Variable font with Width axis not working in Adobe Illustrator (requires a workaround)

I’m not 100% sure this topic fits in this forum, but I was searching here for answers to it, so I hope it might help others to have the solution/workaround here!

I created a variable font with a width axis. The font works well in environments like web browsers, but the variable axis slider has no effect in Illustrator. This also affects variable fonts with a Width axis and other axes – none of the shaping changes of any axes are rendered in Illustrator.

The workaround:
After some debugging and experimentation, I finally learned that the “space” glyph must change in its character width, and only then will Illustrator actually apply variable shaping changes.

This is an Illustrator bug, so I’ve filed it in their sort-of bug tracking forum:

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For what it’s worth: the 2024 versions of adobe apps introduced a plethora of bugs related to variable font rendering.
As it is a problem on their side our workaround is to tell clients not to use the updates and rather stay with the 2023 versions.
I don’t even test fonts in the 2024 versions anymore :man_shrugging:

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