My investigations into the source material have led to some interesting finds. In particular, I got my hands on a scan of the original Strand magazine from 1903, and looked at The Adventure of the Dancing Men therein. And, indeed, the drawings were very much different. This is definitely going to come into play with the font.
I’ve been working on getting ready for MegaMooseCon, filling orders, dealing with my aunt’s estate, prepping the TableMaster manual for the printer, working on the Mac port (just found where a leftover Windows system call was hiding!) and all sorts of other chaos, mostly all at once. One of the major parts of that has been preparing the font package for a relaunch, 20+ years later.
Actually, it’s two font packages now: Arcane Alphabets, a major reworking of the old one, and Cryptic Ciphers, which is almost entirely new. (one font, Astrologer, moved over from AA because it fit better in CC) It’s the latter that I’m working on right now, and the font I’m currently taking a break from is the famous Sherlock Holmes “Dancing Men” cipher, which I’ve called “Slaney“, named for the villain of the story.
Since I’m surfacing from font-editing for a little while, I figured I’d spend that time talking a bit about the design process that went into Slaney, with some asides about fonts in general.
MegaMooseCon is approaching very much like an oncoming express train. Running around buying pickup trucks, even one just the one pickup truck, hasn’t helped. :p But one critical thing is now done and ready for the proofreader: the new version of the dead-trees manual.
As I mentioned in the last post about the new .ASK command, I hadn’t settled on how I was going to handle variable types. There were a number of alternatives, including separate commands, but I finally settled on having .ASK check to see if the user’s input is valid for the variable type given, whether it’s text or numeric.
That, of course, led to the question of what happens if you want to do that at some other time, not just with an .ASK. The answer to that is probably indicative of why TBL, at last count, has 83 commands and another 64 synonyms for some of those commands: I keep thinking of things that should have a command, so I put one in. In this case, it’s .CONVERT.
Also, there’s a new they-variable. More after the jump.
Those of you who remember the original TableMaster have, no doubt, noticed the absence of the .ASK command in TableMaster II, and its relatives .SCREEN and .CLEARSCREEN. Wonder no more — it’s back, and it’ll be in the next release. (watch the download page) I left it until now because getting it right is actually surprisingly complicated.