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Graphics Software

Typography On the Web Gets Different 378

bstender writes "Most major browsers — including the latest versions of Internet Explorer, Firefox, Safari, Chrome, and Opera — recognize a CSS rule known as @font-face. What that means, in brief, is that Web developers can now easily embed downloadable fonts in their pages. To see an example, load up Firefox 3.5 or Safari 4 and learn more. You'll see three new typefaces — Liza, Auto, and Dolly — used in the body text and headlines." No doubt the licensing issues are just as complex as the font nerd potential.
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Typography On the Web Gets Different

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  • Oh Lord! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by fidget42 ( 538823 ) on Thursday July 16, 2009 @09:48AM (#28715919)
    That page looked terrible on my PC (with FireFox 3.5)! I can easily see this getting abused.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      Anything is better than yellow Comic Sans on a purple background!
    • by eldavojohn ( 898314 ) * <(eldavojohn) (at) (> on Thursday July 16, 2009 @10:00AM (#28716113) Journal

      I can easily see this getting abused.

      Your prediction need only look back on UI technologies like Flash to realize that there will certainly be some of an "artistic" nature that will be enabled by this new technology to make their page look like this []. Don't get me wrong, I love !!! and their music. And I find the site amusing. Horrendously confusing (you'll notice you can interact with those things) but a common occurrence among bands to take Flash to a level it's not supposed to go.

      And I welcome it. Seriously, I'd rather have this be a well formed completely open standard in CSS and allow the creative types a way to vent and put tattoo or gothic or whatever font all over their page. At least I won't need a plugin. At least it won't be in some weird .swf file. At least the browser will be able to show you something if you don't have the ability/desire to render it.

      I'm not going to start using this until everything's ironed out and your average web surfer finds it not only acceptable but desirable. But I still am excited that CSS and HTML are meeting needs. With IE6 soon dead, they are liberated.

      People will abuse the tools you give them. If you don't believe me, go visit the graveyard that is Geocities. Doesn't stop the rest of us from using the tools in the way they were meant to be used. You might have an argument about this exacerbating the issue with these latest tools but I've always been one to promote unbridled liberation on the web.

    • One of the concepts behind CSS is to abstract content from how it is presented. But one of the objectives behind this is to make presentations more self consistent. You change one css rule and all the logical kinds of content it applies to all change. this facilitiates accessibility and comprehension of a documents logical layout by the reader.

      presumably the latter desiderata is the real goal, not pretty looking documents.

      given that, there is a large benefit to users if web pages look a lot alike. it p

      • Re:The new BLINK (Score:5, Interesting)

        by Serious Callers Only ( 1022605 ) on Thursday July 16, 2009 @10:25AM (#28716413)

        You change one css[sic] rule and all the logical kinds of content it applies to all change. [sic]this facilitiates[sic] accessibility and comprehension of a documents[sic] logical layout by the reader. [sic]presumably the latter desiderata is the real goal, not pretty looking documents. [sic]given that, there is a large benefit to users if web pages look a lot alike. it puts less burden on the end user to decipher the page and access it's[sic] content if qualtiatively[sic] different authors web pages dont[sic] differ from each other in too many ways.

        CSS is meant to ensure that styles within a site are consistent and logical (though it still has many shortcomings in that regard), not to make sites across the web somehow conform to the same set of styles.

        Designers use CSS to define the look of their page, and set the font, which affects (sometimes dramatically), the reader's perception and comprehension of the written content. If you view the look of the page as somehow completely separated from the style in which it is presented, you are falling into an old trap which holds that content is not at all affected by the form in which it is presented, that the medium does not affect the message. And if you think the only reason for changing fonts is 'pretty looking documents', you've misunderstood the function of typography.

        You don't have to be a font nerd to decry the appalling typography that passes for acceptable on the web (which you are claiming is some sort of standard we should all adhere to), the lack of subtlety in the default fonts chosen and typography available, and the general philistinism which holds that online typography has nothing to learn from older uses of type and CSS 2.1 is good enough for everyone.

        PS For someone who's so hot on accessibility and comprehension, you don't seem very keen on using the cues provided by the English language to improve comprehension (i.e. punctuation and capital letters).

      • by Nerdposeur ( 910128 ) on Thursday July 16, 2009 @11:11AM (#28717179) Journal

        I know some css nerds will tell me if I feel that way I should use my own css. first off I don't have time for that. second, it's likely if I mess with CSS on an overly tuned web page i;ll make it less readable not more.

        I still think this can only improve your situation. As you said, you can use your own CSS, or none at all (in FireFox: View > Page Style > No Style). You may be too lazy to change it, but at least you'll have the option.

        People already use non-standard fonts on web pages. They just use images or Flash or whatever, which gives the user zero control over appearance.

        Additional benefits: since these wacky fonts will be sent as actual text, you'll still be able to Control+F search them, resize them, index them with a search engine, or have them read to you if you're blind.

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by noundi ( 1044080 )
      It was an example and as history tells us (such as the implementation of jpeg/gif) we already know things like this can be abused. What you're missing is that people essentially don't want their web pages to look shitty. They just didn't know it back then.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      Firefox has a checkbox in Tools -> Options -> Content -> Fonts and Colors -> Advanced to disable this, if you so desire.
      • Re:Oh Lord! (Score:5, Interesting)

        by Canazza ( 1428553 ) on Thursday July 16, 2009 @10:22AM (#28716381)

        the only option I can find that would resemble what you're saying disables ALL font rendering other than the fonts you've chosen above (IE, ones you already have on your system). I tested it with a custom page, using Georgia, and it displayed it as Arial. When I reenabled the box it rendered properly.

        AFAIK there is no option to stop fonts from being downloaded, and unchecking this option may not stop them being downloaded at all

    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by wisnoskij ( 1206448 )
      looked horrible on mine to.
      Now not only will we have to worry about horrible colors and sizes but styles as well.
      Not that this is a bad feature to have, but it will probably cause more bad then good.
    • by Aladrin ( 926209 )

      That's okay, Safari crashed for me... Twice. I got to see a couple of the fonts before it went, though. And yeah, they were ugly.

      • by Aladrin ( 926209 )

        Opera 10 did a lot better job, though. It loaded the page without the fonts, then loaded the fonts as it could. (Still hate the fonts.)

        Safari didn't show anything where the missing fonts were, then showed them as they loaded, and then crashed.

  • font of knowledge (Score:5, Interesting)

    by jollyreaper ( 513215 ) on Thursday July 16, 2009 @09:48AM (#28715923)

    I've been waiting for something like this for a while. When I first got into web stuff I was struck by the vast difference between web layout and print layout. Yes, I understand the point about pixel-perfect control being a shackle and how web is supposed to have the flexibility of displaying on different hardware, different browsers, anything from a PDA to a 24" graphic designer screen. I've been bitten by websites that were so strickly formatted that they were unusable outside of their expected use. That being said, I still wanted embeddable fonts. Nice to see we have them now.

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by mcgrew ( 92797 )

      I'm a minimalist. Do what you like on your site, but IMO if you need fancy fonts your site probably sucks. like the old saying, it's the content. Like women, most pretty web sites are useless.

      • Pretty is ok. The problem is that this stuff is usually the opposite. Why do I need a bunch of different fonts other than the one I prefer to read pages in again? Another example: serif is better for print, sans is better for crt/lcd displays.

      • by Abreu ( 173023 )

        As always, McGrew, it depends on who is doing it...

        I have seen printed documents (books, brochures, posters) that are a marvel of simple but powerful graphic design and typography.

        I have also seen printed documents that look like a ten year old with MS Paint made them

        When graphic design is done right, you almost don't even notice it is there.

        When it is done wrong... Well, the goggles do nothing

        It is like reading the TeX source code and then reading a Visual Basic App made by a teenager

        The thing is, web desi

      • Typefaces can define things in a story that mere words sometimes can't. Comic books prove to be an excellent example of this. Take this page from the (admittedly now insane but once genius) Dave Sim's Cerebus- []

        As you can see, the way the text looks is as important to understanding what the character is trying to say as what that character is saying.

        To be fair, this is not something that works with every single document on the planet, but i
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Helios1182 ( 629010 )

        Yes, ultimately it is about the content, but that doesn't mean presentation isn't important. If you were to take the same document, but render it in Word and LaTeX you would probably see a huge difference. The LaTeX version just looks better and is easier on the eyes. If it weren't important, we would still be using fixed width fonts and 80 character wide pages -- the content is the same.

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by mcgrew ( 92797 )

          If your content takes longer to load, you've degraded your content. This might be good for some pages, but for most it won't, and web designers seem to care more about how the page looks than what it's there for. 99% of the time this is used it will be used badly.

  • by verbalcontract ( 909922 ) on Thursday July 16, 2009 @09:49AM (#28715939)

    I was under the impression that no version of IE supported @font-face?

    • by HappyHead ( 11389 ) on Thursday July 16, 2009 @10:17AM (#28716335)
      Actually, it does support @font-face, just not with standard font files. Microsoft's reason for this was because some people make TrueType font files and put them under copywrite,and they felt that allowing the use of .ttf files for font distribution would enable copywrite violations. Instead, you have to use a Microsoft utility to convert the font files into a special Microsoft font format for web pages called EOT - which doesn't actually solve the stated problem, but does make it difficult for anyone else to use the font file for things other than embedding in web pages that will be viewed with IE after you've put it on your website. []

    • by kimvette ( 919543 ) on Thursday July 16, 2009 @10:25AM (#28716417) Homepage Journal

      It's time to bring back the "get firefox" banners and link buttons on web sites, with a little blurb like this:

      "Does this site look lousy in your browser? It's because of that abusive monopolist company Microsoft ignoring the standards everyone else in the Universe follows, all while claiming to embrace those standards. Upgrade to Firefox, Safari, or Opera now to get a browser which actually adheres to those standards."

    • I guess IE users will have to be happy with Georgia then. I see no reason IE should hold everyone else back, and @font-face is an awful lot better than the proposed MS alternative or the TypeKit solution in search of a problem mentioned in the ArsTechnica article.

      The only downside to it is that foundries are dragging their feet trying to pretend that the font licenses are only for paper. Plenty of younger designers are not so blinkered though.

    • by elrous0 ( 869638 ) *

      And that is pretty much a deal breaker for any real world web designer.

      Great idea, though. I hope MS implements it in future versions of IE.

      • by Ilgaz ( 86384 ) on Thursday July 16, 2009 @11:08AM (#28717143) Homepage

        This is exactly how Microsoft can stop progress of web and in fact, the entire progress in computer/software industry.

        Once they don't support something or support it in a way that is impossible to implement in other platforms, that thing is dead.

        Don't hold your breath for them to support a multi platform way of doing things. That is how every webmaster ended up using Flash for drop down menus and also the reason why they hate Flash enough to ship a 'me too' joke.

  • For html (webpages) is considered has a bad idea to use the latest technology (with something like CSS as a exception, because was a *HUGE* upgrade).

    You write pages that are compatible with standards, that don't break in the mayor browser (firefox and.. *sight* IE), but you have to avoid nice CSS3 features, that are not well supported (like css '3 colums' type of align).

    Embeded font is there. Is unusable for a long period of time, maybe 5, maybe 10 years. Once the old browsers are forgothen and the new brow

    • On the plus side, font support is probably easier than a lot of advanced CSS features to degrade with at least modest grace. As long as you stick to typefaces that make your text largely the same size as use of one of the old, safe, typefaces would.

      Also, I'm strongly suspecting that all the Mac oriented sites will be all over this one pretty quickly. IE isn't an issue, and typography and design subtleties are the sort of thing that really get them worked up.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by asdf7890 ( 1518587 )

      Embeded font is there. Is unusable for a long period of time, maybe 5, maybe 10 years. Once the old browsers are forgothen and the new browsers dominate.

      As long as your design degrades gracefully in browsers that don't support the new bells and whistles there is no problem using the latest and greatest. I don't see a problem from the user's point-of-view with giving people with the newest browser your "best" look and people with older browsers the "good enough" look.

      Of course this may introduce a technical problem for you the designer because you might need to be extra careful to make sure you test that the design does indeed degrade gracefully - but that i

  • Now instead of quickly rendered and clearly legible standard fonts, web pages will be burdened with additional downloads, rendering changes, and shitty shitty script and graffiti fonts. I'd like to turn this functionality off, please, and prevent my browser from wasting bandwidth on downloading these fonts... Haven't there also been font-based exploits? No thanks!
    • MS Comic Sans to the rescue! WAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by chord.wav ( 599850 )

      Oh C'Mon. It isn't that bad. Do you prefer Flash-laden sites?...I thought so.

      At least with this option you will be able to:
      1-Copy any rendered text
      2-Download/view the source
      3-Change the fonts for your viewing pleasure or prevent downloading them (with a little help of greasemonkey)

      Exploits are an issue but they'll get fixed. Same concerns arouse with Flash, Java, etc and they are all still there.

      • Or, for sites you visit frequently (assuming you frequently visit sites designed by people with no taste), just add a line to your user CSS file to override the ugly fonts.
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Opportunist ( 166417 )

      Did you think you got those fat pipes to download more porn? You got it so webpages can be even more cluttered, bloated and web designers even more careless when loading their pages with useless junk.

      It's a bit like machines getting faster so programmers don't have to optimize code.

    • Assuming there isn't something relevant buried in about:config, you should be able to use greasemonkey to strip any @font-face stuff from the CSS...
    • by Zocalo ( 252965 ) on Thursday July 16, 2009 @09:55AM (#28716039) Homepage
      "Comic Sans" would be nice, just for a change...

      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by zwei2stein ( 782480 )

        Once this hits mainstream, you will be *wishing* for Comic Sans when entering new site and waiting for font to load. And papyrus would be godsend which you will celebrate by writing email to webmaster and thanking him.

    • How about Helvetica instead of the cheap Microsoft* knock-off?


      *Okay, yes, it's Monotype, but popularized by Microsoft's inclusion as a TTF.

      • by Knuckles ( 8964 )

        How about it? You pay my license fees for it?

      • by Ilgaz ( 86384 )

        While we Mac users say same thing for years, we ended up paying to Arial and friends.

        How? Apple ended up licensing the knock off version family from MS. Each Leopard install/upgrade includes them now.

    • by CarpetShark ( 865376 ) on Thursday July 16, 2009 @10:03AM (#28716159)

      Yes, we do need more fonts, but we need semantic ones. This is the entirely wrong way to go about it.

      As anyone who's looked at their (good) browser's settings knows, the web supports standard "semantic" or functional font specifications, like sans, sans-serif, and cursive. You can assign these to things like Arial, Times, and Isabella or whatever cursive font you want.

      The web page in the example really has no place specifying the exact font which should be used, as people with visual impairments, people with low-res portable devices, or people whose native language isn't based on a latin script, might have extreme difficulty reading it. However, if you specify that the title is to be in a cursive font, then browsers could simply ship with nice cursive font settings by default. This would allow pages to look good in the device in question, but also be fully configurable --- including for those art-nuts who care to pay to have the very best of fonts and displays.

      However, the idea has not been taken far enough. Besides sans, sans-serif, and cursive, we could use lots of extra "semantic" font names like fantasy, futuristic, etc.

    • I for one would find it very useful, for embedding things like sexagesimal numerals, e.g [] right now uses an aging wordpress plugin to display sexagesimal.ttf glyphs. Being able to embed "@font=sexagesimal.ttf" (or whatever the syntax is) would be very handy, but not if we're forced to convert our ttfs to Microsoft's worthless alternative format.

      As for Microsoft's pathetic excuse that someone, somewhere might violate a copyright at some

  • Hopefully, this will be another nail in the Flash coffin. Now, if they could agree on a codec for the video tag this would be a great year for the web.

    • I'd love to see flash go away since I don't like having to run executables just to present content.

      But I'm wondering here if fonts contain executables. I know emprically, that putting in some font packages in my computer also puts in some DLLs or runs some executables. I've never been quite clear if fonts necessarily are always simply data that describes the font face or if the specification of the font can optionally contain executable in how it gets rendered.

      if so then will that be the case here as well

  • Hold on a sec... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Opportunist ( 166417 ) on Thursday July 16, 2009 @09:54AM (#28716021)

    Now, I don't know much about CSS. I'm more the "local" person in our security team (as compared to the "remote" gurus sitting some good distance from me. Yes, go ahead, make your jokes). But ... something that downloads something from the internet and pushes it through a browser without asking anyone human first looks a wee bit problematic for me.

    Could anyone gimme a hint before I get off my rear and haul the same over those maybe even 30 feet to our remote gurus, so I won't look stupid when I suggest that problem to them?

    • "something that downloads something from the internet and pushes it through a browser without asking" is indeed a wee bit problematic, which is why browser security is a bit of an arms race. However, that description would apply just as neatly to HTML, images, scripts, embedded objects, and every other aspect of a web page. If you want to render a webpage, you have to pull stuff off a not-all-that-trusted server and let the browser chew on it, no other way to do it(well, you could ask the human about every
    • by ZackSchil ( 560462 ) on Thursday July 16, 2009 @10:20AM (#28716357)
      What, like images, video, or plugin content like Flash games?

      Of course there are security risks. And if this tech uses system font APIs, interfaces not normally subjected to the same security scrutiny as those of, say, images, then there will need to be some security code auditing.

      I'm certain there will be a few exploit events before the situation settles down. But we can't stop the progress of useful functionality just because there might be some unknown security flaw. This an isn't ActiveX situation. Fonts do not contain executable code. A perfectly secure font reader should be relatively easy to write.
    • It's just another form of graphics. You don't make a fuss over the image tag do you?
    • by Hurricane78 ( 562437 ) <deleted.slashdot@org> on Thursday July 16, 2009 @10:37AM (#28716583)

      Well, how do you think those HTML pages, CSS sheets, JS files, images, and plugin files (flash,java,etc) work?

      Download -> run trough interpreter -> render output

      It depends on the interpreter. And I say that one is the same for any font, and therefore you could also use maybe an obscure Unicode character to wreak havoc in the interpreter. No matter what font it is.

      Somehow I have the feeling that you do not understand how web pages work.

  • by Drakkenmensch ( 1255800 ) on Thursday July 16, 2009 @09:54AM (#28716023)
    ... how long before some hack turns this into an exploit for new self-installing viruses?
    • again it's a race between hackers and browser developers... Same thing happened to HTTP, HTML, Javascript, etc...

      There is always a risk when processing any data from the net. It's impossible to make something that is 100% secure. But when something gains popularity and is being depended on heavily, the effort going into the implementation will naturally grow and the security will improve.

    • by Ilgaz ( 86384 )

      I wondered about it for years. Why antivirus apps put special interest in TTF files while doing a full system scan? I remember as early as F-Prot for DOS.

      Don't tell me that TTF can include executable in some form? It sounds stupid but you know, CHM files can actually carry viruses and execute them.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by mellon ( 7048 )

      Probably a while. But it will probably happen. Broken font rendering implementations are widespread - you can completely hose MacOS if you load a font with bogus data in it. Chances are there's a way to turn that into an exploit, but nobody's bothered in the past because there's no easy way to stuff a font down the computer's throat over the internet.

    • You mean other than trough the much more complex interpreters of Flash, Java and Quicktime?

      It's shocking how many people here don't know that everything on a web page is "self downloading" (or more correct: telling the browser that it needs that file to do something, and the browser knowing how to handle it.)

      And then the next day, the go and download a crack off of some random site, unrar it and run the exe as if it were the most normal thing in the world.

  • Fonts (Score:2, Insightful)

    by ledow ( 319597 )

    Licensing? Nightmare.
    Bandwidth? Eek.
    Security? Whoa!
    Compatibility? Doesn't downgrade nicely (that page looks horrible in a "stable" browser of today and is almost unreadable)
    Gains? Geocities-like webpages that use every font they can just for the sake of it. Seven million websites written in Comic Sans. And only the sensible browsers will come with options to turn the damn thing off (and thus look even worse).

    Stupid idea, stupid execution (having to DOWNLOAD every font mentioned on a page?)

    • by eht ( 8912 )

      Don't worry, it is unreadable in Firefox 3.5 also.

    • Re:Fonts (Score:5, Insightful)

      by suggsjc ( 726146 ) on Thursday July 16, 2009 @10:57AM (#28716959) Homepage

      Wow, somebody is grumpy...and ill informed.

      Licensing? Resolvable. No different than "copyrighted" images and the licensing for them. Honest developers will use properly licensed material (fonts, images, etc), dishonest or uninformed developers won't care.
      Bandwidth? At 50-100k they are not that much compared to swf files or large images previously used (also, you can cache them)
      Security? Security patches will come as they arise. How is this different than any other "potential for abuse"?
      Compatibility? Does degrade nicely, you can specify the web fonts but fall back to "traditional" fonts
      Gains? Designers will have flexibility! They won't have to rely on images to produce "nice fonts" and the pages can be more semantic (text > images). This is just a few of the potential gains.

      Do you really want to hold back progress because YOU think something is stupid and YOU would prefer no styling at all just standard html? Also, you do not have to "DOWNLOAD every font mentioned on a page", just the ones you want to specify, so get your facts straight before you jump to irrational conclusions. Get your morning coffee, relax and realize that this is progress even if you don't see the benefit in the implementation/execution.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday July 16, 2009 @09:57AM (#28716063)
    ... and web browsers can easily be set to ignore.

    The average "Web developer" knows nothing about type, and thinks "kearning" is something you do to corn on the cob. Read a whole essay in Trainwreck Bold Oblique? No thanks.

  • Once again, the form versus function debate ...
    Apparently, there are some out there who feel that words alone are not enough; they need a particular font to convey emotion or a particular feel.
    I just hope that any browser that supports this makes it optional, and I can turn off the downloading altogether.
    Maybe I'm just paranoid, but it sounds like it's a great candidate for some security exploits.

  • by GeekDork ( 194851 ) on Thursday July 16, 2009 @10:03AM (#28716149)

    In about:config, set gfx.downloadable_fonts.enabled to false and restart the browser.

  • It's like Type3 fonts in Postscript. Just make a custom font with the glyphs permutated a bit, transform the text accordingly, and hey presto, copy is worthless. Or how about having complete paaragraphs or pages in a single glyph?

    • I presume that was a joke.

      Just in case anyone else didn't get it, permuting the text or combining characters into single glyphs would completely break the page for any browser not supporting @font-face. It would be like replacing text with bitmaps and not supplying alt text.

      Omitting all glyphs not actually used on the page would be fine. Except it would become a maintenance nightmare when the text of the page is changed...

      • It's not a joke. However, since IE doesn't seem to support it, we're unlikely to see custom fonts being abused that way.

    • That's a clever thought. But how long would it take to write a program that figures out how to decode your permutation using a dictionary? And if you're doing anything more complicated than one-for-one substitution, you're basically back to what can already be done with flash, graphics, etc.

  • Wasn't this already possible years ago? I seem to remember seeing LOTS about it back in 2001 or so, including way too complex issues like how to encode the data, and how many glyphs could be included due to licensing restrictions. It was my understanding that people simply ignored it because it was a crap (and overcomplicated) idea.

    • by argent ( 18001 )

      I remember seeing a proposal for something like this: it was some kind of complex copy-protection-ridden cruft that forced you to run a magic DRM checksum generator over your document to authenticate it to your font server, and to rebuild some font server file every time you updated the document.

    • by Ilgaz ( 86384 )

      2001? Even earlier. Both Netscape 4 and IE 4 had their own technologies to embed fonts. IE was directly downloading ttf files and Netscape had a more cross platform solution.

      Result? Nobody cared. Even "best viewed in" fanatics didn't use the technologies offered.

      It is more like Symbian OS or OS X or even Windows. You can actually change the UI font but nobody cares enough. Price is another matter, a good font is designed in years by a single person. Font is way more complex form of art than anyone can imagi

  • I have no problem with this as long as I can continue to override the font selection and minimum size to something I want.

    That, by the way, is great, and more people should try it. Every web page is consistent because every page has the same, easy-to-read type, with a minimum size that puts no strain on my eyes. And very, very few sites break if you do this now that most use CSS - I haven't actually encountered a sites that breaks in a long time. Add adblock and flashblock, and you have a very clean, consis

  • Web pages... (Score:2, Flamebait)

    by Bootarn ( 970788 )

    ...are just a way of sharing information. I think the <video> tag is a great idea, since it moves towards a standardised way to view videos on a page. Even though it's video, it's still information.

    This, however, is not a clever way of "enhancing" web pages. We have the information we need, and we're satisfied. No need to put bells and whistles on it. If it were up to me (which it isn't), there would be no such thing as "web design". Web pages are not a fashion show, they're just means of sharing, di

    • Who says web pages aren't a fashion show? Maybe that's exactly what some are. Some web pages might be about being beautiful, or conveying a certain style. Proclaiming that WEB PAGES ARE ONLY ABOUT INFORMATION END OF DISCUSSION is a very... ahem... nerdy point of view. Myopic, in my opinion. We are not information consuming machines. We might care about things like aesthetics, which is a good thing!

  • The sample page looks great, in Firefox 3.5 and Safari 4 anyway. Those dingbats don't look particularly good, but I don't know if that's what the font itself looks like or if they aren't rendering properly. The page does take a bit longer to load, but once it's loaded I don't see problems.

    I recall back in college, over 10 years ago now, hearing about custom web fonts. I even played with it a few times, but that went out the window when the type foundries all freaked out. It certainly is encouraging not to h

    • by argent ( 18001 )

      If you thought MySpace pages looked like crap, wait until people start using crazy, illegible fonts.

      Ransom Note is a perfectly cromulent font!

  • At least my browser still respects "ignore site fonts and use those I specify". I guess this mess is progress?

  • typekit (Score:3, Interesting)

    by macshit ( 157376 ) <.snogglethorpe. .at.> on Thursday July 16, 2009 @10:16AM (#28716319) Homepage

    So what's the deal with "typekit"?

    Their blog [] grandly announces (or at least strongly implies) that they've solved the licensing/theft/etc problems with downloadable fonts, without using DRM, but while there's a lot of handwaving, they don't actually seem to go into any detail about how they've "solved" it.

    Does anybody know?

  • ...can now bugger up pages in even more ways that will make them hard to read and cause them to render incorrectly for those of us who cannot read 2 point type.

    Not to mention even slower to load.

  • by Karellen ( 104380 ) on Thursday July 16, 2009 @10:26AM (#28716425) Homepage


    Why is font licensing any different from image licensing? The page directs you to (optionally) download font information. Your computer either does or does not. If it does, it uses the font information to render something on the page. As the server gave you this information when your computer asked for it, you legitimately have a copy. However, you are not allowed to redistribute this copy to a third party unless you have a license to do so, else you are in breach of copyright.

    It's just a bunch more bits that you've downloaded off of a server. How are these bits any different from any other bits?

    (Is there a missing href in the story?)

  • What was the tech used to convert photos to black and white pseudo-pen-and-ink pictures used on that page for the author's pictures?
  • by Ralph Spoilsport ( 673134 ) on Thursday July 16, 2009 @10:29AM (#28716467) Journal
    a high quality typeface is hard to make.

    I should know - I used to do it for a living. However, they are easily stolen, and fonts that once cost serious bucks are now (essentially) free. Which is why I don't do it for a living anymore. But I'm not discussing that - what I am pointing at is if you can embed fonts in a page, it is a trivial exercise to open a font, "clean" the points (creating a new drawing of the font), and then export the thing with a new name. So, you could take Arial, fry it up, and come out with Ariel. Now someone might notice something fishy about Ariel, noting it similarity to Arial. In the USA, the DESIGN of a font is something you cannot copyright. Only the software that is the font file itself. This is what torpedoed the type industry back in the mid 1990s, in Adobe vs SSI (?) case in Florida.

    Sure, SSI got sued by Adobe for this, but that was pre-www - back in the day of centralised font distribution systems on floppies or CDs. MS or Adobe would have to chase down thousands of people with take-down notices. The FROEI (financial return on energy invested) would be microscopic and an endless battle due to variations in international laws.

    Another strategy would be DRM. This would work on new DRM fonts, but there are literally tens of thousands of older fonts (from ancient PostScript to TrueType to newer OpenType) that are not DRM'd and they would be all over the place, effectively smothering any DRM font system.

    Flash was developed initially as an animation system, but quickly it became obvious that it opened up font use, even if the test is not animated. Flash has its own and deeply obvious problems, and I look forward to its death. That said, at the time it served a useful purpose. With AJAX and now font-face, I don't see much future for Flash at all, outside of its original use as an animation engine.

    I'm of mixed feelings on this - as I noted, a good font is hard to make. However, the basic digital fonts were developed way back in the 1980s and early 1990s and have only been updated for new technology (unicode, opentype, etc.) and one would think that there is little point to grinding more and more out of them, except in terms of petty greed. If Adobe had their way, we never would have seen TrueType and you would have to pay $100 for every typeface and each would have to be installed on only your machine. Of course, it would look very good. If MS had their way, everything would be TrueType and you could only use the fonts that come installed with the OS, and any extra would be excluded at the OS level... and they would all suck. So, the piracy of the 1990s (fueled by the ancient Titan and venerable program, Fontographer) led to an explosion of fonts. Most of them craptastic, but a true example of digital creativity. Some/Many were obvious rip-offs, but their hinting was often crap - delta hints were almost always missing, their letterspacing worse, and the kerning either atrocious or non-existent.

    Tools, including Fontographer (resurrected by FontLab, bless their hearts) have improved since 1993, and so have "amateur" fonts. However, the market for fonts is still very poor as the saturation level increases daily.

    Net result? If MS adopts @font-face for IE, game over (in a good way), and we will see a flowering of online type design. If MS drags its heels on this, @font-face could die on the vine, and we'll be stuck with Arial, for a VERY long time.

    So, here's hoping @font-face spreads like crazy, and we can finally get some decent looking pages going...


    • Oh - and I realise that MSIE and Opera "support" it but I haven't seen them actually work doing it, so I am skeptical about MS actually "making it happen". I am more than willing to be pleasantly surprised.
  • ... it goes like this: "it's as useful as a goiter". Sums it up quite well, I think.
  • I don't get this (Score:3, Insightful)

    by mzs ( 595629 ) on Thursday July 16, 2009 @10:44AM (#28716733)

    In the '80s those of us not using English had a real problem with fonts in that we had no uniform way of having what we wrote appear on a screen or printer. I remember embedding printer control escape sequences that would back the print head up and then print a slash or tick over what was there so people could understand what letter it was. But even back then people were complaining about not having fancy fonts when there was this real problem. Remember font cartridges for printers?

    Now the real problem is largely solved but these font weenies are still coming-up with crazy schemes to make text look a certain particular way and it is pretty ridiculous the amount of effort that has been spent over the years on this with schemes that end-up only working for a few short years before something new shows-up on the horizone when for the most part electronic text is about information rather than the appearance. Don't try and tell me that this is simple until you look up EOT.

The party adjourned to a hot tub, yes. Fully clothed, I might add. -- IBM employee, testifying in California State Supreme Court