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Mozilla The Internet

Web Open Font Format Gets Backing From Mozilla 206

Posted by ScuttleMonkey
from the turns-out-open-is-easier-to-adopt dept.
A new format specification has reached consensus among web and type designers and is being backed by Mozilla. Dubbed Web Open Font Format (WOFF), it is an effort to bring advanced typography to the Web in a much better way. Support for the new spec will be included as a part of Firefox 3.6 which just recently hit beta. "WOFF combines the work Leming and Blokland had done on embedding a variety of useful font metadata with the font resource compression that Kew had developed. The end result is a format that includes optimized compression that reduces the download time needed to load font resources while incorporating information about the font's origin and licensing. The format doesn't include any encryption or DRM, so it should be universally accepted by browser vendors — this should also qualify it for adoption by the W3C."
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Web Open Font Format Gets Backing From Mozilla

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  • by SlappyBastard (961143) on Monday November 02, 2009 @06:01PM (#29955680) Homepage
    For example, just imagine a world where every website can easily implement Comic Sans, even if the end user has uninstalled the font.
    • by zonky (1153039) on Monday November 02, 2009 @06:04PM (#29955718)
      Surely there are security concerns around sites using fonts where the letters are 'swapped' to obfusicate where links are actually directed?
      • by sopssa (1498795) * <sopssa@email.com> on Monday November 02, 2009 @06:07PM (#29955774) Journal

        What? How would that be easier than the plain-old "check out -> http://tech.slashdot.org/story/09/11/02/2025242/Web-Open-Font-Format-Gets-Backing-from-Mozilla [goat.se]"

        • by zonky (1153039) on Monday November 02, 2009 @06:12PM (#29955858)
          You can quite easily fool people that the sites they are on are encypted by setting the favicon to be a padlock- people are simply unable to determine where they are, whether or not a site is trustworthy, and will click anything to install something. Web Fonts may offer some advantages, but they seem to have downsides as well.
          • by causality (777677) on Monday November 02, 2009 @06:53PM (#29956362)

            people are simply unable to determine where they are, whether or not a site is trustworthy, and will click anything to install something

            That's because according to many users, basic competence is "only for geeks and nerds." Many of them consider it a terribly unreasonable burden to expect them to read even the most basic step-by-step documentation which was intended for non-technical audiences because "they're not computer experts." They don't seem to appreciate the difference between "don't trust every anonymous individual who asks for your bank account information" and "write this complex program in x86 assembly," which is not unlike the difference between "drive this car" and "rebuild its engine."

            Knowing this, do I feel sorry for them when they get screwed? No, I don't. It's unfortunate and I wish it didn't have to be that way, but I see no injustice in it. That's because they not only refuse to inform themselves but often actively resent even the implication that they could and should. This still goes on even after the widely publicised cases of identity theft and fraud that, if anything, the media tends to get sensationalistic about. It still goes on despite the vast wealth of freely available information out there which is accessible to anyone who can get to Google. At some point, water seeks its own level. The scammers are just attaching a higher price tag to something that didn't have an excuse in the first place.

            • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

              by Korin43 (881732)
              Sorry, but I think your car analogy is flawed. It's more like the difference between "don't get in cars with strangers" and "rebuild this engine".
          • by dangitman (862676) on Monday November 02, 2009 @08:06PM (#29957080)

            Web Fonts may offer some advantages, but they seem to have downsides as well.

            Such a bold statement!

      • Perhaps, but no more than is already practised by some sites.

        Take link-redressing for example. Noscript often detects attempts to redress links, though somehow google
        manage to redress links without setting off noscript. I never managed to figure out how the jumble of obfuscated javascript on google achieved this.

        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by PRMan (959735)
          Noscript is set to allow Google to be trusted in many areas that others are not. It makes some sense, as Google has been fairly trustworthy until now.
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by davidbrit2 (775091)
        I've (fortunately) yet to see a web browser that lets you apply a font to its status bar via CSS.
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by DragonWriter (970822)

        Surely there are security concerns around sites using fonts where the letters are 'swapped' to obfusicate where links are actually directed?

        Link addresses appear in the toolbar, which fonts specified in a webpage (whether or not they are embedded in the page) don't affect. The only thing fonts in the page would affect is the presentation of the link text, which the page owner controls from the outset, and can already make as misleading as they want.

      • by Vexorian (959249)
        Is there a reason that this custom font should affect the browser's status bar? I guess not, then it would just be a very sophisticated attempt at doing what sopssa's post does already...
      • Surely there are security concerns around sites using fonts where the letters are 'swapped' to obfusicate where links are actually directed?

        Statusbar fonts can't be messed with. Mouse over those links!

      • by BitZtream (692029)

        How is that any different from what you can do with CSS downloaded fonts now?

      • by Eil (82413)

        Huh? There are already ridiculously easy ways to do that.

    • by syousef (465911) on Monday November 02, 2009 @06:05PM (#29955732) Journal

      For example, just imagine a world where every website can easily implement Comic Sans, even if the end user has uninstalled the font.

      Unfortunately I think most web sites will standardise on Windings.

    • by jonbryce (703250)

      You can do that already with animated gifs.

    • by Gerald (9696)

      They already can [mikeindustries.com].

      • From the article about sIFR:

        It accomplishes this by using a combination of javascript, CSS, and Flash...If Flash isn’t installed (or obviously if javascript is turned off), the (X)HTML page displays as normal...the script creates Flash movies of the same dimensions

        So it re-renders all of the text as a series of Flash movies. What a *great* idea.

        The Wikimedia family of sites render equations as PNGs and use workarounds like the java cortado player to play Ogg Vorbis and Ogg Theora content in the browser, but only as a workaround until something better comes out. Now that several browsers have the tag working, you can bet that Wikipedia is going to (or already is) making that content directly accessible through standards-based methods. We g

        • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

          by Anonymous Coward

          sIFR is really only intended for replacing header text, not body text. It's an easy, cross-browser compatible, gracefully degrading way to use non-standard fonts for headers or embellishment. It's more flexible and requires less implementation time than replacing those same header items with PNGs. It also doesn't interfere with search engine indexing, and the text can still be selected/copied normally. Not a bad solution, in my mind. At least until something better (like a web open font format) comes along.

    • by keytoe (91531) on Monday November 02, 2009 @07:16PM (#29956590) Homepage

      I know it's not an XKCD link, but it's surprisingly relevant to the topic: http://achewood.com/index.php?date=07052007 [achewood.com]

  • How long... (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward

    ...before Microsoft embraces and extends this format?

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by javaman235 (461502)

      ...before Microsoft embraces and extends this format?

      I hope so, actually. So long as the core works on both and its open, I'll be happy. Web designers have been waiting for this for years, but its going nowhere without IE support.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by characterZer0 (138196)

        You do not seem to understand what embrace+extend does. Once MS embraces+extends it and the sites generated with Visual Studio and FrontPage and those made by countless inept "web designers" in mom's basement and in corporate IT departments such that many sites do not work with any browser other than IE, the open standard is meaningless.

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by Brian Gordon (987471)

        Keep waiting, because the users don't want this. I like my DejaVu Sans and prefer to read all my sites in the same readable font of my choice.

        • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

          by John Hasler (414242)

          > Keep waiting, because the users don't want this. I like my DejaVu Sans and
          > prefer to read all my sites in the same readable font of my choice.

          Same here.

        • Re:How long... (Score:4, Informative)

          by xaxa (988988) on Monday November 02, 2009 @07:08PM (#29956502)

          Then find the checkbox next to "Disable web fonts" and tick it. It's probably near "Disable images" and "Disable styles".

          The rest of us will enjoy the improvement.

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by mikael (484)

        Embrace, Extend and Extinguish.

        Embrace = Microsoft says they will include the standard in Internet Explorer

        Extend = Microsoft adds and patents their own extensions to the standard. Microsoft makes these extensions "standard" in their web page editing software, that is unreadable on other browsers

        Extinguish = Because the standard isn't universal, it either falls out of favor to be replaced by something else, or becomes an IE only feature.

    • Why is this even news? It's all well and good for a browser vendor to endorse a font format, but it's absolutely useless if no foundries will release fonts in this format. As I found out the hard way, designing a good font is difficult, and best left to experts. Being able to make our own "open" fonts is a nice idea in theory, but in practice, it's more useful to be able to buy or commission fonts from professional designers.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by PyroMosh (287149)

        Would you say that designing a font is more, or less work than the following examples:

        1. Designing and programming a graphics editing application
        2. Designing and programming a web browser and it's associated rendering engine(s) and interpreter(s)
        3. Designing and programming a graphics library for programming and presentation of 2d and 2d computer graphics
        4. Designing and programming an FTP client
        5. Designing and programming a file archiver to work with standards such as zip, rar, or 7z format
        6. Designing and programming an o
    • How long before Microsoft embraces and extends this format?

      The problem here is not that MS will extend/embrace, but that they will ignore. If IE does not implement this, it will be a long long time before serious Web designers / developers pay attention to it. The sad but simple fact: IE is still has the market share.

  • Great, but... (Score:2, Interesting)

    by BenoitRen (998927)

    It's great that we're getting an open for fonts. However, I'm worried that using this, in the future various websites will push users to view their website in their own cool font and be optimised for them. This could break the web's font-agnosticism.

    • Re:Great, but... (Score:4, Insightful)

      by sopssa (1498795) * <sopssa@email.com> on Monday November 02, 2009 @06:09PM (#29955808) Journal

      Since they do it anyways, it sure wins having the text in an image, or worse, flash applet.

    • Re:Great, but... (Score:4, Insightful)

      by Openstandards.net (614258) <slashdot@NoSPAM.openstandards.net> on Monday November 02, 2009 @06:14PM (#29955880) Homepage
      The web isn't really font-agnostic. It hasn't been since styles were introduced. What it is is font-limited, because the content provider can specify the preferred fonts, but can't control the actual fonts used. To be sure, this doesn't remove control from the end-user. They will still probably be able to reject a new font. You can also create content the old way, either with no font specified, or with your preferred font list of popular fonts. This simply adds an option for content providers who want to use fonts that are not necessarily likely to be installed on the user's machine, but are preferable to using images. Text in images is not Ctrl-F searchable and can consume a lot of bandwidth relative to text.
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        Text in images [...] can consume a lot of bandwidth relative to text.

        Relative to text, yes. Relative to downloading an entire font? Hmm.

        Arial.ttf is 756 KB on my machine. Arial Unicode MS is over 22 MB.

        • Relative to downloading an entire font? Hmm.

          Arial.ttf is 756 KB on my machine. Arial Unicode MS is over 22 MB.

          Ideally, your web site revision system has a character whitelist that covers the language(s) that you use on the site, so that people who post comments can't use bidirectional override characters to break the layout. Your fonts could be subsetted to use all the glyphs used by characters in the whitelist and no others. For example, if your site is available only in English, you can drop kana, CJK ideographs, Hangul syllables, Cyrillic, Arabic, Hebrew, Syriac, the various Brahmic scripts, etc.

  • by syousef (465911) on Monday November 02, 2009 @06:07PM (#29955772) Journal

    Then it'll be accurate to describe the content of all major web sites as a bunch of WOFFLE.

  • Control over fonts has always been a limit with the web design and I believe this could help overcome it, creating an important improvement for the web. I'm interested in understanding how web browsers will handle font updates across operating systems, whether or not fonts will be added system wide or just for the browser, and perhaps just for the user. I'd love to use cutting edge fonts like urban fonts (http://www.urbanfonts.com) without having to turn them into GIFs before including in web content.
    • by sopssa (1498795) *

      I doubt (and at least sure hope so) that the fonts will be automatically added in to system. They most likely go to the browsers own Fonts-folder.

      • Perhaps the download target could be an option, defaulting to the user config. I personally would want any font I chose to add to become available system-wide. It would save me the effort of trying to propagate web fonts to the system so I could use them in other tools like GIMP.
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by John Hasler (414242)

        The article makes it fairly clear that the fonts are to be available only within the browser and even only on pages from a particular domain.

        It's ok, I guess, as long as I can turn it off and force the use of my chosen fonts.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Xtifr (1323)

      Control over fonts has always been a limit with the web design

      Yes, it sure is horrible when the users have some say over how content is presented to them. Those damn users should just sit down, shut up, and consume like good little drones!

      I'd love to use cutting edge fonts [...]

      I'd love to avoid sites you design at all costs! At least until I get a javascript-enabled version of lynx working. :)

      Actually, I'm making a bit of an unfair judgment here. I'm presuming that you don't know how to design a site that gracefully degrades but still works properly when a user has a browser with missing or deliberately

      • Re:Brillian idea (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Draek (916851) on Monday November 02, 2009 @07:52PM (#29956946)

        Actually, I'm making a bit of an unfair judgment here. I'm presuming that you don't know how to design a site that gracefully degrades but still works properly when a user has a browser with missing or deliberately disabled features. But you know what they say: it's only 99.99% of web designers that make the rest look bad! :)

        This, a thousand times this. As much as I dislike the idea by itself, having certain control over fonts in the web isn't a bad thing by itself, it helps make it prettier and more readable when done correctly. The problems start, however, at the very point where the website stops working correctly because the user had the "arrogance" of replacing the font with his own, or the "nerve" to press Ctrl++ to try and make the text bigger.

        The two most important words for anyone doing web design and/or development are degrade gracefully. They should be hammered into the skull of every new student, branded with fire on their arses, and giving out 100 pages of the phrase hand-written in cursive should be mandatory before graduation.

        Use Silverlight to show an h264-encoded 1080p introductory video to visitors of your website if you want, write the entire menu in a client-side version of lolcode if you wish and use CSS features that won't be implemented by anyone before the year 2020 to make it prettier if you must, as long as you degrade gracefully and show something *useful* to people who don't have support for your dearest gizmo.

        Seriously. Once desktop computers stop being the norm for web browsing, you and your boss will thank me for it.

        • The two most important words for anyone doing web design and/or development are degrade gracefully.

          Erm... No. Sorry, not even close.

          Here are a few much more important pairs of words for most people doing web design other than purely for personal satisfaction:

          • Cost/benefit
          • Market share
          • Progressive enhancement

          There is a certain proportion of people in the world who are quite happy to visit others' web sites and consume the content free of charge, yet who think the web designers should go out of their way to accommodate people who actively choose not to view the content as intended by those offering it. For m

        • by ejtttje (673126)

          The problems start, however, at the very point where the website stops working correctly because the user had the "arrogance" of replacing the font with his own, or the "nerve" to press Ctrl++ to try and make the text bigger.

          The current alternatives to font downloads degrade much worse! Currently, images are often used for things such as button labels or headings or logos or such fancy UI elements. There is no way to replace these elements with a more readable font for visually-impared users, alt tags are often forgotten, and it's invisible to spidering and context parsing. Scaling with Ctrl-+, if the browser even scales images, becomes blurry and unreadable.

          I have trouble imaging how font downloads will do anything but im

        • The problems start, however, at the very point where the website stops working correctly because the user had the "arrogance" of replacing the font with his own, or the "nerve" to press Ctrl++ to try and make the text bigger.

          Assuming, of course, that ^C++ (or in my case, repeating ^C-- for every other website) has any effect whatsoever.

          I've never seen, for example, a popular blog that didn't have fonts so large they resembled something in a Children's book, or the cover of a magazine as opposed to the insid

      • by Radhruin (875377)
        I think we can all agree that not providing features for creative control of a medium because some people might make a pile of feces out of it is a terrible idea.
        • by ejtttje (673126)
          You give "we all" too much credit :-/ As grandparent demonstrates, there's still a lot of console-based luddites that want to restrict us all to the lowest common denominator. Which is especially sad in this case because web fonts will allow text to degrade much more gracefully than the current solutions of using images (and then usually forgetting the alt tags) or worse, flash.
      • Re:Brillian idea (Score:4, Interesting)

        by plasticsquirrel (637166) on Tuesday November 03, 2009 @12:43AM (#29959876)
        You are assuming that the difference between one font and another is purely presentation, and that the user already has adequate fonts available. For those who do not deal with fonts often and the technical needs of many websites, here is an example.

        For romanized Indic text (used in many translations of Hindu and Buddhist literature), a number of Unicode letters and diacritics are needed that go well beyond the characters typically used in Western European languages (for example, IAST [wikipedia.org]). Each platform has different fonts available by default that may handle these characters. Linux has the DejaVu fonts and Apple has Lucida Grande, but Microsoft only has Microsoft Sans Serif, which is the ugly cousin of Arial. In this font, there are no real italics, and the "fake italics" used look hideous because the slant is so exaggerated that they are painful to read. Any website text rendered in this font absolutely stinks for readability and for aesthetics.

        I would like to be able to use a standard method of offering a font such as Linux Libertine or DejaVu Sans, that renders acceptably under Windows (most fonts don't), and have that handled in a streamlined way. Otherwise, I am forced to either make web pages that render as ugly as sin under Windows, or put up an optional page that explains how a user can download the font and manually install it. Both of these options are unacceptable for diacritics that should be so standard by now. Microsoft has really dropped the ball on Unicode support in its fonts, and web developers are left to try to cobble together solutions. The only other alternative is to only provide PDF's made with XeTeX, but PDF is no replacement for a web page.

        Most /. readers are happy with a few ANSI characters, as long as they can see some code examples in their web browser, and as long as it renders English correctly, but there is a whole world of people who have entirely different needs.
  • Fix encoding first (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Chelloveck (14643) on Monday November 02, 2009 @06:12PM (#29955842) Homepage
    I'd be much happier if sites would just get their fscking 'charset' tags set properly. I suppose now we can look forward to smart-quotes mis-encoded in a whole variety of site-specific fonts!
  • by Interoperable (1651953) on Monday November 02, 2009 @06:12PM (#29955848)

    Oh. Shit.

    You know what else the Internet needs more of? Blink tags. In the right hands, fonts are marvelous tools for graphic design and aesthetics. In the hands of the average user or amateur web designer...shit. It's a good thing this is happening well into the Web 2.0 era. Can you imagine if this had been around in the days of Geocities.

    • by jonbryce (703250)

      Less use of <img src="blinkinglogo.gif">?

    • by Vexorian (959249)
      You know what's already possible to do in the current web? Blinking text in comic sans font! Just grab your favorite gif maker and let it render some comic sans on it. Done!
      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by dkf (304284)

        You know what's already possible to do in the current web? Blinking text in comic sans font! Just grab your favorite gif maker and let it render some comic sans on it. Done!

        Make it scroll too. After all, you can't underuse the <MARQUEE> tag...

    • by sootman (158191)

      Can you imagine if this had been around in the days of Geocities.

      Rats. If only this technology would have been released just a few weeks earlier... [slashdot.org] Now we'll never know.

  • by Richard Steiner (1585) <rsteiner@visi.com> on Monday November 02, 2009 @06:13PM (#29955874) Homepage Journal

    ...when the web was more about content than fancy presentation?

    I mean, how many people really need to use fancy fonts to read a web forum, read a news article, or buy an item from a store?

    It's a nice idea if universal buy-in could be obtained, but ... why? :-)

    • by John Whitley (6067) on Monday November 02, 2009 @06:34PM (#29956136) Homepage

      ...when the web was more about content than fancy presentation?

      No, you can't have your (ugly) static unstyled HTML back. Because the history of the web has shown that limiting technology presents no real limit to either bad presentation or awful information architecture. Web publishers who are doin' it wrong will continue to suck no matter how the medium evolves. It's the people with a clue, who create compelling new experiences, who are the ones I want to see empowered with new ways of doing things.

    • There was never a time when the web truly content rich. It was all content, but very poor and very incomplete, and then it morphed into today's web somewhat seamlessly with both fluff and content coming on line in parallel. I'm just glad the developers have gotten over full page flash for the most part. There was a time 3-4 years ago when entire, major corporate sites (Bath & Body Works comes to mind) were protected by flash-only portals. No flash, no entry.

      This would be a fabulous idea if the web were

    • by Pulzar (81031)

      It's a nice idea if universal buy-in could be obtained, but ... why? :-)

      Well, nice presentation *is* important. Think of buttons, headings, etc... not plain text. It is all done using graphics right now, meaning you require more bandwidth to present the data, and you have redundancy in alt tags. If one has a wider variety of fonts available, one could produce very nice looking pages using text only, which is better for everybody.

    • Gopher servers? That's the last time I recall content taking a complete backseat to presentation.

      When a user could properly integrate content from alt.sex.pictures into his hypertext archive of rejected "Penthouse Letters" submissions, the true utility of the html web was clear: the consolidation of location, information, and presentation.

    • Does anyone else long for the days when the web was more about content than fancy presentation?

      Most people don't surf with Lynx anymore (maybe RMS does...). The visual presentation is part of the content because the Web is now (today, the current era) a visual media.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Tim C (15259)

      On my last project at work, we had a requirement to create a number of pages in languages other than English. Some of them (such as Tigrinya [wikipedia.org]) use non-Latin character sets. Without a cross-browser way to provide or embed the appropriate font with/in the page, we had to rely on the user having the font installed on their PC (or the PC they happened to be accessing the site from).

      Now in most cases that's probably true, as most people accessing those pages will be doing so because they speak that language, and

    • by farnsworth (558449) on Monday November 02, 2009 @08:06PM (#29957076)

      ...when the web was more about content than fancy presentation?

      I believe that's the point of why this is needed. Currently, if an author wants or needs precise layout with specific fonts, they pretty much have to use flash or images. This hurts accessibility to content. For example, Seth Godin's site [sethgodin.com] has plenty of content, but no text. You could argue that he's doing it wrong, and he shouldn't be feeding us binary images when he's trying to convey words. On the other hand, you could argue that his site is really nice looking, conveys his message really well, and it's a pity that it's impossible to do this without resorting to such hacks that make the text un-ctrl-f'able, or unreadable by screen readers.

      I believe the point of WOFF is to add semantic information to pages that authors want to appear in a very specific way, and that's a good thing.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Radhruin (875377)

      Why? Because the web is about much more than sending words and bytes back and forth. It's about communication, of which there are many forms. Wanting to use a certain font to convey a certain message is valid. And of course you will always have the choice of whether or not you want to display those fonts, just like you can choose to disable javascript, images, and css if you really want to. And the choice of whether or not you want to visit sites that wish to exercise greater creative control over their med

  • As long as: (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday November 02, 2009 @06:15PM (#29955886)

    As long as firefox gives me a way to ignore all this, I am fine with it.

  • by chriss (26574) * <chriss@memomo.net> on Monday November 02, 2009 @06:18PM (#29955942) Homepage

    The interesting part of WOFF is not that it is a new font format. Actually it is mostly a wrapper around the OpenType format from Microsoft and Adobe with some goodies. The important part is that WOFF restricts where the font can be linked to. While e.g. a truetype font can be referenced from anywhere with CSS, a WOFF font has to be stored on the same site as the web page/css.

    This might seem minor to you, but due to this restriction some of the large font foundries like fontfont and linotype will license their professional fonts for web use for the first time [edenspiekermann.com] (, probably because it would make prosecution of non licensed font use doable). This is actually big and will probably be an important step for typography on the web. I hope for the end of sFir, headlines as graphics and other bad ideas.

    I think the format itself is not so much a technical and more a political achievement. It actually helps that it was derived from drafts from two typographers, not from some of the browser producers. The fact that it is a new format (so no copy problem baggage) and that it will provide some very light copy protection without having to implement DRM on the browser site probably helped getting the foundries on board. And you really need the foundries if you want typography to work, the current state of free fonts is just not good enough for most professional requirements.

    Gecko, webkit and Opera already support OpenType, so adding the new format will be easy. Microsoft's IE supports crippled OpenType as eOT. The primary reason for crippling it was providing some light copy protection to get the foundries on board (which failed), so maybe even Microsoft will play along this time.

    If this happens, we will not only see one font technology that is supported by all browsers for the first time, but will also be able to use thousands of professional fonts along with already usable free fonts to help browsers catch up with the increased readability and expressiveness print has had for hundreds of years due to the long time experience in typography.

    • by kill-1 (36256) on Monday November 02, 2009 @06:41PM (#29956232)

      This might seem minor to you, but due to this restriction some of the large font foundries like fontfont and linotype will license their professional fonts for web use for the first time

      I believe it when I see it. It is trivial to convert a WOFF font back to Truetype or CFF. And most WOFF fonts probably won't be subsetted, so the foundries are essentially allowing their licensees to put their complete fonts on the web downloadable for everyone.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by chriss (26574) *

        I believe it when I see it. It is trivial to convert a WOFF font back to Truetype or CFF. And most WOFF fonts probably won't be subsetted, so the foundries are essentially allowing their licensees to put their complete fonts on the web downloadable for everyone.

        From the page I linked to in my previous post [edenspiekermann.com]: "For this reason FF Meta designer Erik Spiekermann, the FontFont Typeface Library – the world’s largest collection of original, contemporary typefaces –, and the FontShops endorse the WOFF specification, with default same-origin loading restrictions, as a Web font format. FontFont expects to license fonts for Web use in this format. ... We hope that besides the upcoming Mozilla Firefox 3.6 other browsers will join in implementing WOFF.

        • by kill-1 (36256)

          "FontFont expects to license fonts for Web use in this format."

          Yeah, I read that about a week ago. The keyword here is "expects". Why didn't they say "will"? As I said, I believe it when I see it.

    • The important part is that WOFF restricts where the font can be linked to. While e.g. a truetype font can be referenced from anywhere with CSS, a WOFF font has to be stored on the same site as the web page/css.

      Thats trivial to fix, add an option to not allow fonts that aren't on the site itself. I'm not sure why the browser can selectively do it for these fonts but not for CSS fonts. Any technical reason you come up with is going to be obviously bunk.

      You argue that this is important for font foundries. W

      • by chriss (26574) * <chriss@memomo.net> on Monday November 02, 2009 @07:50PM (#29956922) Homepage

        You haven't provided any reason that this font format is different than what we already have, and you're completely ignoring the SVG format which is actually a fully open standard, and is already supported if you properly support SVGs.

        The point you didn't get: It doesn't matter.

        • It does not matter if this could be done with existing technology.
        • It does not matter that it is basically OpenType in a new packaging.
        • It does not matter that it does provide close to no copy protection.
        • It does not matter that browsers could simply ignore it.
        • It does not matter that font licenses make the RIAA look like the EFF.

        The ONLY thing that matters is that the foundries accept WOFF, because they have the content that everybody wants to license. And if they puke on SVG, TrueType or OpenType, it wouldn't matter if these were the best formats the world has ever seen. The "new format" is more a psychological definition than a technological one. Yes, one can find a million reasons why this is stupid, unnecessary, nothing new, but it doesn't matter.

        And for the (old and boring) argument against font use on the web: There IS no good typography on the web, because it cannot work due to lack of good fonts. So using the current state as an argument why WOFF is unnecessary is kind of short sighed, when the current situation is bad due to the lack of an established font solution accepted by the industry, which is exactly what WOFF is trying to change.

        If you want to argue that typography is bad, please use print as your target, because this is where typography is put to good use. I write this on a display at 160DPI, the iPhone also has about 160DBI and the Nokia tablets have 240DPI. In a few years every screen will be indistinguishable from paper, all operating systems will be resolution independent and 20 years of lousy font support at 72DPI will be a fading memory of the past. The future of web typography will be much longer than its current past, so judge it on what it can do (and does on paper today), not based on failed implementations.

  • Courier. I like to pretend I'm reading a typewriter printout.
  • Now I know what to disable first in Firefox 3.6.

    • Because you somehow prefer sFir [mikeindustries.com] (Flash-based) headline fonts or text rendered into big headline images? Really, if a site has sucky typography (or content problems or lousy navigation or lame presentation) then just stay away. It's pretty much that easy.

      WOFF, if it works, is a fine idea IMO. It's about time that typography grows up and comes to the web. Personally, I'm hoping that this succeeds wildly and increases interest in free/libre/oss fonts and font authoring tools.

      Also consider that web-delivere

      • by Tumbleweed (3706)

        People here on Slashdot complain about Flash all the time, but it's not generally Flash that is the problem, but bad design. This will make that problem worse (like the poster who joked about seeing Comic Sans more now - that's literally going to be the case). I like the ability, sure, but I know what the downside is going to be.

        My machine at home is configured to use only the fonts I find most readable (trebuchet ms for proportional fonts (serif or sans serif - always gets the same font for me), and andale

  • Unless I'm not understanding this, it seems like at some point in the communication -- the font information is still being communicated to the client. Even if it's encrypted, it would still seem to me that the entire font could be extracted and rebuilt at some level just by viewing it.

    How long until we see an application (or a web-based application) that does exactly this?

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      A couple of hours?

      Now imagine a crazy world where you could just right-click on a copyrighted image and select 'save as'. How could images be useful in such a world? They couldn't, right?

  • This is going to be so great in 10 years when IE supports it fully and enough users are running that version of IE to make it worth the implementation time.
  • by sconeu (64226) on Monday November 02, 2009 @07:18PM (#29956616) Homepage Journal

    Web Open Representation for Fonts....

    Just so we could have WORF as an acronym.

    "Today is a good day to be rendered!"

  • Do I read the article right? It's just a compression scheme for OpenType?
  • by oliverk (82803) on Monday November 02, 2009 @08:31PM (#29957430)

    While I really, really want more typographic control in my layouts, the lack of talent and discretion among the great unwashed scares the bejeezus out of me. I foresee a future where surfing the web will be like reading email signatures, page after page...

  • Does it include a "blink" attribute?

  • When will we be able to tune the Typesettings in CSS? Kerning, Tracking, etc?

  • Will we finally see an adequate, standardized implementation of LaTeX online? The lack of such an implementation was recently lamented by Fields Medal winner Terrance Tao on his blog: http://terrytao.wordpress.com/2009/10/29/displaying-mathematics-on-the-web/ [wordpress.com]
  • by thethibs (882667) on Monday November 02, 2009 @09:38PM (#29958304) Homepage

    So, in this corner we have Embedded Open Type which has been supported by the last four versions of IE, but little used because no one wants to use features tied to one browser.

    In the other corner, we have the challenger, WOFF, the new kid in town.

    Will one of them win or will they battle to a draw, leaving web designers with a choice between using web-safe fonts and the work of supporting two standards. In the latter case, we'll be stuck with boring typography for years.

    EOT is on its way through W3C standardization. WOFF is still a prototype that smells like yet another "anything but Microsoft" ploy. Let's hope that Microsoft decides to humour them.

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