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Transportation Government The Almighty Buck United States

The Feds' Freeway Font Flip-Flop (citylab.com) 182

McGruber writes: Citylab has the news that the U.S. Federal Highway Administration is revoking its 2004 approval of the "Clearview" font for road signs. Clearview was made to improve upon its predecessor, a 1940s font called Highway Gothic. Certain letters appeared to pose visibility problems, especially those with tight interstices (or internal spacing)—namely lowercase e, a, and s. At night, any of these reflective letters might appear to be a lowercase o in the glare of headlights. By opening up these letterforms, and mixing lowercase and uppercase styles, Clearview aimed to improve how these reflective highway signs read.

Now, just 12 years later, the FHWA is reversing itself: "After more than a decade of analysis, we learned—among other things—that Clearview actually compromises the legibility of signs in negative-contrast color orientations, such as those with black letters on white or yellow backgrounds like Speed Limit and Warning signs," said Doug Hecox, a FHWA spokesperson, in an email. The FHWA has not yet provided any research on Clearview that disproves the early claims about the font's benefits. But there is at least one factor that clearly distinguishes it from Highway Gothic: cost. Jurisdictions that adopt Clearview must purchase a standard license for type, a one-time charge of between $175 (for one font) and $795 (for the full 13-font typeface family) and up, depending on the number of workstations.

That doesn't seems like a very good use of tax money, for something that can be nondestructively reused once created.
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The Feds' Freeway Font Flip-Flop

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  • duh (Score:5, Insightful)

    by blackomegax ( 807080 ) on Monday February 01, 2016 @04:12PM (#51416411) Journal
    switch to an open source font.
    • And also use something else than the 74HC75, there has to be better options in 2016.

    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward

      You communist ! Wingdings all the way !

      • Re:duh (Score:5, Funny)

        by Locke2005 ( 849178 ) on Monday February 01, 2016 @04:28PM (#51416521)
        I was going to vote for Comic Sans myself. Somehow, it seems appropriate.
        • That...
          is...
          HILARIOUS!

          • by mrvan ( 973822 )

            HILARIOUS!
            is...
            That...

            FTFY :)

          • Re:duh (Score:4, Interesting)

            by KGIII ( 973947 ) <uninvolved@outlook.com> on Monday February 01, 2016 @08:44PM (#51418169) Journal

            You know... I've actually had serious conversations with serious people about the font used on signs. It is not, technically, my area of expertise but I'm expected to know it, have hired someone familiar with it, or to have a consultant on hand for it. Well no, now I'm expected to be retired...

            While I realize you were joking... How familiar are people with it? How well is its contrast with the various lighting expectations? How much information can be conveyed in the same space?

            Given my druthers, and not being an expert, I'd like to see Helvetica be tested for use. So long as certain highways (namely those that are federally owned and under their authority) meet a minimal criteria, the municipality is allowed to enact most anything it wants. Of course, wide variations would be bad as they would lead to confusion and unfamiliarity.

            For the English language, Helvetica seems to be a good choice. If, on the off chance, you're interested - there's actually a movie by that name. It's a documentary (of course, that's all I watch) and surprisingly interesting and informative. I watched it because I knew a bit about it but it turned out to be much better than one might expect. (A documentary about fonts???)

            I'm also partial to some of the Ariel (or is it Arial) fonts. I'm not sure that they'd make good signage due to their width of the letter body (those crazy bastards have a specific name for all that stuff - including stuff like serifs, kerning, etc) and I'm not sure about Helvetica - I am not an expert. I have hired and consulted with experts and passed their recommendations along. (Usually it's basically, "How the hell should I know and it's not like they're actually going to listen. Go with the default. At least it works.) So, my suggestion is that they look into it. I'd hate to make an authoritative statement when I am not, in fact, an authority.

            In the course of my professional career, I've had many discussions about signs and their fonts. No, I did not recommend the font you hate. That was some other guy or they didn't listen to me. It's never my fault, after all. I did not, however, expect to see it on Slashdot - ever. I didn't even submit this. So, if you have any questions about fonts and signage, I'm sure plenty of people here have an opinion on the matter. Me? I've really only got suggestions. There exist actual experts on this topic. I kind of doubt any of us are. I'm moderately familiar so I'm sure I'll be amused by the contents of the thread.

            • by arth1 ( 260657 )

              Given my druthers, and not being an expert, I'd like to see Helvetica be tested for use.

              Or one of the fonts used in other countries, in which case the testing has already been done.

              • by KGIII ( 973947 )

                So long as their signs are in English, that'd be a good idea. Non-English fonts will not have (necessarily) the same appeal - even if they have English characters.

                I shit you not, there are people who have devoted their entire careers to this. They often have a font portfolio (observation) that they're excited to show you. They have a few that are "going to be a real impact some day." I've gotten drunk with some and even paid for all the drinks.

                Ever want to get to know a new industry? Take a few of the peopl

            • Helvetica is great (have seen it), but has the same shortcomings as the font they're switching back to. Clearview is a font specifically designed to be readable from a greater distance. If you look at the lowercase "e" or "a", what it specifically does is enlarge the holes and gaps so that they are more distinguishable even when out of focus. And when you're right at the limits, distancewise, of your vision, you are better able to distinguish one similar letter from another and read the sign that much so

        • Re:duh (Score:4, Interesting)

          by tepples ( 727027 ) <tepples@gma[ ]com ['il.' in gap]> on Monday February 01, 2016 @08:29PM (#51418097) Homepage Journal

          If you love Comic Sans, or if you hate Comic Sans, have a look at what Comic Sans wanted to be when it grew up: Comic Neue [comicneue.com].

          You should also take a look at the Filmotype Apache/August/Beaver family. It's a "casual serif", which has been digitized under the names URW Apache, Panache Stanley and Sixpack, Cochise, Toledo, and Jester [dafont.com]. Respected businesses use this family for their corporate branding, including ABCmouse Early Learning Academy and Harris Teeter Neighborhood Food and Pharmacy. It balances the bounciness and honesty of a hand-lettering typeface and the form variety of a dyslexia-friendly typeface with the dignity of a serif, and the best part is that it isn't Comic Sans.

          • Re:duh (Score:4, Interesting)

            by UnknownSoldier ( 67820 ) on Monday February 01, 2016 @09:34PM (#51418429)

            The problem is that some of the "uniqueness" / charm of Comic Sans is lost with Comic Neue.

            Whether you think this is a good thing (or bad) thing will depend if you hate (or like) hate Comic Sans, respectively.

            The problem is when you "quantize" the glyph's strokes the font becomes "sterile" and loses that "human touch" or aspect.

            To give an analogy, there is a reason music is NOT _precisely_ played on the beat; a human has some very subtle variation giving it a "organic" feel. Once you quantize everything to _precisely_ 1 / # ms music sounds "robotic", sterile, bland. Even more so with swing.

            I agree with this analysis [designforhackers.com]:

            So, the story of Comic Sans is not that of a really terrible font, but rather of a mediocre font, used incorrectly on a massive scale.

            The problem with all the people hating Comic Sans is that:

            a) they tend to be self-righteous, pretentious font connoisseurs, and
            b) Not realizing "Most People Don't Give a Fuck."

            I'm not defending Comic Sans saying it is a great font -- it isn't. It's kerning sucks.

            But to blinding hate a font without understanding what few (or even one) strengths it has is just plain ignorance.

            That Comic Neue website is not bad, but it really needs to show the context of all three fonts (Comic Sans, Comic Neue Light, and Comic Neue Angular Light), so people can specifically see what is different / changed.

    • Re:duh (Score:5, Informative)

      by innocent_white_lamb ( 151825 ) on Monday February 01, 2016 @04:47PM (#51416677)

      Open Source highway gothic font created by Red Hat.

      http://overpassfont.org/ [overpassfont.org]

      Problem solved.

      Another link: http://www.fontsquirrel.com/fo... [fontsquirrel.com]

      • Having read the article... you did read the article?.. you'd know the government was trying to get away from Highway Gothic.. so logic would say avoid a font "inspired by" Highway Gothic.

      • Open Source highway gothic font created by Red Hat.

        http://overpassfont.org/ [overpassfont.org]

        Problem solved.

        Another link: http://www.fontsquirrel.com/fo... [fontsquirrel.com]

        While highway gothis was more readable than the clearview. This version doesn't help.

        Though if they want to maximize readability, why aren't the using fonts with the little training wheels specially designed to make letters faster to read and easier to recognize in bad reading conditions, what's the name: SERIF fonts!

        It seems to be a global mistake though.

        • by DrJimbo ( 594231 )

          Though if they want to maximize readability, why aren't the using fonts with the little training wheels specially designed to make letters faster to read and easier to recognize in bad reading conditions, what's the name: SERIF fonts!

          For road signs, they don't want to maximize readability, they want to maximize legibility, which is not the same thing. For example see: It's About Legibility [fonts.com]:

          While the argument continues to rage about whether sans serifs are easier to read than serif fonts in text copy, sans serif typefaces, because their letter shapes are simpler, have been proven to be slightly more legible than their serifed cousins.

          I agree that serif fonts are generally more readable than sans-serif fonts. Having to read a book that is entirely sans-serif is a chore. The serifed fonts are usually easier to read because the serifs help guide your eye to scan an entire line of text. But for road signs, it is more important to recognize words than to scan lines. That's why the

          • What if the letter you're trying to recognize is an I or an l?

          • Though if they want to maximize readability, why aren't the using
            fonts with the little training wheels specially designed to make
            letters faster to read and easier to recognize in bad reading
            conditions, what's the name: SERIF fonts!

            For road signs, they don't want to maximize readability, they want
            to maximize legibility, which is not the same thing.

            No, but serif fonts are also more legible. It was previously believed sans-serif were better at this, but new research is proving it wrong. When we can't see a shape clearly we guess details, this is why with a sans-serif fonts, c e a all look like o or s (depending on the person) at a distiance. Add serifs to those shapes, and the breaks in round shape warns the brain that it is not an o.

            • Or, increase the separation of gaps and the size of holes, like Clearview, and you still get the recognition at a distance. The problem with serifs is that they fill in some of the white space that can help separate the letters from each other.

      • That lower case a absolutely sucks for the criteria they are trying to address... but, point taken, do the same for the new style.

        Hell, for $7.95 per jurisdiction, I'll make all the font families for them (payment up front, minimum 1000 jurisdictions).

      • Open Source highway gothic font created by Red Hat.

        In a crowded and eye-searing web page, Red Hat describes Overpass is a web font family "inspired" by Highway Gothic. In truly microscopic type, Red Hat concludes by saying that "Today's enterprise brands all have distinct typographic expressions. In the software arena, Overpass is strongly aligned to [the] Red Hat brand."

        To me, this reads as something less than an unqualified commitment to open source licensing. What matters now, however, is that nowhere does Red Hat endorse the use of Overpass for highwa

      • by AmiMoJo ( 196126 )

        The UK created the Transport [wikipedia.org] font back in the 1950s, and it has since been adopted by many other countries. I'm sure the US would be welcome to use it too.

      • Open Source highway gothic font created by Red Hat.

        http://overpassfont.org/ [overpassfont.org]

        Problem solved.

        Another link: http://www.fontsquirrel.com/fo... [fontsquirrel.com]

        They don't want the problem solved. They want excuses to replace signs everywhere periodically to keep the grease flowing.

        • They're not requiring replacement. So anyone who hates the old font will be waiting as long as possible to replace signs.

      • by Reziac ( 43301 ) *

        Thanks. I was just looking for a nice font of this general sort. Now if I could find it in monospace, which is what I really need for my application... (Liberation Mono is fairly good but not "strong" enough visually.)

        As to TFA, some years ago I noticed that some new Interstate signs had crappy legibility because the font was more tall and narrow than the old font. Lo and behold, finally I know why!

    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by BitZtream ( 692029 )

      Why? For purpose? To save $175? Cause if so your cutting off your nose to spite your ignorant face.

      You do realize the paint on each sign (EACH) probably costs more than that.

      And with the OSS font you get? A shitty font because people who are good at spending the many long hours of work required to make good fonts DONT FUCKING DO IT FOR FREE.

      You guys get all uppity about stupid shit. If the fact that some designer at some company had to buy the font before the could make signs is irrelevant. Force the

      • Re:duh (Score:4, Informative)

        by amicusNYCL ( 1538833 ) on Monday February 01, 2016 @07:03PM (#51417633)

        Why? For purpose? To save $175?

        It's $795 for all of the various sign fonts in the family, and that's assuming you have a single computer where they create signs. If your state has between 86 and 90 computers that can do that, then it's over $10,000. That's obviously not a ton of money when you're talking about government, but it still adds up.

        A shitty font because people who are good at spending the many long hours of work required to make good fonts DONT FUCKING DO IT FOR FREE.

        Overpass [overpassfont.org] isn't a bad font, and there are in fact many skilled people who do in fact donate their time to various things. If you could have your work showcased on road signs all across the country, would you do that for free? These people [delvefonts.com] decided that, yes, they would do it for free, even without a guarantee that it would be used.

        Force the graphics artist to deal with some half assed font package in order to get your OSS font

        Right, like the little-used and poorly-supported TTF format.

        as far as fonts are concerned, OSS is absolute shit.

        Bistream Vera is pretty good, the sans mono version is a great one for programming.

        Cause if so your cutting off you're nose to spite you're ignorant face.

        FTFY

        • It's $795 for all of the various sign fonts in the family, and that's assuming you have a single computer where they create signs. If your state has between 86 and 90 computers that can do that, then it's over $10,000. That's obviously not a ton of money when you're talking about government, but it still adds up.

          Can you give a citation? The summary only directly quotes the article

          Jurisdictions that adopt Clearview must purchase a standard license for type, a one-time charge of between $175 (for one font)

          • by Seq ( 653613 )
            Citation? Click the "Clearview" link in TFA, click "BUY ClearviewHWY", add the 13-font bundle to your cart. Then select how many workstations you're licensing.
            • 1 workstation is $795.
            • 2-5 workstations are $1495
            • ...
            • 86-90 computers are $10270.00
        • by jopsen ( 885607 )
          Signs cost money... and quality stuff with good reflectors that last for decades probably aren't cheap... cost of a font that isn't objectively ugly is hardly a concern.
      • And with the OSS font you get? A shitty font because people who are good at spending the many long hours of work required to make good fonts DONT FUCKING DO IT FOR FREE.

        There are plenty of excellent free fonts, including free versions of highway fonts. People make high quality open source fonts for the same reason they make high quality open source anything: they enjoy it and/or they get paid for it.

        Before you promote something OSS there has to be at least one instance of that type of object that doesn't

      • It's an alternative font. Nobody was required to switch to it in the first place. So this new rule has nothing to do with saving money.

    • or get trump to say we are going to use that font and we are not going to pay for it.

    • The US federal highway spending is about $50B a year. I'm pretty sure that a few $175 font licenses aren't the reason why Clearview has problems.

      If you look at the font images [clearviewhwy.com] it doesn't seem like a very good choice, if you just dropped that in front of me I'd say it was a condensed form of a standard font, which would be hard to read at a distance. Something like DIN 1451 seems like a much better font for this.

  • by seth_hartbecke ( 27500 ) on Monday February 01, 2016 @04:18PM (#51416459) Homepage

    .. and very pro capitalism, etc bla bla.

    But ... common ... how can our Federal Highway Administration go about researching and the setting a standard for a font ... and then be so stupid as to not procure rights to that font and then license them to every other agency/company at no cost?

    As a republican ... this is the kind of thing I expect my government TO do. I know wikipedia says "It was developed by independent researchers with the help of the Texas Transportation Institute and the Pennsylvania Transportation Institute, under the supervision of the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA)," why didn't any of these agencies say "So ... we're going to pay you a huge pile of money ... once ... for this font."

    • Here is my simple answer... If you expect things to happen the way you want AFTER a bad consequence occurs, then you will ALWAYS see it over and over again. Besides, not everyone who has authority could always make the right decision at the time given. However, the CURRENT one is usually being blamed on...

    • by DewDude ( 537374 ) on Monday February 01, 2016 @04:34PM (#51416579)

      why didn't any of these agencies say "So ... we're going to pay you a huge pile of money ... once ... for this font."

      Because spending large piles of money is exactly what Republican's don't want to do; plus, being pro-business, it was in their interests to let some third-party company profit from this mandate. I also don't think it was a required mandate or a standard; if a jurisdiction didn't want to pay for Clearview, they could probably still use Highway Gothic. Clearview was just the other approved font.

      • Because spending large piles of money is exactly what Republican's don't want to do; plus, being pro-business, it was in their interests to let some third-party company profit from this mandate.

        I think you mean spending large piles of money is exactly what Republicans DO WANT, for their true constituency: Business Interests.

        • I think this is part of the reason for the rise of the tea party and their attitudes towards mainstream moderate Republicans. The hypocrisy of the political parties is evident; both parties give out subsidies to their friends but then complain when the other party does the same thing. The Republican party really has not been an example of fiscal prudence despite marketing itself as such. Since we're de-facto a two party system in a country with more than two viewpoints, both parties are an alliance of st

      • by R3d M3rcury ( 871886 ) on Monday February 01, 2016 @05:40PM (#51417025) Journal

        Actually, if you want to play R vs. D...

        In 2004, when this was approved, the President (George W. Bush) was a republican. So, ah ha!

        Of course, in 2004, the Secretary of Transportation (Norman Mineta) was a democrat. So, ah ha!

        In other words, at least in this case, it's kind of silly to play "R vs. D," unless you want to say that "they both do it."

      • Because spending large piles of money is exactly what Republican's don't want to do; plus, being pro-business, it was in their interests to let some third-party company profit from this mandate.

        Government favoritism to specific companies isn't "pro-business", it is, in fact, quite anti-business.

        And although Republicans are also guilty of it, that kind of relationship between government and business is a core part of the ideology of Democrats.

      • why didn't any of these agencies say "So ... we're going to pay you a huge pile of money ... once ... for this font."

        Because spending large piles of money outside of their own pet interests is exactly what Republican's don't want to do; plus, being pro-business, it was in their interests to let some third-party company profit from this mandate. I also don't think it was a required mandate or a standard; if a jurisdiction didn't want to pay for Clearview, they could probably still use Highway Gothic. Clearview was just the other approved font.

        FTFY

        Republicans haven't done anything any better than other politicians when it comes to eradicating public debt.

        And no I'm not a democrat. I dislike all politicians pretty much equally.

    • Re: (Score:2, Flamebait)

      by Cyberax ( 705495 )
      Do you see the word "Texas"? That's your answer. Sharing something for free is definitely some kind soshlism or maybe communism and they don't do that down there.
    • by bobbied ( 2522392 ) on Monday February 01, 2016 @04:51PM (#51416707)

      As a republican too, I can explain why they didn't secure the license for the font they paid to develop.... It's government stupidity silly.

      You see, the government wastes money, and time in abundance while producing garbage because there is no real motivation to be efficient and quick or to fulfill the users' needs built into the system. This is unlike capitalism where being efficient and fast is considered a virtue and if you don't produce what the consumer wants you die.... Well, unless you are "to big to fail" or some group of progressives get the idea they have to bail you out....

      But you knew that anyway....

      Personally, I think that anything like this, fonts, software, data collections that the government pays to get developed should be made available to the general public by default. All contracts should have boilerplate language designed to ensure this. Only things related to national security and defense should be allowed to remain out of the public eye, but even those should be "FREE of license costs" forever.

      • by Captain Splendid ( 673276 ) <<capsplendid> <at> <gmail.com>> on Monday February 01, 2016 @05:35PM (#51416993) Homepage Journal
        and if you don't produce what the consumer wants you die

        Fucking explain DRM then.
        • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

          by Anonymous Coward

          We're not the consumer of DRM schemes.

        • and if you don't produce what the consumer wants you die Fucking explain DRM then.

          Digital Rights Management is not something the customer wants? I don't think you can really say that. I think it IS what the customer wants, given the other possible options.

          Sure, you may not like it, but you put up with it because it gives you the ability to use digital content for a reasonable license fee. If DRM didn't exist, the license fees would be much higher because many would just "share" instead of "buying a license" to get the content. Remember all those "file sharing" services that got run o

        • Fucking explain DRM then.

          20 to 40 million music tracks. 20,000 feature-length films, accessible instantly to subscribers paying about $10-$15 month.

      • by jthill ( 303417 )

        Selective much?

      • by Reziac ( 43301 ) *

        Or just sit someone down with a font editor and reproduce it, like a zillion copycat free fonts do already.

    • This is just another unfunded Federal mandate to force states to squander precious taxpayer money to well-connected interests in BIG FONT.
      • by ncc74656 ( 45571 ) *

        This is just another unfunded Federal mandate

        ...except it wasn't a mandate. According to TFA, 20 states never adopted it. The signs here in Nevada never changed. They also never changed in California (which would have a rather large amount of signage to replace).

    • Because there's a disconnect in the Republican Party at times. There's a conflict between fiscal reponsibility (saving money) versus supporting businesses (promoting the market). So they will on the same day complain about government waste in the morning and then provide huge subsidies to their friends in the afternoon.

      As for open source, many republican and democratic politicians despise it. Too socialist, not enough American jobs created, potentionally developed by enemies of the US, no lobbying gifts

  • Licensing? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Holi ( 250190 ) on Monday February 01, 2016 @04:19PM (#51416467)
    Why is the government licensing a font from a commercial vendor? Wouldn't a more cost effective approach be to have one designed as a work for hire so they own the copyright making it public domahttp://tech.slashdot.org/story/16/02/01/199201/the-feds-freeway-font-flip-flop#in (since the public is paying for it).
    • Re:Licensing? (Score:4, Interesting)

      by Holi ( 250190 ) on Monday February 01, 2016 @04:20PM (#51416475)
      Why is the government licensing a font from a commercial vendor? Wouldn't a more cost effective approach be to have one designed as a work for hire so they own the copyright making it public domain (since the public is paying for it). Re posting since a bunch of crap got added to my previous post.
      • Certain states decided that it had better legibility, due to the research on it, than the freely available highway fonts (A-E). I know of one state that uses the font exclusively, North Dakota. AFAIK this font isn't in wide use.

        Safety is all the matters in this regard, if the commercial font really does have better the standard fonts then it should be used. Yea it would be great if the font is freely available and all that but what matters above all is the legibility. If the font can be read at a greater di

      • by AmiMoJo ( 196126 )

        Because of lobbying by the entertainment industry. They don't want people to get the idea you can pay for any kind of artistic work just once, you have to pay every time it is used or viewed. It's not like employing someone to do a job, these people are artists!

    • by zlives ( 2009072 ) on Monday February 01, 2016 @04:24PM (#51416497)

      government ... cost effective approach ... error cannot compute.... thus all the crap added to your post :)

    • You mean something like the UK did in the middle of last century?

      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/... [wikipedia.org]

      Just remember that the US doesn't have to do what other countries do. Therefore, it follows that they can only do what other countries haven't done.

  • Well... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by squiggleslash ( 241428 ) on Monday February 01, 2016 @04:19PM (#51416469) Homepage Journal

    That doesn't seems like a very good use of tax money, for something that can be nondestructively reused once created.

    True, but it's a relatively small amount of money. It's not completely out of whack with what commercial enterprises pay for non-free fonts. And, to be honest, if someone invested in this project thinking "Hmm, if I invest on research into improving something with a direct affect on road safety and transportation efficiency, I'll make money!" that's... not a bad thing. Beats "Hmm, if I invest in research on blowing people up, the government will give me money!" anyway.

    Copyright isn't a terrible idea, just one that's abused from time to time. The target audience for this font can easily afford the money they're asking for, and it's a worthy product if the font does what it's designed to do. (Whether that's true is a separate issue from "Should we occasionally pay for fonts?")

    • Re:Well... (Score:5, Insightful)

      by vux984 ( 928602 ) on Monday February 01, 2016 @04:29PM (#51416529)

      It's not completely out of whack with what commercial enterprises pay for non-free fonts

      Except it is totally out of what. Normal fonts are created speculatively and then licensed to interested parties.

      This font was practically a work for hire in everything but name, I wouldn't be surprised to hear they were actually paid to create it up front, and then now we still have to license it back, for a font that's standardized accross a nationwide highway network... the purpose for which it was originally commissioned.

      WORST case it should be licensed once for the nations highways. Period. If the designer wants to go out and try and license it to Mexico too.. that's fine, but the USA should only have to pay once to use it on any signage anywhere it wants. Forever.

    • by AuMatar ( 183847 )

      If a private enterprise paid to create it, you're totally in the right. If the government paid for someone to do the research and make it, it ought to be government property and the profit from it should have been on the research.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Those prices are down right cheap. some fonts are $1000/per use one billboard is a use, one street sign is a use. But cumulatively it adds up to a whole lot of money for tax payers.

    So lets agree there are two dimensions to this argument whether the Clearview font is superior which is the bulk of the article and whether the flame bait trailing paragraph means that we need to fix the economics.

    Designing a font is a lot more work than you think if your goal is something legible unlike say Comic Sans. Designers

  • by PPH ( 736903 ) on Monday February 01, 2016 @04:44PM (#51416647)

    ... Caltrans is sticking with its time-tested custom font [sfcitizen.com]

  • That doesn't seems like a very good use of tax money, for something that can be nondestructively reused once created.

    You must be new here. Par for the course. "But without the government, who would build the roads???"

  • by AndyKron ( 937105 ) on Monday February 01, 2016 @05:07PM (#51416831)
    Per fucking workstation. And this rip-off has been going on for how many years?
    • Try pricing out any Professional tool or Software. AutoCAD is $1,680/year, Adobe CC is $700 / year. It's not like every desktop in the government is going to have this software.

      • by dj245 ( 732906 )

        Try pricing out any Professional tool or Software. AutoCAD is $1,680/year, Adobe CC is $700 / year. It's not like every desktop in the government is going to have this software.

        Those professional software tools you mention both have periodic updates and customer support. Those things have ongoing costs. A font is designed once and most are never updated. Updating a font and keeping the same name probably would cause big problems! I realize that a professional-level font takes time to create, but once it is done, it is done. Installing a font is trivial and software problems with a properly designed font are rare. Ongoing licensing costs are just greed and provide no value.

        • Those professional software tools you mention both have periodic updates and customer support. Those things have ongoing costs.

          And you used to be able to buy those with a one-time purchase, too. Don't give font-makers any ideas. I want to buy a new version of Photoshop, but I can't without a perpetual subscription. I'm stuck on CS 5.5 forever unless I give in on my principles.

  • by westlake ( 615356 ) on Monday February 01, 2016 @05:12PM (#51416853)

    Jurisdictions that adopt Clearview must purchase a standard license for type, a one-time charge of between $175 (for one font) and $795 (for the full 13-font typeface family) and up, depending on the number of workstations.

    That doesn't seems like a very good use of tax money, for something that can be nondestructively reused once created.

    To install a sign:

    All costs listed are for a complete sign assembly in place, including all legend, fabricating, transportation, labor, hardware, and painting of posts.

    Sign panels:

    Regulatory/Warning/Marker: $15 to 18 / sq.ft.
    Large Guide Signs: $20 to 25 / sq.ft.
    Electronic Variable Message Sign: $50,000 to $150,000 each.

    Sign Posts:

    U-Channel: $125 to $200 each
    Square Tube (Telespar): $10 to $15 per foot
    Large Steel Breakaway Posts: $15 to $30 per foot
    Cantilever Sign: $15,000 to $20,000 each
    Sign Bridge: $30,000 to $60,000 each

    Foundations:

    Square Tube: $150 - $250 each
    Breakaway Post: $250 to $750 each
    Cantilever / Bridge: $6,000 - $7,000 each

    STOP signs are considered among the most expensive signs. Due to their critical importance in intersection safety, they must be replaced as soon as is reasonably feasible - even if that means driving 300+ miles round trip at 3 AM, at $1.00 per mile for the truck, and $25-$40 per hour overtime for each sign crewperson. Taking this into account, a simple $75 STOP sign suddenly becomes a $500+ item.

    Engineering costs with respect to signing are more difficult to define. If a 3 month study results in installation of only 3 signs, it may not be equitable to charge the whole egineering cost to those installations. Normally, engineering costs are treated separately, but if there is a need to take them into account, then a rule of thumb estimate is engineering cost = 10% to 15% of construction cost.

    Costs of Traffic Signs [trafficsign.us]

  • Fickle font fiddlers forever face fiddling fastidiously for fantastically fine font fits.

  • ... "tight interstices".

    Yeah, I know what it really means, but ouch. Just ouch.

  • the antlers open up to the front, ya dummies. fix the signs. or go back to print.

    • It may be that your state modifies the Standard Highway Signs. I just took a gander at sign W11-3 [dot.gov], and not only does it look reasonable, but the antlers open to the front.
  • Clearview must purchase a standard license for type, a one-time charge of between $175 (for one font) and $795 (for the full 13-font typeface family) and up, depending on the number of workstations.

    Use a stand-in font that gets re-rendered by a central computer to generate the results image and preview images before printing signs.

  • by XNormal ( 8617 ) on Tuesday February 02, 2016 @04:17AM (#51419729) Homepage

    The font was designed for reflective white on green. The legibility studies are invalid for black on yellow.

    I guess the font designers should have foreseen this and designed a family of two fonts called "negative" and "positive", but I cannot really fault them for failing to fully appreciate the magnitude of human incompetence.

    • It also didn't help that state agencies and contractors couldn't design a sign with Clearview properly, enough so that they created a FAQ with a gallery of what NOT to do. They didn't have to drive too far as Maryland was by far one of the biggest offenders: http://mutcd.fhwa.dot.gov/resources/clearviewdesignfaqs/ [dot.gov]. This decision to end the "intern approval" of Clearview has been coming for almost 2 years, so this isn't exactly news. It didn't seem to stop states from going wild with sign replacements though
  • Sounds like a job for COMIC SANS!

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