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Supporting FontStruct: Introducing FS Patrons

News | | March 4th, 2021

Dear FontStructors,

FontStruct – our website, our modular font editor – has always been free to use, and FontStruct will remain free to use for everyone.

Thanks to our generous sponsors, past and present (thank you Glyphs App!), and to our advertisers, we have secure funding to keep the bricks flowing through 2021 and beyond.

But, as this blog post hopes to explain, we have reached a point where we need to look at how the project supports itself financially, in order to keep moving forward.

Today, to try and address our funding challenge, we’re introducing a new micro-sponsorship scheme called “FS Patrons”.

By contributing a small sum (5€ / month, or 55€ annually) you can become what we’re calling an “FS Patron”.

Sold already?! You can subscribe here. Unsure? Read on …

The benefits of being an FS Patron

As an FS Patron, aside from revelling in the happy knowledge that you are directly supporting the FontStruct, you will receive a few tangible and guaranteed benefits:

  • No adverts
  • No nag-screens (We are introducing these for certain FontStruct pages. They will remind you about FS Patrons. You will notice them soon).
  • Optionally, an initimable badge of honour for your avatar.

We also plan to reserve some new features exclusively for Patrons.

For example, from today, we will be offering new download settings, including the option of OpenType CFF downloads, for Patrons only (you can read more about this exciting development in a separate blog post).

As time goes on, and as additional new features are added, we hope that exclusive features will be opened up to the rest of the community. In this way, “FS Patrons” is intended to function as a kind of early-access/preview programme. You may be familiar with this kind of model if you use “Patreon” – where creators release material exclusively and early to their patrons, before a subsequent public release.

Why does FontStruct need FS Patrons?

Staff Pick Starfish

Asterias Fontstructi commonly known as “Staff pick stars”, pictured in their natural environment. Considered a delicacy by FontStructors, they are in fact a common species. While easy to find, they can prove perilous for staff to gather. Their brittle, razor-sharp points, and their preference for the slipperiest of rock pools necessitates the wearing of thick gloves and expensive footwear. Best harvested shortly after high-tide. Photo by Brian Yurasits

FontStruct is busy all year-round, 24/7, with FontStructors from all around the globe: from school and college students to budding amateur typographers and established designers.

Browsing through the amazing archive of modular typography that’s accumulated in the gallery is a daily joy. We are boundlessly proud of everything that the FontStruct community has achieved over the last 12+ years.

We have welcomed over 1.5 million registered users to the site, and there are over 1.8 million FontStructions great and small adorning the database. That’s a total of almost 50 million glyphs!

– These are some quite big numbers – A great crowd of people, and a great heap of data to administer and care for.

For the FontStruct staff there are always support mails waiting for an answer, servers to maintain and content to moderate. We have hosting and CDN bills to pay. We have bugs to fix.

In an ideal world, we would not only busy ourselves with maintenance and support. We would also spend time designing, developing and delivering new features, improving our users’ experience, writing new blog posts, updating our documentation, running competitions and investing time in moderating site content. We are doing all these things – but, because of our very limited resources, we can only do so slowly and patchily.

Pixel bricks are not a natural product. Mixed according to a secret recipe and baked each night in industrial trays, they need to cool to room temperature before being fed into through the precision cutting machines. Photo by Andrew Moca

The truth is that the “FontStruct Staff” does not really exist. While FontStruct has many kind friends who continue to help and support us in one way or another, and of course there is the wonderful “we” of the FontStructor community, there is no real “we” here at FontStruct towers. Since 2010, I (Rob Meek) have run FontStruct as a personal project from wherever I am, usually from a room in my flat. I’m sitting there now on a late Sunday afternoon, writing this blog post, having spent most of the day so far making some very silly pictures of imaginary brick harvests.

But FontStruct is not a one-person show. It’s less than that. Because FontStruct brings in no significant revenue, and in order to actually pay the bills, I need to spend the majority of my time doing work that has nothing directly to do with FontStruct. For example, working as the lead developer for the wonderful Fonts In Use, as well as for the excellent new type foundry Fontwerk. I also regularily work freelance for the design agency CDLX. – These are all great jobs which I enjoy but I have other clients as well and I could happily drop some of them. – So, in reality, the human resources available to this project are very thin indeed.

I’d like to work more for FontStruct, more frequently and I’d like to be paid for some of it. That’s why I’m launching “FS Patrons”.

Harvesting Circle Bricks

– Circle bricks are actually a perfectly spherical fruit, best harvested in the early morning. Only the ripest, roundest examples are good enough for the FontStructor. Photo by Bambi Corro

But don’t worry!

All things considered, with or without “FS Patrons”, our project remains healthy. Technically we are in a reasonable place, and we will continue to manage well with the limited funding we currently enjoy. Personally I continue to love most of the work I am able to do on the project, so I’m not going to walk away …

… but, given more funding, I would be able to dedicate some more time to FontStruct, and work on more new features, such as, for example:

  • improving the way we present character sets
  • extending unicode support
  • adding layers
  • supporting colour fonts
  • supporting custom bricks
  • supporting some OpenType features
  • adding real support for non-latin scripts
  • sorting out the abysmal gallery search
  • updating the site design

– All these things will take a long time to implement, with or without additional funding, but your support can help to accelerate the process.

So, if you’d like and if you can (I know times are tough for many!), please consider becoming an FS Patron.

Thank you!

Rob Meek

Founder and Lead Developer of FontStruct.

One Last Thing

If you haven’t done so yet, please read about our new OpenType download feature, exclusive to FS Patrons.

 

 


29 Comments

  1. elmoyenique

    Thanks a trillion, Boss! It’s time for changes, let’s make them!

    elmoyenique — March 4, 2021 #

  2. Rob Meek (meek)

    Thanks @elmo!

    Rob Meek (meek) — March 4, 2021 #

  3. four

    An excellent idea!

    four — March 4, 2021 #

  4. Patrick H. Lauke

    Good stuff

    Patrick H. Lauke — March 4, 2021 #

  5. BWM

    I’m excited for these features listed…

    BWM — March 4, 2021 #

  6. Rob Meek (meek)

    Me too – but it is a long term wishlist.

    Rob Meek (meek) — March 4, 2021 #

  7. will.i.ૐ

    Fantastic development! Thrilled to support in this way, in my own right understanding the needs/exigencies involved. Indeed, it is the quilt of community that allows the royal we to thrive. But without you, meek, none of this is really possible 💜

    will.i.ૐ — March 4, 2021 #

  8. Rob Meek (meek)

    Thank you will.i.ૐ!

    Rob Meek (meek) — March 4, 2021 #

  9. Yautja

    Great, consider yourself patroned!

    It looks like the Flash Optimized option is checked on older fonts, should there be a way to uncheck them all?

    Yautja — March 4, 2021 #

  10. time.peace

    Best wishes for this future endeavor!

    time.peace — March 4, 2021 #

  11. Rob Meek (meek)

    Thanks @Yautja! Yes, “Flash Optimized” was the original default.
    It’s not the end of the world if it’s set. I’ll try to think about a simple way to add an “uncheck all” functionality for that.

    Rob Meek (meek) — March 5, 2021 #

  12. erictom333

    I’ve been waiting a long time for more Unicode support for my fonts 5×7 Type 2 and Pixel Sans, especially Latin Extended-E (which contains a few obscure letters that I use for phonetic purposes, such as ꭓ, ꭋ and ꭥ), Private Use, and support for the SMP (my shortlist: Gothic, Old Italic, Ancient Symbols, Deseret, Shavian, Nabataean, Phonecian, Kharoshthi, Old Turkic, Old Hungarian, Brahmi, Siddham, some Cuneiform (and Cuneiform Numbers andPunctuation) and Egyptian Hieroglyphs, Kana Supplement and Extended-A, Musical Symbols, Counting Rod Numerals, Maya Numerals, Mathematical Alphanumeric Symbols, Adlam, emojis (1F000 – 1FAFF, even though not all of those are emojis), Symbols for Legacy Computing, and the proposed Latin Extended-F and -G blocks in 10780 – 107BF and 1E600 – 1E7FF (the latter isn’t actually that long, but I’ll need all that space for my own stuff); whew, that was long!).

    Back on topic: I might consider donating to support this site.

    erictom333 — March 5, 2021 #

  13. beate

    Hey Rob,
    Wow, such good news! I have been waiting for this for a long time. I’m very excited about the new directions you’re presenting for Fontstruct and the perspectives you’re describing here. I will definitely continue to support this venture.

    db
     

    beate — March 5, 2021 #

  14. architaraz

    Hello, there!

    Absolutely, you didn’t even have to ask ;)

    I subscribed on a monthly basis, the payment went through but I don’t know, something happened I guess, the page was loading forever so had to close it. Guess I’m not a patron yet? But the payment did go through, I checked my paypal. Could you please check what went wrong? I’m on Safari browser. I can send a paypal screenshot iff you need it.

    architaraz — March 5, 2021 #

  15. Rob Meek (meek)

    Thank you @architaraz! – no need for a screenshot, I get a notification. I’ll sort out your account straight away. (Done!)

    Rob Meek (meek) — March 5, 2021 #

  16. architaraz

    Ok :) Seems to be working now.

    I haven’t been active as before here, probably for the same reasons. This update should make me more motivated. Thank you for making FS better.

    architaraz — March 5, 2021 #

  17. elmoyenique

    @meek: The same thing happened to me as architaraz. Take a look, please. Thanks.

    elmoyenique — March 5, 2021 #

  18. Rob Meek (meek)

    Thanks @elmo I will do.
    Everyone who has signed up as a patron so far is set up as a patron, but I’m aware that there’s a hiccup at the end of the process.
    BTW I didn’t mention it in the blog post, but if you want to show the badge on your avatar, it’s in your settings (it’s off by default).

    Rob Meek (meek) — March 5, 2021 #

  19. elmoyenique

    Oops. Thank you, Boss!

    elmoyenique — March 5, 2021 #

  20. Goatmeal

    @meek – Rob, it’s the least I can do to support a website that has given me so much enjoyment coming up on… <checks watch> …12 years (!) at the end of this month.   ;^)   Once again, thank you for providing such a wonderfully creative outlet for all to use.

    Goatmeal — March 7, 2021 #

  21. minimum

    For all the difficult times fontstruct was there for me, being a patron is the least I can do.

    Patron me up, Rob[bie]!.

    Seriously, I am happy to support fontstruct in any way I can.

    One complication: Paypal is not an option from Pakistan. Can you come up with alternative method of payment?

    minimum — March 9, 2021 #

  22. Aeolien

    Wow, that sounds like an excellent idea! I can do that easily in small bites ;)

    Yes I’m in! Thanks Meek, for giving this chance of contributing, and for the great ideas you’re looking into. I hope a lot of Fontstructors will feel that FS is the best thing since the invention of cave ptake part.

    – Aeolien — March 9, 2021 #

  23. m_cm

    I was 11 years old in 2010 when I found FontStruct. It was a rough time of life for me, and finding this incredibly supportive and creative community felt like stumbling upon a goldmine. Although I haven’t been as active since the early days, when I was “Agent Demonic Ladybug,” I nonetheless scroll through the site very often. It warms my heart to see all the familiar faces – avatars, I guess – and all of the newer users who are so prolific.

    I’m so happy to hear that you’re taking this passion project even more seriously, Rob. Millions of users is a lot for one person to handle, and six dollars a month is the least I can do (and probably the most I can do – I’m a broke college student) to offer my gratitude. I’m amazed that the site is still running, flourishing actually, better than ever. This announcement has inspired me (and many others probably, judging by the comments here) to get back to FontStructing. Thank you thank you thank you for this amazing gift you’ve given to people around the world for so many years.

    m_cm — March 10, 2021 #

  24. Rob Meek (meek)

    @minimum Robbie! My dad calls me that ;-) I will try and think of an alternative method – any suggestions?

    Rob Meek (meek) — March 12, 2021 #

  25. Rob Meek (meek)

    Thank you @m_cm AKA @demonic! That’s a wonderful story and very encouraging and important to me.

    Rob Meek (meek) — March 12, 2021 #

  26. geneus1

    Love the dedication you’ve brought for allowing FontStruct to thrive for over a decade! Thanks for all you do, Rob. The OpenType downloads with CFF outlines provide a more professional quality for FS Patrons that I’ll be using on all commercially licensed work. Along those lines, I’m in full support of the evolution of FontStruct as its own commercial type foundry, allowing patrons to charge for the downloads of their saleable typefaces, with a percentage of sales going back directly to FontStruct.

    geneus1 — March 22, 2021 #

  27. Frodo7

    I am happy to support Fontstruct and become a(n) FS Patron. Fontstruct gave me so much, made my life richer; I am absolutely delighted to give something back. 

    Frodo7 — March 23, 2021 #

  28. Rob Meek (meek)

    Thanks @geneus1! A spin-off Foundry is still a possibility, but there are a lot of challenges, and I wouldn’t tie it to FS Patrons.

    Rob Meek (meek) — March 24, 2021 #

  29. Rob Meek (meek)

    Thank you @Frodo!

    Rob Meek (meek) — March 24, 2021 #