The proudly independent Dutch Type Library (dtl), is not only known for the iconic digital typefaces it has been producing and publishing since 1990, but also for its software for professional font production. The illustrious company, which entered the computer-font market in the industry’s very ﬁrst decade, was founded by the renowned type designer, software developer, Research Fellow, and Senior Lecturer Dr. Frank E. Blokland.
In a volatile and constantly changing environment, both technical and commercial, the Dutch Type Library produces fonts in the classic way. This means that ample time is taken to reﬁne and revise the dtl fonts until they are fully matured like a Premier Grand Cru Classé. For example, manual digitization with a lens cursor and tablet is still used to convert analog drawings into digital contours in the ikarus format. The emphasis is therefore not on quantity or a fast production process, but on ultimate reﬁnement and quality control. In some cases, such as dtl Flamande and dtl Fell, this maturing took more than 25 years. However, although the production method is classic, the latest technology, developed at the Dutch Type Library, is applied to create sustainable fonts optimized for today’s and tomorrow’s use.
The dtl collection of exquisite typefaces for graphic-design professionals contains work of world-famous type designers: Chris Brand, Matthew Carter, Stijn Cremers, Gerard Daniëls, Christoffel van Dijck, Nikola Djurek, Andrea Fuchs, François Guyot, Hanna Hakala, Michael Harvey, Erhard Kaiser, Hendrik van den Keere, Jan van Krimpen, Jacques-François Rosart, Lukas Schneider, Elmo van Slingerland, Fred Smeijers, Gerard Unger, Dirk Voskens, and Blokland himself.
Together with their longtime friends and colleagues at the Hamburg (Germany) based company urw –a pioneering font-technology company that has been in business since the early 1970s until it ceased to exist in 2020– dtl’s team of experts jointly developed tools for the (internal) font production for about 25 years.
The history of these tools goes all the way back to the revolutionary ikarus system from more than 40 years ago. Today urw no longer exists as an independent company following the acquisition of its font library by one of the major players in the type business. However, the Dutch Type Library keeps the history alive by actively further developing the relevant fonts tools.
The goal of dtl has always been to make the increasingly complex professional font production as simple as possible to handle, without compromising the quality aspect in any way. Initially, the (batch) font tools were developed exclusively for intensive internal use at dtl and urw, as, for example the video above shows.
Developing font tools at the Dutch Type Library is not only a necessity, but also very interesting and enjoyable. In addition, we consider it a privilege to make our advanced applications, developed for macOS, Windows, and Linux, available to the type community as well.