. Because users benefit from seeing dates and times and currencies displayed as they expect them to be displayed for their respective cultures — and displayed consistently across web applications.

If your developers aren’t aware of Globalize, point them to it today.

Designing a multi-script typeface


An interesting article on the development of a new multi-script font.

To create the font, four designers worked on a script each: Latin, Greek, Cyrillic, and Arabic.

The end result is a font that provides a consistent look and feel across good range of languages.

I like this quote from the lead designer:

To draw a parallel with the world of music, I see ourselves as four musicians who improvised together on a musical theme fixed by one of them – this implies a lot of freedom, but also a lot of effort, listening to the others and building upon their improvisations.”

In fact, the decentralized model is similar in many ways to that of successful web and software globalization projects. You need local-language experts to play an active role early on in the process, while still sharing global goals.