In an effort to fully understand and possibly explain the concept of "Vertical Rhythm," I recently Googled the term, and found this new nifty little type tool called Typecast. I wasn't too clear what it could do for me, so I signed up for the beta. About a month later, my invite arrived! I could finally be one of the "cool kids," the "Fontrepreneurs" of our time! I didn't really know what to expect from this tool, but I have to say I was pretty impressed! So here's what I discovered:
What is it?
Typecast is a browser-based app that enables web font experimentation right in the browser. It incorporates web fonts from Typekit, Fontdeck, Fonts.com and Google Web Fonts. It's still in Beta, but you can sign up for access at http://beta.typecastapp.com/. Be prepared to wait a few weeks.
Why is it cool?
- It allows for rapid layout of basic font styles. This way, you can preview different fonts, weights, colors, etc. directly in the browser without having to re-upload CSS or refresh the browser constantly.
- It features the most popular fonts in a handy preview list, but "Fontrepreneurs" can also search over thousands of fonts from the popular web font libraries.
- You don't have to pay for the fonts unless you use them on your site, so experimentation is free!
- It writes all the CSS as you go so you can copy/paste what you need.
- The fine-tuning capability of Typecast empowers elegant typography-based designs, all in web fonts.
- The "stage" is set up on a baseline grid that helps keep a nice vertical rhythm.
What does it do?
- It lets you adjust a wide variety of text properties and see the changes real-time. I was really impressed by how fluid the tweaking process is with Typecast. As I'm adjusting the slider, I can see my font get larger-smaller without any waiting or jerkyness.
- It provides a "style guide" for each project, aiding with collaboration among team members.
- It allows you to save, share, and export projects as html/CSS.
- It allows for many columns of layout.
- It lets you choose pixels, ems, or percents as the preferred unit of measurement.
What it doesn't do... yet:
- It doesn't support any elements besides headings, blockquotes, and paragraphs.
- It doesn't let you change background colors behind the the text.
- It doesn't let you change margins left-right between columns. They function more to separate distinct treatments in a project, rather than creating a "layout."
I really enjoyed working with Typecast! The Lifeblue team has already begun playing with it and finding out what the possibilites could be for integrating it into our process. I hope this catches on in a big way, because I think it's one of the tools that will help "save the World from bad design." Try out Typecast today and have fun with your fonts!
By: Lauren Howell, "GPS"