Alternate characters does not stay in place, as more are added

I am doing a font with several alternate characters, e.g. K.001, K.002 and so on. I organized a table for overview in Illustrator. The problem is that when I am adding more alternates and generating a new font, some characters are moved around so Illustrator might read, for example, the alt B for an alt Z, and the table gets all jumbled. This happens every time I am generating a new font with added alternatives.

Is there a way to give the alternates a code so they stay in place, or other solution?

If you add glyphs with the glyphs panel that are not encoded, they are inserted by their glyph index in the font. If the font changes or you add some glyphs, those indexes point to different glyphs.

You need to add an OpenType feature that accesses the glyphs. Then Illustrator will insert the base glyph and apply the feature on it. You can use rename your glyphs to K.ss01, K.ss02 and then update the features in Font Info.

Is there any other feature I can use, except the stylistic sets (.ss01, .ss02 etc)? I am already using most of the available stylistic sets as they are intended, and the alternates are actually belonging to the sets.

Maybe I need to split it up over several fonts, but I was hoping to avoid that as its much less practical to work with, and because I dont want to duplicate most of the base characters…

This should not happen in the first place. How are you testing the fonts? Are you using the Adobe Fonts Folder?

Yes, I am exporting to the Fonts folder within the Illustrator folder, so it replaces the previous version. It usually works perfect.

Did you make sure it is the only place where the font is placed? What you describe sounds very much like cache problems stemming from two conflicting installations.

Well, there might be copies of earlier version on the machine as I have sent it to other people. But I never installed it in the OS. I only put it in the Fonts folder, and only a single version that is being continuously overwritten.

But I will certainly try a clean install on another machine to make sure there is no conflict.

Today I gave all .alt glyphs .ss0x endings, and everything now behaves as expected. Only problem then is the limitation of 20 stylistic sets, which is not enough for my project, and also very unpractical to work with.

So there is no way of assigning alternative characters some code so they stay in place? Or are you saying that they have a code already?


There are also the Character Variant features. That may fit better here. It is supported by the latest Illustrator CC, I would be surprised if it would work in older versions. So you rename the glyphs to K.cv01 (you can use find in replace to do that).

There also is a feature called Character Variants: .cv01 through .cv99.

Actual sets of glyphs that belong together and should easily be accessible for users, are supposed to go into stylistic sets. E.g., caps with double-stroked verticals as opposed to caps without.

If, on the other hand, the variants are ‘not systematically related’ to other letters, you have character variants. E.g. many randomised distortions for each letter, and you cannot say that the first randomisation of a has anything special to do with the first variation of b, at least no more than with any other variation.

There is a grey area, namely small sets of ‘closely related’ letters. E.g., example all double-storey a letters, including ä, å, æ, à, and so on. The spec states that this may as well qualify for cvXX.

Also consider app support. The latest InDesign version supports both cvXX and ssXX, but the app you care about may not support both.

Edit: sorry, saw Georg’s post too late. Was writing this offline.

Many thanks guys! I will use the Character Variants!