Edo Smitshuijzen

A typographic matchmaking project for the 16th century: the Civilité of Granjon and the Naskh of Winsoft.

Winsoft is a French company that produces all the specific Arabic ME (Middle East) versions of the Adobe software collection. For some reason Winsoft seems to believe that the Arabic typography never really departed from the Gutenberg era.

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The latest software release of the ME Adobe Indesign has a number of new features for creating variations with their special Naskh font. Effectively mimicking calligraphic splendor of centuries ago. Why on earth does Winsoft (or Adobe) believe that Arabic graphic designers are waiting for text that can exclusively be used in calligraphic manuscript size ? The Naskh typeface that can do magnificent tricks is totally useless for contemporary graphic design needs, such as for newspapers, brochures, branding, or the internet. It is only applicable for very rare occasions where an ancient atmosphere is required or desired.

Why is the idea so persistent in the minds of the people working at Winsoft that the aesthetics from the times of '1001 nights' is typically Arabic. This is a bizarre way of looking at contemporary Arabic culture and assessing its needs. Winsoft even went as far as to invest in a special plugin for Adobe ME InDesign called Tasmeem. This software attempts to reproduce Arabic calligraphy to perfection using a computer keyboard. Originally this plugin was offered for 50.000 US dollars but this price was taken off their website. Apparently Winsoft is now working to make different types of this Arabic DTP Ferrari available, sales prices are still under study.

In Latin typography there is also a small niche that occupies itself with digitising the typographic glories of the past. But this is more like a nostalgic hobby. Not to be taken too seriously. Because nobody would select these typefaces for everyday use. Also no one would ever consider making complicated 'calligraphic engines' to automate Latin calligraphy.

Everything that is advertised as 'typical' for the Arabic calligraphy is less typical than it is often assumed. Using swashes, abundant ligatures and even 'kashidas' to prolong characters is all done in Latin calligraphy as well. Maybe Winsoft should consider to put the Civilité of Granjon as a matching Latin font for their specific Naskh typeface. Both will be capable of shaping in close harmony nice guirlandes of the past.