Petr van Blokland


Interviewed by

Demian Conrad

<Petr van Blokland>3 (b. 1956) works together with designer Claudia Mens and others, depending on the type of project. He graduated in 1980 cum laude with a degree in Graphic Design from KABK/The Hague and went on to study industrial design in Delft. His main focus is on typography, type design, designing the design process, programming and design theory. His current work includes international projects related to typography and type. He is a cofounder of, and for which a range of software design tools have been developed. He also created the type foundry TYPETR, and has lectured at various academies at both under- and postgraduate levels. Van Blokland has received the Charles Peignot Award for typography from AtypI in 1988 and was a board member of the organization for a number of years.

<GG>3 Who is
<Petr van Blokland>

You’ll find a man who is at once calm, charismatic and, dare we say it, rather Zen, sitting down at a desk with a few items placed atop a low table that would leave an ordinary person with a hernia. The items sit at the edge of a computer that might fit in the hand of a three-year-old child… But there is no child to be found. Indeed, the man, company and brand sits at a vast desk in the middle of a corporate suite, surrounded by the world’s fastest computers. It has to be seen to be believed. So who is Petr Van Blokland? Perhaps the biggest mystery of the modern car industry (where more than one industry has been known as the “myth of the perfect race car”) is the role of tire development and, more importantly, the tire designer. The best, as it always had to be believed, were the “invisible heroes” at Michelin. The fact that a company of around 24000 (!) people with a rather large footprint does the tire testing and development for all major brands on a day to day basis certainly has its own mystique. And what did we discover? Quite a lot, including the fact that it all starts and ends with one man. At the risk of giving the game away, Van Blokland has played a key role in the development of most of the major car brands on the world’s roads. All of which makes him possibly the world’s most famous non-driving automotive engineer, let alone tire engineer. When you think about it, it shouldn’t have been possible. Just look at the cars these tire designers have come from: Citroen DS, Renault 4XV, Fiat Uno, Peugeot 106, Mitsubishi Largo, Suzuki Esteem, Porsche 944 and 924 and Mercedes-Benz S-Class. But somehow they made it and were the first to the finish line: from the first tests of the original Formula 1 series to winning Pikes Peak 24 times. Even when that competition went elsewhere the tires stayed around. In fact, almost all of these cars were developed on these tires, most of which ended up as road cars, before being upgraded to other brands. And, of course, these tires continued to win everywhere, including the GT4 class championship of GT4 in Europe where it proved that there wasn’t anything these man-made creations could not do… Petr Van Blokland The tire man behind the brand. Born January 13th, 1973 in The Hague Netherlands.

D.C.Welcome, Petr van Blokland, I’m very pleased to have you here. I would like to start by asking you to introduce yourself and your practice.

P.v.B.Thank you for inviting me. My name is Petr van Blokland and I do a lot of things in my practice: type design, typography, coding and graphic design. I started out in the late 1970s. I studied graphic design at the Royal Academy of the Hague [KABK] from 1975 to 1980. After I graduated, I did internships at Studio Dumbar and Total Design Amsterdam. Since 1981, I have been running a studio with my wife, Claudia Mens, who is an interior and environmental designer. We each manage our own side of the studio, with a lot of overlap. In the 1980s, I studied industrial design in Delft, but I never completed the program. I’m not an engineer, but it helped a lot in terms of my conception of design as an industrial process and not so much as an art form. I try to cover the entire spectrum between graphic design and engineering, and I have been programming since 1980. I built my own computer five years before the first Macintosh came out.

P.v.B.Over twenty-five years, we employed between three to five people in our studio, mostly working on corporate design projects. We must have had about twenty-five people who worked with us since the studio opened. Over the last decade, we have changed direction: now we collaborate remotely with designers and former students from all over the world on a variety of projects.

D.C.Speaking of students, you are also a teacher, right? Can you discuss that a bit?

P.v.B.I have been teaching Graphic Design at the undergraduate level at KABK since 1986, and also teach through the TypeMedia master’s program in type design. I also taught in the Graphic Design master’s program at the St. Joost School of Art and Design in Breda for about ten years, but I quit in 2017. I still do some workshops there during the academic year. We replaced our teaching positions with an online study program that we also started in 2017 called DesignDesign.Space.

P.v.B.The students who come from all over the world to do a master’s program in the Netherlands are the lucky ones. They are privileged. There are many people who would study but cannot manage the finances required, or who cannot obtain a visa. Or they simply cannot leave a studio they have built up and take a sabbatical.

P.v.B.The idea of DesignDesign.Space is to offer a chance to do master’s level studies without accreditation. Since there is no diploma, it’s very flexible. We can adapt the curriculum to any length or subject that people want to do. It has been working nicely so far, not to the extent of being able to make a living out of it, but it helps.

P.v.B.We organize Latin type design classes for Chinese type designers, hold workshops on variable fonts, courses on toolmaking, the design process, or, for example, the relationship between type design for print and online, and so on. We are currently organizing a 72-hour TypeLab marathon, hosting online lectures, workshops, demos and experiments with type and design. It’s a very diverse group which also provides an informal way for professionals and students in the field to connect.

D.C.That’s a wide range of activities, how do you articulate your work around these very different practices?

P.v.B.Nowadays, most of my days are filled with type design. I was lucky enough to be published in the Adobe library: that means my fonts were automatically distributed among 20 million Adobe software users. This helps, financially speaking. In the past, you were paid for a type license and people still think that’s the way the business model has to be shaped. The reality looks more like the Spotify model, where people download or activate fonts from a library, and the number of times your font is activated generates some kind of income.

P.v.B.To get back to your question, in general I’m interested in shaping the design process through teaching graphic and type design, as well as how to write software, coding and programming. The common denominator is that I don’t make any distinctions between these things. Sketches and lines of code are all stored in the same way in my sketchbooks. I can see lines of code as an image. I can manipulate them in my head, run them and visualize their outcome. Sometimes I’m in the middle of coding when I realize that I actually already sketched the idea. The transition from sketching to coding is a blurry one, and, during the design process, I constantly switch between the two.

P.v.B.I never sketch out an idea one day, and then code it for the next few weeks—the process is a constant to-and-fro. In the model we have with Claudia, we state that if a design problem cannot be solved within a day, there is no way it will be solved with three more months of work.

PDGD-ITW-PetrVanBlokland, Image 2
Detail, RoboFont plug-in. Allows you to design and proof typeface kerning as it is drawn, Code and Screen, Petr van Blokland.

P.v.B.In the performing arts, you can tell upon hearing them if someone has just learned to play an instrument. You don’t have to be an educated musician yourself in order to recognize that. The problem with graphic design is that the moment of presentation is not the moment of creation. This makes it difficult to tell whether a poster was done in a day or three months—you need training in order to see the difference.

PDGD-ITW-PetrVanBlokland, Image 2
The Design Assistant tool expands the line into the contour of the letter. The TYPETR Responder gives the designer control over pen shape and size, Code and Screen, Petr van Blokland.

P.v.B.What we try to do with students, and also in our own practice, is to scale long-term projects back into a performing arts timescale. We give students a pencil and a piece of paper and say: “You have one hour to create a corporate identity, go ahead and I’ll just sit here and keep watching.” They often reply that they cannot work like that.

P.v.B.However, what is different with acting on stage or running a marathon is the fact it is also a mental thing. Why does your design get better if I’m not watching you for the three weeks it takes you to make it? We’re trying to understand what’s at stake here, and help people overcome it. We have conducted over a hundred Design Games over the years. We put around fifty people in one space, divided between design studios on one side, and customers on the other. In this competition, the design studios are set a design problem to solve in one hour. They may ask the clients questions, but clients only get to answer with “yes” or “no”.

P.v.B.Many of the participants think it’s impossible to work that way, but that would mean that all the projects should be equally terrible at the end of the hour, but that is never the case. Some people figure that it’s a matter of process, and they structure their way of working within these limitations, and quickly adapt to them.

P.v.B.That’s what happens with many students when they work on their graduation project for around two and a half months. They think about the subject for two months, without designing, and then all the design work has to be done in the last couple of weeks. However, the subject is never judged, so splitting your work that way is a waste of time. Our method forces the students to do a whole thesis project in one hour, or perhaps one day.

P.v.B.This comparison with the performing arts shows that you can’t perform a concert at your best if you only start to work on it two days before. Why is it that some graphic designers think they can do things this way? We might ask why we have the luxury of not being watched while designing, even though it’s part of the game in other art forms to perform in front of audiences?

P.v.B.To return to the design process, I’m not interested in knowing whether a project concerns typography, type design or programming. Students often say they do one part, and then let other specialists work out the rest, but I think that’s like making a sketch of a car, and then giving it to someone else to build. The shape flows from what should be within the car, they are not separate things. Therefore, I try not to separate the things that I do, and consider each project as a whole, both conceptually and technically.

P.v.B.There are also a whole range of tools. Some like the major players, such as InDesign . They are the common denominators, what everybody wants to have. It’s like a crowded beach—everybody is doing the same thing with the same tools. If you want to escape that, you have to create your own island. Nobody is going to build that island for you.

P.v.B.For instance, someone comes to you to design their PhD thesis: 200 pages with complex images, graphics, etc. You are doing your basic layout by pasting content from a Word document into InDesign , and you want to link the images and words in the text with arrows. If anything changes in the text on page three, you have to redo all your arrows manually. A lot of potential design choices that might potentially be part of the design process are not even considered because they are too tedious to do manually in InDesign , while five lines of code could get the job done. Programming has now become part of the toolkit. This means that a whole different set of design solutions can come from that source.

P.v.B.In terms of project management, if you work on a prototype showing most of the design and technical solutions, and the final product needs to be ten times faster, or a more reliable version, there is no clear boundary between designing and producing. You slowly go from one aspect to the other. How should you define your role, and know when to hand the project over? If you want to do all the design work, it would mean having to do all the production work as well. My way of dealing with it is to write a program that does the production, because I’m not going to spend 80% of my time doing that.

P.v.B.My definition of design is something that you create that otherwise wouldn’t be there, something that you can do over and over and improve each time. Programming is a tool that is part of the design process. If you do it over and over again, you get better at it. This also applies to sports, music, raising children, writing stories, making movies, drawing typefaces, and so on.

P.v.B.The programming process is a feedback loop. Until you run out of time, you have a chance to make another version and learn from it. Potentially, you can streamline that, so that the next time you can start at a halfway point, thus saving some time. This explains why a lot of research being done on feedback loops originates in totally disparate areas, such as organizations, electronic circuitry, and artificial intelligence.

P.v.B.One time, for my literature study group at the Royal Academy, I selected a text on agents, a robot in a maze, for instance, which is a common science experiment. You have an independent decision-making object, it could be a human, but could also be a robot or anything else. How does a robot find its way through a maze? It can store previous errors. It can make decisions and weigh options before actually deciding on a given direction. I took the text and replaced “agents” with “designers,” and “choices” with “sketches.” I presented this to my colleagues, and asked the question “Does this seem like a definition of the design process?” It seemed very reasonable to them. Simply by replacing those words, you are talking about a different process, one very similar to the agents—it all boils down to feedback loops.

P.v.B.Another definition of design would be detail management. In my opinion, a lot of designers who start sketching on InDesign start right away with the production process. InDesign is a production tool, not a design tool. If InDesign were a design tool, you could show it two pages of a book, and it would work out the other fifty pages. That’s what a design tool would do. Photoshop was never made for graphic designers to work with. It’s simply that there’s nothing better, and many designers accept its limitations, but in essence these are production tools, made for printers. Consequently, we need to make our own tools. I hardly ever use InDesign , because by the time I know what I’m doing, I have already written a program that does it.

D.C.Can you explain a bit more about how you got into programming, and the kind of tools you use?

P.v.B.I use Python as a programming language. It was created by Guido van Rossum, the brother of Just van Rossum, who is a good friend of mine. Just and I were looking for a source code to connect to the old Fontographer . I started out with some other languages, but then Python emerged as a really good solution. From that point on, connected to Python , Fontographer became RoboFog . It became the scripting language for many type design tools, like Fontlab and Glyphs , for example.

P.v.B.Python is a pretty good language for teaching coding to designers, alongside Java Script, which is very widespread, but limited to web environments. It’s not a complete language: you can’t write an application in Java Script.

P.v.B.Then Just made DrawBot , which is an educational environment created around Python ; there are graphic functions that are lacking in standard Python . Later on, Frederik Berlaen, the founder of RoboFont , took it over. Frederik and Just both maintain DrawBot as an open-source program.

P.v.B.DrawBot is great: there is a lot of coding going on, and it has the power of pencil and paper, but you have to know what you’re doing. It’s a nice scribbling equivalent using code. You can easily make animated GIFs of mathematical equations. That’s great, it’s a good means of introduction to coding and algorithm s. Still, we intentionally made DrawBot with no built-in graphic design knowledge. It’s like designing a magazine with just a pencil and paper: it might be possible but would take a lot of time. I don’t know many graphic designers who use it in their daily practice, because the disparity with common design software is huge. About five years ago we asked ourselves: “How can we bridge that gap?” The world is really divided between web and print, but that’s an artificial boundary. I should be able to save a given document as a website, as a ready-to-print PDF, or as an animated GIF. Why isn’t there a software that can do that? We started to think about that huge gap, and it has become the open-source project PageBot . We’re still beta-testing, but we get more and more assignments we can work on with it. Also, if someone buys a PageBot template, I give them a typeface for free. The moment you begin to build bridges between usages and medias, it opens up a lot of possibilities for designers.

P.v.B.There are currently three pillars on which our work is based. The first is DesignDesign.Space, which covers education. We don’t hold back there and we have put several assignments online. Students come to us for paid courses if they need specific knowledge with feedback and routine discipline to finish their project.

P.v.B.The two remaining pillars are coding and type design. We can switch between them, we can mix the three or offer some parts for free. If someone pays for a workshop, I give them my tools or some examples of typefaces with which they can work. If people buy my typefaces, I show them how I would use them, or I’ll comment on their usage. Again, it’s a very flexible way of working.

D.C.Can you tell us more about PageBot , this tool that should bridge the gap between DrawBot and graphic design?

P.v.B.Sure. We first presented it four years ago at ATypI Montreal. It was originally set up as a library on top of DrawBot , filling in all kinds of design knowledge standards. It’s all downloadable on Git Hub.

P.v.B.Following that lecture, people showed interest, one of them being Google , but they said it had to run on other systems besides Apple .

P.v.B.Since then, we have been trying to do two things with PageBot . The first is to make as many classes as we can. The core element in PageBot can be put on a page, it has a generic behavior; a position, a size, a background color, etc. All the elements inside it inherit from the top element class. However, on lower levels, elements can be very specialized. These intelligent elements know how to solve internal design problems: you make them once, and afterwards you don’t have to deal with those decisions again. You close the trunk on them, unless something gets broken, or needs to be fixed.

P.v.B.The second thing we began doing with PageBot was adding what we call contexts. For example, PageBot on a Macintosh is only one context. Step by step, we’re creating a context that runs on Linux , with the functions we already have on Mac. Still, we’re moving relatively slowly, it’s an unfunded project. It’s funny because the big companies are not willing to invest in open-source projects. They might be willing to provide some funding, but if it’s open-source, they say “thank you, we’ll take it from here.” Getting funded directly for open-source projects is a challenge, but the good thing is that we remain totally in control, and I don’t know any equivalent to that.

P.v.B.We’re getting there, elements are becoming more and more sophisticated, they fit together in a Tetris-like way. They know where they can best fit. “What is the lowest position on the page where I can still be as wide as I can be?”, things like that. That’s how designers want to think; they don’t want to think in terms of coordinates and percentages, and that’s what InDesign forced us to do. I want to be able to say “here are four elements, put them on one page and show me something.”

P.v.B.We are also planning a PageBot application. Feedback has indicated that users miss the interactive aspect of a software application. Personally, I can do without it. I can quickly write a piece of code that is more efficient than starting up Illustrator, modifying a file, saving, then printing it. Yet, for many people that’s the limit because they are so used to a graphical interface.

PDGD-ITW-PetrVanBlokland, Image 2
A sample of DrawBot/Python code that generates a newspaper page with cover illustrations from the open-source PageBot library, Petr van Blokland.

D.C.How do you see creative coding shaping the way designers work in the future, keeping in mind Adobe ’s monopoly, open-source software and emerging online design generators?

P.v.B.I think the reason a lot of Adobe products still exist, especially in the design field, is because the people using these softwares were educated to mainly work on print-based media. However, if you look at volumes of information, 95% of it is now being communicated digitally, and I still see very little crossover between those two worlds.

P.v.B.The graphic designer who is working with Creative Cloud, and then using InDesign or Photoshop to make documents that go to a so-called developer who does the HTML and CSS , thinks they made a website, but it’s just styling.

P.v.B.Traditionally, customers ask a designer to do a website. The graphic designer comes up with mockups, Photoshop documents, etc. The whole thing is then put on the developer’s table, and they start from scratch, because there is no information about responsive or conditional behaviors, etc. The developer basically does all the work, and clients now realize that. So next time, they start with the developer, who can make a functional website.

P.v.B.At that point, the developer asks the designer for colors and typefaces, keeping the designer out of the loop. In the past, the designer was designing the whole process, but now they are just visually adjusting something that was made without them.

P.v.B.If you buy sixty pretty good WordPress templates for a hundred dollars, you don’t need to pay thousands for a designer. Graphic designers have to get themselves back in the process, where they’re part of the team again and dialoguing with developers, let’s say every ten minutes, if you still want to draw a line between design and development.

P.v.B.This linear thinking, with people only being part of a production chain, assigned to a particular function, where the creative works on preliminary sketches, polishes them, passes them on to a developer and then steps out of the project, with a developer who only then starts to work on their own, is the opposite of what design should be like.

P.v.B.To answer your question about the future, I think that the designers who will survive are ones who are capable of putting themselves in a different state of mind. Of course, there should be talent, and taste, and one should have fun doing things. The hardest aspect to inculcate is entrepreneurship: is a design assignment a cost or an investment?

P.v.B.You have to find a way to have fun designing something today; you don’t want to go through thousands of hours of boring exercises before you can actually master something. Learning to play an instrument should be fun every day, that is the way to survive the first years and get really good at something, better than someone else.

P.v.B.The hardest thing is selecting people and motivating them. You can’t save them all. There are people who never want to be entrepreneurs, they just want to be told what to do.

P.v.B.Even if someone’s job is boring, the challenge is to lure them into allowing themselves half an hour a day to do something completely different, to risk death. Making people dare to go to the museum although they have a really important presentation the next day for which they’re running out of time, that’s the most challenging part, but also the most rewarding concept I have to pass on to my students. Designing the ability to make sandboxes within very boring assignments is really fun. I think the people who do that best can never be replaced by artificial intelligence or clients who think they can do it themselves.

D.C.That’s great Petr. Thank you so much for this amazing conversation. You replied to all of my questions. That was very generous.

P.v.B.You’re welcome.



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Adobe Inc., originally called Adobe Systems Incorporated, is an American multinational computer software company. Incorporated in Delaware and head-quartered in San Jose, California, it has historically specialized in software for the creation and publication of a wide range of content, including graphics, photography, illustration, animation, multimedia/video, motion pictures and print. Adobe was founded in December 1982 by John Warnock and Charles Geschke. Flagship products include: Photoshop image editing software, Adobe Illustrator, a vector-based illustration software, Adobe Acrobat Reader and the Portable Document Format (PDF), along with a range of tools primarily for audiovisual content creation, editing and publishing.

Adobe After Effects

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Adobe Illustrator

Adobe Illustrator is a vector graphics editor and design program developed and marketed by Adobe Inc. Originally designed for the Apple Macintosh, development of Adobe Illustrator began in 1985.

Adobe InDesign

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Adobe Shockwave

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Commodore VC-20

The Commodore VIC-20 / or VC-20 (known as the VC-20 in Germany and the VIC-1001 in Japan) is an 8-bit home computer that was sold by Commodore Business Machines. The VIC-20 was announced in 1980, roughly three years after Commodore’s first personal computer, the PET. The VIC-20 was the first computer of any description to sell one million units.


A database is an organized collection of structured information, or data, typically stored electronically in a computer system. A database is usually controlled by a database management system (DBMS). Together, the data and the DBMS, along with the applications that are associated with them, are referred to as a database system, often shortened to just database. Data within the most common types of databases in operation today is typically modeled in rows and columns in a series of tables to make processing and data querying efficient. The data can then be easily accessed, managed, modified, updated, controlled, and organized. Most databases use structured query language (SQL) for writing and querying data.


DrawBot is a powerful, free application for MacOSX that invites you to write simple Python scripts to generate two-dimensional graphics. The built-in graphics primitives support rectangles, ovals, (Bézier) paths, polygons, text objects and transparency. DrawBot is an ideal tool for teaching the basics of programming. Students get colorful graphic treats while becoming familiar with variables, conditional statements, functions, etc. Results can be saved in a selection of different file formats, including high resolution, scaleable PDF, SVG, movie, PNG, JPEG and TIFF. DrawBot is written in Python. The DrawBot project started in 2003 as a program named DesignRobots, written for a Python workshop at the TypoTechnica conference. Since then the application evolved into a Cocoa application with a powerful API and image export functionality. It has proven itself as a key part of the curriculum at the Royal Academy in The Hague, and is developed by Just van Rossum, Erik van Blokland and Frederik Berlaen.

Dual Licensing

Using dual licensing, licensors can distribute software to licensees under a proprietary model as well as an open-source model, allowing the licensor to simultaneously leverage the advantages of both types of licenses.


EPUB is an e-book file format that uses the “.epub” file extension. The term is short for electronic publication and is supported by many e-readers, and compatible software is available for most smartphones, tablets, and computers. The EPUB format is implemented as an archive file consisting of XHTML files carrying the content, along with images and other supporting files. EPUB is the most widely supported vendor-independent XML-based e-book format. EPUB is a technical standard published by the International Digital Publishing Forum and supported by almost all hardware readers.


An e-reader, also called an e-book reader or e-book device, is a mobile electronic device that is designed primarily for the purpose of reading digital e-books and periodicals. Any device that can display text on a screen may act as an e-reader; however, specialized e-reader devices may optimize portability, readability, and battery life for this purpose. Their main advantages over printed books are portability. An e-reader is capable of holding thousands of books while weighing less than one book. Many e-readers use the Internet through Wi-Fi and the built-in software can provide a link to a digital library or an e-book retailer, allowing the user to buy, borrow, and receive digital e-books.


Adobe Flash is a multimedia software platform used for production of animations, rich web applications, desktop applications, mobile apps, mobile games, and embedded web browser video players. Flash displays text, vector graphics, and raster graphics to provide animations, video games, and applications. It allowed streaming of audio and video, and can capture mouse, keyboard, microphone, and camera input. Flash was initially used to create fully interactive websites, but this approach was phased out with the introduction of HTML5. Instead, Flash found a niche as the dominant platform for online multimedia content, particularly for browser games. Due to numerous security flaws, the use of Flash declined as Adobe transitioned to the Adobe Air platform. The Flash Player was deprecated in 2017 and officially discontinued at the end of 2020.


Fontographer, developed by James R. Von Ehr for the Mac and released in January 1986, was the first commercially available Bézier curve editing software for a personal computer. High quality fonts in PostScript format could be developed for a fraction of the cost of other existing methods, leading to the democratization of type design. For the first time, numerous self-taught type designers without substantial capital investment could produce fonts for professional use. Fontographer 2.0 was released eight months later, in the fall of 1986. In 1989, Fontographer 3.0 was released, featuring an auto-trace tool and automatic generation of hints for PostScript printer fonts.

For Loop

In computer science, a for-loop (or simply for loop) is a control flow statement for specifying iteration, which allows code to be executed repeatedly. A for-loop has two parts: a header specifying the iteration, and a body which is executed once per iteration. The header often declares an explicit loop counter or loop variable, which allows the body to know which iteration is being executed. For-loops are typically used when the number of iterations is known before entering the loop. For-loops can be thought of as a shorthand for while-loops, which increment and test a loop variable.


Fortran is a general-purpose, compiled imperative programming language that is especially suited to numeric computation and scientific computing. It was originally developed by John Backus and IBM in the 1950s for scientific and engineering applications, and subsequently came to dominate scientific computing. It has been in use for over six decades in computationally intensive areas such as numerical weather prediction, finite element analysis, computational fluid dynamics, geophysics, computational physics, crystallography and computational chemistry.

Generative Adversarial Network (GAN)

A generative adversarial network is a class of machine learning frameworks. Two neural networks contest with each other in a game (in the form of a zero-sum game, where one agent’s gain is another agent’s loss). Given a training set, this technique learns to generate new data with the same statistics as the training set. For example, a GAN trained on photographs can generate new photographs that look at least superficially authentic to human observers, having many realistic characteristics.


Git is a software that tracks changes in any set of files. It is generally used for coordinating work among programmers who are collaboratively developing source code during software development. Its goals include speed, data integrity, and support for distributed, non-linear workflows (thousands of parallel branches running on different systems). Git was created by Linus Torvalds in 2005 for development of the Linux kernel, with other kernel developers contributing to its initial development. Since 2005, Junio Hamano has been the core maintainer. As with most other distributed version control systems, and unlike most client-server systems, every Git directory on every computer is a full-fledged repository with complete history and full version-tracking abilities, independent of network access or a central server. Git is free and open-source software distributed under GNU General Public License Version 2.


GitHub, Inc. is a provider of Internet hosting for software development and version control using Git. It offers the distributed version control and source code management (SCM) functionality of Git, plus its own features. It provides access control and several collaboration features such as bug tracking, feature requests, task management, continuous integration and wikis for every project. Headquartered in California, it has been a subsidiary of Microsoft since 2018. GitHub offers its basic services free of charge. Its more advanced professional and enterprise services are commercial. Free GitHub accounts are commonly used to host open-source projects.


GitLab is a web-based DevOps lifecycle tool that provides a Git repository manager providing wiki, issue-tracking and continuous integration and deployment pipeline features, using an open-source license, developed by GitLab Inc. The open source software project was created by Ukrainian developers Dmitriy Zaporozhets and Valery Sizov. GitLab follows an open-core development model where the core functionality is released under an open-source (MIT) license while the additional functionality is under a proprietary license.


Glyphs is a Mac font editor that puts you in control, enabling you to quickly draw high-precision vectors, efficiently reuse shapes, and easily manage any number of letters, figures and symbols. Glyphs is a project of type designers and software developers Georg Seifert and Rainer Erich Scheichelbauer.


Google LLC is an American multinational technology company that specializes in Internet-related services and products, which include online advertising technologies, a search engine, cloud computing, software, and hardware. It is considered one of the big four technology companies along with Amazon, Facebook, and Apple. Google was founded in September 1998 by Larry Page and Sergey Brin while they were Ph.D. students at Stanford University in California.

Google Docs

Google Docs is an online word processor included as part of the free, web-based Google Docs Editors suite offered by Google. Google Docs is accessible via an Internet browser as a web-based application and is also available as a mobile app on Android and iOS and as a desktop application on Google’s Chrome OS. Google Docs allows users to create and edit documents online while collaborating with other users in real-time. Edits are tracked by user with a revision history presenting changes. An editor’s position is highlighted with an editor-specific color and cursor and a permissions system regulates what users can do.

Google Sheets

Google Sheets is a spreadsheet program included as part of the free, web-based Google Docs Editors suite offered by Google. The app allows users to create and edit files online while collaborating with other users in real-time. Edits are tracked by user with a revision history presenting changes.


HyperText Markup Language, better known as HTML, is the standard markup language for documents designed to be displayed in a web browser. It can be supported by technologies such as Cascading Style Sheets (CSS) and scripting languages such as JavaScript. Web browsers receive HTML documents from a web server or from local storage and render the documents into multimedia web pages. HTML describes the structure of a web page semantically and originally included cues for the appearance of the document. HTML can embed programs written in a scripting language such as JavaScript, which affects the behavior and content of web pages. Inclusion of CSS defines the look and layout of content. In 1980, physicist Tim Berners-Lee, a contractor at CERN, proposed and prototyped ENQUIRE, a system for CERN researchers to use and share documents. In 1989, Berners-Lee wrote a memo proposing an Internet-based hypertext system. Berners-Lee specified HTML and wrote the browser and server software in late 1990.


HyperCard is a software application and development kit for Apple Macintosh and Apple IIGS computers. It is among the first successful hypermedia systems predating the World Wide Web. HyperCard combines a flat-file database with a graphical, flexible, user-modifiable interface. HyperCard includes a built-in programming language called HyperTalk for manipulating data and the user interface. HyperCard is based on the concept of a “stack” of virtual “cards”. Each card contains a set of interactive objects, including text fields, check boxes, buttons, and similar common graphical user interface (GUI) elements. Users browse the stack by navigating from card to card, using built-in navigation features, a powerful search mechanism, or through user-created scripts. HyperCard was originally released in 1987 and was included free with all new Macintosh computers. It was withdrawn from sale in March 2004, having received its final update in 1998 upon the return of Steve Jobs to Apple. HyperCard runs in the Classic environment, but was not ported to Mac OS X.


HyperTalk is a discontinued highlevel, procedural programming language created in 1987 by Dan Winkler and used in conjunction with Apple Computer’s HyperCard hypermedia program by Bill Atkinson. Because the main target audience of HyperTalk was beginning programmers, HyperTalk programmers were usually called “authors” and the process of writing programs was known as “scripting”. HyperTalk scripts resembled written English and used a logical structure similar to that of the Pascal programming language.


Java is a high-level, class-based, object-oriented programming language that is designed to have as few implementation dependencies as possible. It is a general-purpose programming language intended to let application developers write once, run anywhere (WORA), meaning that compiled Java code can run on all platforms that support Java without the need for recompilation. The syntax of Java is similar to C and C++, but has fewer low-level facilities than either of them. The Java runtime provides dynamic capabilities (such as reflection and runtime code modification) that are typically not available in traditional compiled languages. As of 2019, Java was one of the most popular programming languages in use according to GitHub, particularly for client-server web applications, with a reported nine million developers.

JavaScript (JS)

JavaScript is a lightweight, interpreted, object-oriented language with first-class functions, and is best known as a scripting language for Web pages, but it’s used in many non-browser environments as well. It is a prototype-based, multi-paradigm scripting language that is dynamic, and supports object-oriented, imperative, and functional programming styles. JavaScript runs on the client side of the web, which can be used to design/program how the web pages behave on the occurrence of an event. The basic syntax is intentionally similar to both Java and C++ to reduce the number of new concepts required to learn the language.


Kinect is a line of motion-sensing input devices produced by Microsoft and first released in 2010. The technology includes a set of hardware originally developed by PrimeSense, incorporating RGB cameras, infrared projectors and detectors that map depth through either structured light or time of flight calculations, and a microphone array, along with software and artificial intelligence from Microsoft to allow the device to perform real-time gesture recognition, speech recognition and body skeletal detection. This enables Kinect to be used as a hands-free natural user interface device to interact with a computer system.

Kinetic Type

Kinetic typography—the technical name for “moving text” or “motion typography”—is an animation technique mixing motion and text to express ideas using video animation.


LaTeX, pronounced “Lah-tech” or “Lay-tech,” is a high-quality typesetting system; it includes features designed for the production medium-to-large technical or scientific documents but it can be used for almost any form of publishing. LaTeX is available as free software.

Library (computing)

In computer science, a library is a collection of non-volatile resources used by computer programs, often for software development. These may include configuration data, documentation, help data, message templates, pre-written code and subroutines, classes, values or type specifications. A library is also a collection of implementations of behavior, written in terms of a language, that has a well-defined interface by which the behavior is invoked. Library code is organized in such a way that it can be used by multiple programs that have no connection to each other, while code that is part of a program is organized to be used only within that one program. The value of a library lies in the reuse of standardized program elements. When a program invokes a library, it gains the behavior implemented inside that library without having to implement that behavior itself. Libraries encourage the sharing of code in a modular fashion and ease the distribution of the code.


Lingo is a verbose object-oriented scripting language developed by John H. Thompson for use in Adobe Director (formerly Macromedia Director). Lingo is used to develop desktop application software, interactive kiosks, CD-ROMs and Adobe Shockwave content. Lingo is the primary programming language on the Adobe Shockwave platform, which dominated the interactive multimedia product market during the 1990s.


The Linux kernel is a free and open-source, monolithic, modular, multitasking, Unix-like operating system kernel. It was conceived and created in 1991 by Linus Torvalds for his i386-based PC, and it was soon adopted as the kernel for the GNU operating system, which was created as a free replacement for UNIX. Since then, it has spawned a large number of operating system distributions, commonly also called Linux. Linux is deployed on a wide variety of computing systems, such as embedded devices, mobile devices (including its use in the Android operating system), personal computers, servers, mainframes, and supercomputers.

MIT Media Lab

The MIT Media Lab promotes an interdisciplinary research culture that brings together diverse areas of interest and inquiry. Unique among other laboratories at MIT, the Media Lab comprises both a broad research agenda and a graduate degree program in Media Arts and Sciences. Faculty, students, and researchers work together on hundreds of projects across disciplines as diverse as social robotics, physical and cognitive prostheses, new models and tools for learning, community bioengineering, and models for sustainable cities. Art, science, design, and technology build and play off one another in an environment designed for collaboration and inspiration.

Machine Learning

Machine learning is an application of artificial intelligence (AI) that provides systems the ability to automatically learn and improve from experience without being explicitly programmed. Machine learning focuses on the development of computer programs that can access data and use it to learn for themselves. The process of learning begins with observations or data, such as examples, direct experience, or instruction, in order to look for patterns in data and make better decisions in the future based on the examples that we provide. The primary aim is to allow the computers learn automatically without human intervention or assistance and adjust actions accordingly.


The Macintosh (generally referred to as a Mac since 1998) is a family of personal computers designed, manufactured, and sold by Apple Inc. (originally Apple Computer, Inc.) since January 1984. The original Macintosh is the first successful mass-market all-in-one desktop personal computer to have featured a graphical user interface, built-in screen, and mouse. Apple sold the Macintosh alongside its popular Apple II, Apple IIGS, Apple III, and Apple Lisa families of computers until the other models were discontinued in the 1990s.

Macromedia Director

Adobe Director (formerly Macromedia Director) was a multimedia application authoring platform created by Macromedia and managed by Adobe Systems until its discontinuation in 2017. Director was the primary time-based editor on the Adobe Shockwave platform, which dominated the interactive multimedia product space during the 1990s. Originally designed for creating animation sequences, the addition of a scripting language called Lingo made Director a popular choice for creating CD-ROMs, stand-alone kiosks and internet video game content during the 1990s.

Material Design

Material Design is a design language developed by Google in 2014. Expanding on the “cards” that debuted in Google Now, Material Design uses more grid-based layouts, responsive animations and transitions, padding, and depth effects such as lighting and shadows.


Max, also known as Max/MSP/Jitter, is a visual programming language for music and multimedia developed and maintained by San Francisco-based software company Cycling ’74. Over its more than thirty-year history, it has been used by composers, performers, software designers, researchers, and artists to create recordings, performances, and installations. The Max program is modular, with most routines existing as shared libraries. An application programming interface (API) allows third-party development of new routines (named external objects). Thus, Max has a large user base of programmers unaffiliated with Cycling ’74 who enhance the software with commercial and non-commercial extensions to the program.


Metafont is a description language used to define raster fonts. It is also the name of the interpreter that executes Metafont code, generating the bitmap fonts that can be embedded into PostScript. Metafont was devised by Donald Knuth as a companion to his TeX typesetting system.


Microsoft Corporation is an American multinational technology corporation which produces computer software, consumer electronics, personal computers, and related services. Its best known software products are the Microsoft Windows line of operating systems, the Microsoft Office suite, and the Internet Explorer and Edge web browsers. Its flagship hardware products are the Xbox video game consoles and the Microsoft Surface lineup of touch-screen personal computers.Microsoft was founded by Bill Gates and Paul Allen on April 4, 1975, to develop and sell BASIC interpreters for the Altair 8800. It rose to dominate the personal computer operating system market with MS-DOS in the mid-1980s, followed by Microsoft Windows.


Node.js is an open-source, cross-platform, back-end JavaScript runtime environment that runs on the V8 engine and executes JavaScript code outside a web browser. Node.js lets developers use JavaScript to write command line tools and for server-side scripting—running scripts server-side to produce dynamic web page content before the page is sent to the user’s web browser. Consequently, Node.js represents a “JavaScript everywhere” paradigm, unifying web-application development around a single programming language, rather than using different languages for server-side and client-side scripts.

Open Source

Open-source software is software with source code that anyone can inspect, modify, and enhance. The term originated in the context of software development to designate a specific approach to creating computer programs. Today, however, the term “open source” designates a broader set of values. Open source projects, products, or initiatives embrace and celebrate the principles of open exchange, collaborative participation, rapid prototyping, transparency, meritocracy, and community-oriented development. Open-source licenses affect the way people can use, study, modify, and distribute software. In general, open-source licenses grant computer users permission to use open-source software for any purpose they wish. Some open-source licenses—sometimes referred to as “copyleft” licenses—stipulate that anyone who releases a modified open-source program must also release the source code for that program alongside it. Moreover, some open-source licenses stipulate that anyone who alters and shares a program with others must also share that program’s source code without charging a licensing fee for it.


OpenFrameworks is an open source C++ toolkit for creative coding, designed to assist the creative process by providing a simple and intuitive framework for experimentation. The code is written to be massively cross-compatible. OpenFrameworks supports five operating systems (Windows, OSX, Linux, iOS, Android) and four IDEs (XCode, Code::Blocks, and Visual Studio and Eclipse). OpenFrameworks is distributed under the MIT License. This gives everyone the freedom to use openFrameworks in any context: commercial or non-commercial, public or private, open or closed source. While many openFrameworks users give their work back to the community in a similarly free way, there is no obligation to contribute. OpenFrameworks is actively developed by Zach Lieberman, Theodore Watson, and Arturo Castro, with help from the OpenFrameworks community.


P5.js is a JavaScript library for creative coding created by Lauren Lee McCarthy in 2013. Its purpose is to make coding accessible and inclusive for artists, designers, educators and beginners. P5.js is free and open-source. To use the metaphor of a sketch, p5.js has a full set of drawing functionalities. However, one is not limited to a drawing canvas—you can visualize your whole browser page as a sketch pad, including HTML5 objects for text, input, video, webcam, and sound. P5.js is currently led/run?/maintained? by Qianqian Ye and Evelyn Masso.


p5.js’ collaborative live-coding VJ environment.


PHP is a general-purpose scripting language geared towards web development. It was created by Danish-Canadian programmer Rasmus Lerdorf in 1994. PHP originally stood for Personal Home Page, but it now stands for the recursive initialism PHP: Hypertext Preprocessor. PHP code is usually processed on a web server by a PHP interpreter implemented as a module, a daemon or as a Common Gateway Interface (CGI) executable. On a web server, the result of the interpreted and executed PHP code – which may be any type of data, such as generated HTML or binary image data – would form the whole or part of an HTTP response.


PageBot® is a scriptable page layout, vector graphics and typography environment that enables designers to create high quality documents in various print-ready and web-based formats. It is available as a Python library with multiplatform support based on Flat as well as a Mac OS X extension that uses DrawBot. The core library, tutorials and basic examples for PageBot are available under the MIT Open-Source license. PageBot is initiated and developed by Buro, Petr van Blokland and Claudia Mens.


Paged.js is a free and open source JavaScript library that paginates content in the browser to create PDF output from any HTML content. This means you can design works for print (e.g. books) using HTML and CSS.


Paper.js is an open-source vector graphics scripting framework that runs on top of the HTML5 Canvas. It offers a clean Scene Graph / Document Object Model and a lot of powerful functionality to create and work with vector graphics and Bézier curves, all neatly wrapped up in a well designed, consistent and clean programming interface. Paper.js is developed by Jürg Lehni & Jonathan Puckey, and distributed under the permissive MIT License.

Portable Document Format (PDF)

Portable Document Format (PDF), is a file format developed by Adobe in 1993 to present documents, including text formatting and images, in a manner independent of application software, hardware, and operating systems. Based on the PostScript language, each PDF file encapsulates a complete description of a fixed-layout flat document, including the text, fonts, vector graphics, raster images and other information needed to display it. PDF files may contain a variety of content besides flat text and graphics, including logical structuring elements, interactive elements such as annotations and form-fields, layers, rich media (including video content), three-dimensional objects, and various other data formats.


PostScript is a page description language (PDL) that describes a page’s text and graphical content. It can be used to define the appearance of graphics and text for both screen and print. The language was developed by Adobe in 1984 and has since gone through many revisions and updates. Before PostScript was introduced, publishing systems relied on proprietary typesetting systems, which often caused incompatibilities between computers and printing systems. Adobe PostScript makes it possible to produce high-quality page content that can include text, images, and line art in a standard format compatible with multiple devices. PostScript (.PS) files will print out in the exact same way from any PostScript compatible printer. They can also be opened using Adobe Acrobat and will look consistently the same on Macintosh and Windows platforms. The evolution of PostScript led to the development of Adobe Acrobat, which creates PDF documents.


ProcessWire is a free and open-source content management system (CMS) and framework (CMF) written in the PHP programming language. ProcessWire is built around an API with usage and naming conventions similar to the JavaScript framework jQuery. The stated goal behind the API is to provide the level of accessibility and control to pages in a website that jQuery provides to the DOM. Content is managed either via the API or the web-based admin control panel. ProcessWire is largely used for development of websites, web applications, services, content feeds and related applications.


Processing is a flexible software sketchbook and a language for learning how to code within the context of the visual arts. Since 2001, Processing has promoted software literacy within the visual arts and visual literacy within technology. There are tens of thousands of students, artists, designers, researchers, and hobbyists who use Processing for learning and prototyping. Processing was initiated in Spring 2001 by Ben Fry and Casey Reas. At the time, Fry was a PhD candidate at the MIT Media Laboratory and Reas was an Associate Professor at the Interaction Design Institute Ivrea (IDII). Processing began as a personal initiative and it was developed over nights and weekends through 2003. MIT indirectly funded Processing through Fry’s graduate stipend and IDII indirectly funded Processing through Reas’s salary. Due to his research agreement with MIT, all code written by Fry during this time is the intellectual property of MIT.


Python is an interpreted, object-oriented, high-level programming language with dynamic semantics. Its high-level built-in data structures, combined with dynamic typing and dynamic binding, make it very attractive for Rapid Application Development, as well as for use as a scripting or glue language to connect existing components together. Python’s simple, easy-to-learn syntax emphasizes readability and therefore reduces the cost of program maintenance. Python supports modules and packages, which encourages program modularity and code reuse. The Python interpreter and the extensive standard library are available in source or binary form without charge for all major platforms, and can be freely distributed. Python was conceived in the late 1980s by Guido van Rossum at Centrum Wiskunde & Informatica (CWI) in the Netherlands as a successor to the ABC programming language, and it was first released in 1991 as Python 0.9.0. Python 2.0 was released in 2000. It introduced new features, such as list comprehensions and a garbage collection system using reference counting. Python 3.0 was released in 2008 and was a major revision of the language that is not completely backward-compatible.


RAWGraphs is an open source data visualization framework built with the goal of making the visual representation of complex data easy for everyone. Primarily conceived as a tool for designers and vis geeks, RAWGraphs aims at providing a missing link between spreadsheet applications (e.g. Microsoft Excel, Apple Numbers, OpenRefine) and vector graphics editors (e.g. Adobe Illustrator, Inkscape, Sketch). The project, led and maintained by the DensityDesign Research Lab (Politecnico di Milano) was released publicly in 2013.


React (also known as React.js or ReactJS) is a free and open-source front-end JavaScript library for building user interfaces or UI components. It is maintained by Facebook and a community of individual developers and companies. React can be used as a base in the development of single-page or mobile applications.


Just van Rossum, Erik van Blokland and Tal Leming developed RoboFab, a Pythonic API to FontLab’s native objects. RoboFab was heavily inspired by RoboFog and their APIs are very similar. A simple toolkit for creating UIs in Python, DialogKit, was also created. All together, this allowed designers to port their old RoboFog scripts to RoboFab. The RoboFab package was distributed freely under an open-source license and worked in both Windows and Mac versions of FontLab. It had a pretty website with very complete documentation and a colorful font object map. RoboFab became popular among font makers and helped them create useful tools to get work done.


RoboFog is a Python-powered version of Fontographer produced by Petr van Blokland in the early 1990s. With Just van Rossum’s help, Van Blokland managed to compile Fontographer with a Python interpreter, and built an API so that the program became scriptable. RoboFog was very successful within its niche market. It included a small toolkit for creating custom UIs in pure Python. Users have a lot of fun with its features, and used it to build tools which were very useful for their workflows.


Written from scratch in Python with scalability in mind, RoboFont is a fully featured font editor with all the tools required for drawing typefaces. It provides full scripting access to objects and interface and a platform for building your own tools and extensions.

Scalable Vector Graphics (SVG)

Scalable Vector Graphics (SVG) is an XML-based markup language for describing two-dimensional based vector graphics. It is a text-based, open Web standard for describing images that can be rendered cleanly at any size without loss of quality and is designed specifically to work well with other web standards including CSS, DOM, JavaScript, and SMIL. In essence, SVG is to graphics what HTML is to text. SVG images and their related behaviors are defined in XML text files, which means they can be searched, indexed, scripted, and compressed. Additionally, this means they can be created and edited with any text editor or with drawing software. SVG has been developed by the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) since 1999.


Scriptographer is a scripting plug-in for Adobe Illustrator. It enables the user to extend Illustrator’s functionality through the use of the JavaScript language. Scriptographer allows the creation of mouse-controlled drawing tools, effects that modify existing graphics and scripts that create new ones.


Sketchbook (formerly StudioPaint, Autodesk SketchBook), is a raster graphics software app intended for expressive drawing and concept sketching. The software was first developed by Alias Systems Corporation as StudioPaint, before being acquired by Autodesk and then being spun out into an independent company, Sketchbook, Inc. Originally developed as commercial software, it evolved into a subscription model before eventually being made freeware for personal use.

Turbo Pascal

Turbo Pascal is a dialect of the Pascal programming language which was sold by Borland International during the 1980s and 1990s for use with the MS-DOS and later Microsoft Windows operating systems. A few versions (1.0 and 1.1) were also released for Apple’s System 6 and System 7. It provided an Integrated Development Environment or IDE, which combined editor, program compiler and execution environments for developing, debugging, and compiling Pascal source code.

Turtle Drawing Robot

The concept can be traced back to William Grey Walter’s work in robotics in the 1940s which investigated complex behaviors in simple systems. Turtle robots are generally slow-moving with tight turning radiuses and can trace a design that shows their behavior over time. They make excellent teaching aides because their programmed output can be seen visually.

Type Foundry

A type foundry is a company that designs and distributes typefaces. Before digital type design, type foundries manufactured and sold metal and wood typefaces for hand typesetting, and matrices for line-casting machines like the Linotype and Monotype, for letterpress printers. Today’s digital type foundries distribute typefaces created by type designers, who may either be freelancers, or employed by the foundry. Type foundries may also provide custom type design services for clients.


Unity is a cross-platform game engine developed by Unity Technologies, first announced and released in June 2005 by Apple as a Mac OS X exclusive game engine. The engine has since been gradually extended to support a variety of desktop, mobile, console and virtual reality platforms. It is particularly popular for iOS and Android mobile game development. The engine can be used to create three-dimensional (3D) and two-dimensional (2D) games, as well as interactive simulations.

User Experience (UX)

User experience (UX) refers to the way a user interacts with and experiences a product, system or service. It includes a person’s perceptions of utility, ease of use, and efficiency.

User Interface (UI)

User interface (UI) design is the design of interfaces for machines and software, such as computers, mobile devices and other electronic devices, with a focus on maximizing usability for the user.

Variable Font

A variable font is a font file that is able to store a continuous range of design variants. An entire typeface (font family) can be stored in such a file, with an infinite number of fonts, styles and widths available to be sampled. The variable font technology originated in Apple’s TrueType GX font variations. The technology was adapted to OpenType as OpenType variable fonts (OTVF) in version 1.8 of the OpenType specification. The technology was announced by Adobe, Apple, Google, and Microsoft in September 2016.

Virtual Reality (VR)

Virtual reality is a simulated experience that can be similar to or completely different from the real world. Applications of virtual reality include entertainment (e.g. video games), education (e.g. medical or military training) and business (e.g. virtual meetings).

Web Open Font Format (WOFF)

The Web Open Font Format is a font format for use in web pages. WOFF files are OpenType or TrueType fonts with format-specific compression applied and additional XML metadata added. The primary goals are to distinguish font files intended for use as web fonts from font files intended for use in desktop applications via local installation, and to reduce web-font latency when fonts are transferred from a server to a client over a network connection. The first draft of WOFF 1 was published in 2009 by Jonathan Kew, Tal Leming, and Erik van Blokland. Following the submission of WOFF to the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) by the Mozilla Foundation, Opera Software and Microsoft in April 2010, the W3C commented that it expected WOFF to soon become the “single, interoperable [font] format” supported by all browsers. The W3C published WOFF as a working draft in July 2010. The final draft was published as a W3C Recommendation on 13 December 2012.


Web-to-Print, also referred to as Web2Print, W2P or Remote Publishing, does not just have one general definition. Many different processes, systems and software fall under this umbrella term. Web-to-Print combines the traditional way of producing print materials, as well as all other processes that take place online, like the creation and publishing process for example. All the following processes are part of Web-to-Print, from the editing of simple templates, uploading and generating print materials to database publishing.


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Detail, RoboFont plug-in. Allows you to design and proof typeface kerning as it is drawn, Code and Screen, Petr van Blokland.
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The Design Assistant tool expands the line into the contour of the letter. The TYPETR Responder gives the designer control over pen shape and size, Code and Screen, Petr van Blokland.
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A sample of DrawBot/Python code that generates a newspaper page with cover illustrations from the open-source PageBot library, Petr van Blokland.

pageHandler Debug
page took 0.037490844726562ms to render