Free Version of Monotype's Typecast Tool Adds 3,000 Fonts.com Fonts

Thanks to advances in browser support and growing libraries of quality typefaces, the use of web fonts is seeing exponential adoption. But what has been missing is a workflow that reflects the way designers actually work, providing them with the flexibility to test from a library of thousands of fonts throughout a layout, not just on a small sample of type, and explore the use of such things as OpenType variations and paragraph indentation. And why not be able to automatically generate HTML and CSS from such tests to pass on to devs, as well as easily share your prototype designs and even generate a style guide for clients and partners?

Typecast, launched last year, would seem to be able to do all this and more, and provides a clear indicator of how far the use of type on the web has come. The app was initially created by Front, a web strategy and design agency in Northern Ireland, before being acquired in October of 2012 by Monotype for use with its Fonts.com site. The idea is that designers can view, pair and compare web fonts in the browser on full-length text without having to create screenshots, assemble comps or hand-code their CSS. Its range of visual controls is said to give them the freedom to style those typefaces in precise detail and as they design, standards-compliant embed code is produced. Users can thus design a working prototype using the programs simple visual controls and then export production-ready HTML and CSS or share via a URL. It's worth noting that content created with Typecast will work with any browser, but you'll need Chrome or Safari to create projects with it.

Typecast is tightly tied to the Fonts.com offering. Subscriptions begin at $10 per month and include access for up to three users to more than 20,000 web fonts in the Typekit, Fonts.com, Fontdeck, Webtype and Google Web Fonts libraries. But what if you wanted access to the capabilities of Typecast for free? Last year this became possible, thanks to an agreement between Monotype and Google. The free version of Typecast made it possible to experiment with font pairings from the Google Fonts directory, build legible type systems thanks to a wide range of controls, including font size, weight and line spacing, and export design work as production-ready HTML and CSS, or PNG files, to share with others or merge with comps. Compositions could include floats, clears, margins and padding controls, and effects such as background colors, borders and text shadows.

Now this has been extended beyond Google to include 3,000 web fonts from the Fonts.com collection. Which makes the free version much more interesting. Sure, classics like Avenir and Futura aren't included but there's enough to make the free version worth checking out.