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4–7 September, 2019

Thursday, 5 September | | Miraikan Hall

Talk | Presented in English

Japanese Text Layout for the Future: Dynamic and Responsive Mojikumi

The role of text in the visual and aesthetic balance in the use of space in Japanese graphic design has been overlooked or misunderstood in the development of modern publishing technologies, especially when it comes to dynamic and responsive layout systems. Specifically, traditional metrics relating to the ideographic em-box are often not fully supported, and so the basis of how space on the layout is calculated diverges from tradition, and makes it difficult to reproduce the same “balance” using modern software. This talk addresses this topic and explains some of the issues with dynamic and responsive layout—namely, that layout algorithms, in shaping layout constraints, currently do not treat empty or negative space as a component equal to other content elements. As a result, the intention of the Japanese graphic designer is lost. The presentation goes over the issues that designers and web developers face—Japanese websites that attempt fine control of the spacing of text elements and the text layout itself are hard-coded to a given dimension, and the text is meticulously styled so that it approximates the precision of print. The problem is that such HTML pages cannot reflow or be re-formed across different-sized screens, and if left up to the browser engines, the spatial balance is jettisoned, resulting in a layout that looks wrong. Designers will have to encode their design intent (the shifting of the spacing of elements in a balanced way) using Japanese font metrics and text measurements, and the layout engines will have to change to support them. Emerging font technologies like variable fonts will have to overcome the issues of supporting vertical text, which have multiple glyph orientations in the same line, and the tools will have to support those features with a reasonable UI.