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Font Foundries Opening Up To the Web 209

Posted by timothy
from the but-what-about-printing dept.
Tiger4 writes "A huge number of fonts are migrating from the print-only world to the Web. As the browser manufacturers get on board, the WWW will be a much more interesting place (see the article illustration). 'Beginning Tuesday, Monotype Imaging, a Massachusetts company that owns one of the largest collections of typefaces in the world, is making 2,000 of its fonts available to Web designers. The move follows that of San Francisco-based FontShop, which put several hundred of its fonts online in February. In just a few weeks, Font Bureau, a Boston designer of fonts, will make some of its typefaces available online as well.' With any luck, the transition period to font-richness will be briefer and less painful than the waving-flag, jumping-smiley, flashing-text era HTML explosion."
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Font Foundries Opening Up To the Web

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  • by Animats (122034) on Wednesday May 05, 2010 @02:43PM (#32102558) Homepage

    We got into the current mess of text in images because Microsoft wouldn't support Mozilla's font files. Is IE going with the standard this time around, or do we have another browser incompatibility issue?

  • by K. S. Kyosuke (729550) on Wednesday May 05, 2010 @03:00PM (#32102796)

    "In other words, a seventh-grader writing a book report on Microsoft Word had more font choices than the person designing Esquire Magazine's website or the IKEA online catalog."

    Which is probably why the average seventh-grader's book report looks so terrible and the websites in question look (most probably, haven't seen them) quite sensibly austere. Sometimes choice hurts if the user doesn't know the first thing about design.

  • by 0xdeadbeef (28836) on Wednesday May 05, 2010 @03:07PM (#32102876) Homepage Journal

    Every website in the world uses Verdana.

    Or, at least they do on my computer. Who cares what a web designer thinks looks good, I just want the text to be legible.

  • just embed them (Score:2, Insightful)

    by kcwebmonkey (1351779) on Wednesday May 05, 2010 @03:12PM (#32102942)
    I gave up a long time ago waiting on browsers to support this font and that font... now i just embed them with flash using sIFR -> http://www.mikeindustries.com/blog/sifr [mikeindustries.com]
  • Re:just embed them (Score:3, Insightful)

    by spikeb (966663) on Wednesday May 05, 2010 @03:18PM (#32103038)
    thanks for making the web a little more of a shitty place.
  • Re:Performance? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by mikael_j (106439) on Wednesday May 05, 2010 @03:20PM (#32103060)

    Well, one thing this will hopefully cut down on is all the extra images and associated markup that's being used today when attempting to create something that doesn't just look like a flat, ugly and ancient chunk of text (hint: the web has evolved past being the equivalent of a bunch of networked text files). It also means that designers can more easily make sites that don't break for some users because they don't have the right fonts (this is a major issue, the default serif and sans-serif fonts are rarely the same between operating systems and a lot of times even versions of the same operating system).

    Dismissing websites that have actually been designed as opposed to just latex2html-ified as "art" really just makes you come off as a grumpy person with no sense for estetics and good presentation of the information.

    I'm not saying this won't be abused, everything that can be abused will be abused, most likely by some teenager who just took his/her school's "intro to web design" course that teaches only the basics of "how" and not the "why" (as in, "how" to use web fonts, not "why" you should use them). Also, with a little luck this will be a feature that you can disable for those sites that insist on misbehaving.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday May 05, 2010 @03:32PM (#32103218)

    There are font snobs; kind of like wine snobs, or apple snobs, but even more nonsensically irrational. People leap on nearly anything as a justification for believing they are superior (in taste, intellect, beauty) to the 'masses'. Fonts are some people's excuse.

  • by westlake (615356) on Wednesday May 05, 2010 @03:45PM (#32103380)

    Because creating a *complete* font that looks good is a lot of work.

    It's a rare and extraordinary craft.

    Consider these Five Classic Type Faces [designingwithtype.com] from a Cooper Union introduction to typeface design:

    Garamond: French. Old Style. 1617

    Baskerville: English. Transitional. 1757.

    Bodoni: Italian. Modern. 1780.

    Century: American. "Egyptian." 1894.

    Helvetica: Swiss. Contemporary. 1957.

  • Re:Why... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by MagikSlinger (259969) on Wednesday May 05, 2010 @03:51PM (#32103460) Homepage Journal

    So, fonts are expensive because it's VERY hard to make good ones. And there isn't much of a market for them (relatively speaking), so the price never drops.

    The labor value theory [wikipedia.org] of doesn't explain the price of Helvetica which has been around for 50 years and heavily used (and bought). It's more like, "Multi-million dollar corporations are using this font to make millions, if not billions of dollars. You are using our work to make lots of money, so we deserve a cut of the action." And corporations go, "Using Helvetica really does bring me that much more money than I spent on it." So thus the expensive prices even for insanely popular and old fonts.

    The problem I have with their prices is that as an amateur, not-making-a-dime web site maker, the $1,300 CDN [linotype.com] the price is too high for the value I would get from it. So I will stick to things that don't cost me nearly 2 weeks wages--the free Microsoft fonts.

    In a sense, this is probably pareto-optimal, but the rest of the world is poorer for me using Microsoft's Arial instead of something they'd enjoy more.

    (What I'd like is a differential pricing scheme where a home user can buy a properly licensed font for a lot less, while they can still charge out the whazoo to United Airlines)

  • Re:Why... (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday May 05, 2010 @04:08PM (#32103688)

    I am not willing to grant your premise that "of course new fonts are needed".
    You have a mighty strange definition of the word 'need'.

  • by radtea (464814) on Wednesday May 05, 2010 @04:27PM (#32103920)

    I think I need 3 fonts to get along just fine

    Pretty much, and those are exactly the same three fonts everyone uses. Font weenies are just a bunch of wankers who make so much noise about how important exactly the right font is that they get other people to pay attention to them.

    They have done zero empirical testing on any aspect of font design, not even whether anyone can actually tell the difference between two "different" fonts without a detailed side-by-side comparison.

    Basically, anyone who is worried about fonts beyond the three you mention is paying way to much attention to presentation and by implication far too little attention to content.

  • Because generally speaking, free fonts are crap: They often don't come with lower case numerals, proper small-caps, decent contextual ligature support, multiple weights, properly prepared bold, oblique, and bold-oblique forms, proper hinting at small sizes, and variations of different optical sizes. All of which SOMEONE has to come up with, and properly implement. And that person/people SHOULD be paid for the insane amount of work required to prepare even the basic latin alphabet in all these variations, let alone implementing decent unicode support...
  • by Kozz (7764) on Wednesday May 05, 2010 @04:31PM (#32103968)

    As a developer, it's disheartening every time I see some kind of feature that looks exciting, only to discover that less than 50% of the site's visitors would be able to use it. Sadly, when IE doesn't support it, I have to shelve the idea and say, "Well, guess I'll check back in a few years."

  • by Draek (916851) on Wednesday May 05, 2010 @05:48PM (#32104934)

    Apart from recognizable trademark-style fonts that people use for a title page or a logo (Coca-cola, Snickers, Pacman) - do most people even care what font they are looking at?

    They don't, but they should: a good, quality fontface makes a world of difference in legibility vs a poorly-chosen one, and while the difference may be small for short works such as your typical Slashdot post, it becomes much more noticeable as the work becomes longer to the point that book editors pay thousands of dollars to get the perfect font for their books, because readers may *believe* it has no effect, but there's enough scientific studies proving that it does and quite measurably so.

    With that said, however, the defaults on OSX, Linux/BSD and Windows are fairly good so as long as you stick to the old rule of "sans serif for screens, serif for print" you should get 90% of the way with 1% of the effort. Sadly designers are a snobbish and wasteful sort, so here we go with all this crap polluting the CSS standard only to allow morons to make entire websites in Comic Sans MS. Ahh well, at least we can still disable it.

  • by Hatta (162192) on Wednesday May 05, 2010 @05:55PM (#32105022) Journal

    They often don't come with lower case numerals, proper small-caps, decent contextual ligature support, multiple weights, properly prepared bold, oblique, and bold-oblique forms, proper hinting at small sizes, and variations of different optical sizes. All of which SOMEONE has to come up with

    They dont HAVE to. We could easily do without all that.

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