One of the first things we were shown at the initial Adobe Typography Customer Advisory Board meeting in New York was an early prototype for the Glyphs panel in Photoshop. This feature was quickly identified as one of the priorities, as users had been clamouring for it for a long time. Basically it is the same panel users have been accustomed to in Illustrator and InDesign since over a decade.
The Glyphs panel gives a visual overview of the entire character set in any active font. It is indispensable for contemporary OpenType fonts as they can have several hundreds, some even thousands of characters. Only a fraction can be accessed through the keyboard – even when using the option and shift key in all the possible permutations not even 200 different characters can be input with key strokes.
All these formerly inaccessible glyphs can now be selected with a simple – well, double – click of the mouse. To facilitate locating specific glyphs a drop-down menu allows the user to only show specific subsets of the available glyphs – for example Discretionary Ligatures, or Superscripts & Subscripts, or Cyrillic, or Math Symbols. Variant shapes of certain characters like small caps, swash characters, contextual alternates and so on (if available) can be found under the little triangular arrow at the bottom right of the relevant glyph box.
Sadly the Photoshop development team couldn’t yet include the possibility to arrange the panel by Glyph ID versus Unicode sorting order, nor are there any other options for making custom subsets. To those who argue these options are available in InDesign: one mustn’t forget all Creative Cloud apps originated from different people and code. Achieving consistency throughout all of them is a tad more complicated than simply flipping a switch. Stephen Nielson, Senior Product Manager for Photoshop, confirmed this is on the list; they just didn’t get to it for this release. It will be included with the many other improvements that are coming.
Of course the Glyphs panel is but a stopgap solution, the digital equivalent of the type case of old, meaning type users have to adopt the working method of Gutenberg’s time over half a millennium ago. Computers should be able to do better than that and offer a smarter way to wrangle feature-rich OpenType fonts. This is exactly what we are addressing now with the Customer Advisory Board. The Glyphs panel is but the first step. I cannot wait to see the other improvements of the typographic interface being developed and implemented.
Header image | Complete character set of Bookmania Trademark attribution notice Quixo is a trademark of Monotype GmbH and may be registered in certain jurisdictions. FF is a trademark of Monotype GmbH registered in the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office and may be registered in certain other jurisdictions.