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Typography On the Web Gets Different

CmdrTaco posted more than 5 years ago | from the but-i-miss-comic-sans dept.

Graphics 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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Frosty Piss (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28715911)

Prosty Fiss

Oh Lord! (5, Insightful)

fidget42 (538823) | more than 5 years ago | (#28715919)

That page looked terrible on my PC (with FireFox 3.5)! I can easily see this getting abused.

Re:Oh Lord! (3, Insightful)

Diabolus Advocatus (1067604) | more than 5 years ago | (#28716105)

Anything is better than yellow Comic Sans on a purple background!

Re:Oh Lord! (3, Funny)

Yvan256 (722131) | more than 5 years ago | (#28716195)

Oh come on, yellow Comic Sans on a purple background can't be that ba-ARGH! The goggles! They do nothing!

Abused but Necessary (5, Insightful)

eldavojohn (898314) | more than 5 years ago | (#28716113)

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.

The new BLINK (1)

goombah99 (560566) | more than 5 years ago | (#28716117)

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 puts less burden on the end user to decipher the page and access it's content if qualtiatively different authors web pages dont differ from each other in too many ways.

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.

SO the problem with this is not that it's a perfectly awful idea but that like blink, if you include this as an easy to use feature it will get abused to death and in aggregate crapify the web.

get off my lawn.

Re:The new BLINK (4, Interesting)

Serious Callers Only (1022605) | more than 5 years ago | (#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).

Re:Oh Lord! (2, Funny)

noundi (1044080) | more than 5 years ago | (#28716237)

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:Oh Lord! (3, Informative)

DanTheStone (1212500) | more than 5 years ago | (#28716261)

Firefox has a checkbox in Tools -> Options -> Content -> Fonts and Colors -> Advanced to disable this, if you so desire.

Re:Oh Lord! (4, Interesting)

Canazza (1428553) | more than 5 years ago | (#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:Oh Lord! (2, Interesting)

wisnoskij (1206448) | more than 5 years ago | (#28716369)

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.

font of knowledge (4, Interesting)

jollyreaper (513215) | more than 5 years ago | (#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:font of knowledge (2, Funny)

mcgrew (92797) | more than 5 years ago | (#28716161)

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.

Re:font of knowledge (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28716365)

You sound fat.

Re:font of knowledge (1)

SCHecklerX (229973) | more than 5 years ago | (#28716475)

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.

IE doesn't support font-face (4, Informative)

verbalcontract (909922) | more than 5 years ago | (#28715939)

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

Re:IE doesn't support font-face (4, Informative)

HappyHead (11389) | more than 5 years ago | (#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. []

Re:IE doesn't support font-face (3, Insightful)

kimvette (919543) | more than 5 years ago | (#28716417)

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."

Re:IE doesn't support font-face (1)

Serious Callers Only (1022605) | more than 5 years ago | (#28716461)

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.

cutting edge considerd harmfull (1)

Tei (520358) | more than 5 years ago | (#28715963)

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 browsers dominate.

Re:cutting edge considerd harmfull (1)

Diabolus Advocatus (1067604) | more than 5 years ago | (#28716151)

Well that all depends on your target market huh?

Just remember that if you're building a golf site then stick to IE6 compatibility for the corporate users or you exclude practically your whole market.

Re:cutting edge considerd harmfull (1)

maxwell demon (590494) | more than 5 years ago | (#28716221)

If embedded fonts are really only used to change the way letters look like, as opposed to (mis-)using a font to map characters to completely different symbols, then it doesn't really hurt if the browser doesn't support the font. You'll just see a default font instead.

Re:cutting edge considerd harmfull (1)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | more than 5 years ago | (#28716257)

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.

"considerd harmfull" considerd harmful (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28716359)

First off, CSS is not the "latest technology" by any means. Limited support for CSS appeared as early as IE3 and Netscape 4.x, and by the time IE5 was released, all of its contemporaries (Opera et al) had some kind of CSS implementation. Sure it was inconsistent across browsers and a bit buggy, but it was a hell of a lot better than font tags.

Secondly, the advantage of CSS, if used correctly, is that bleeding edge features that are not available on all browsers at least have a way of degrading gracefully. Sure, one browser out there can't import your whiz-bang new font right now, but if it degrades to the next best thing and does not suffer with usability, then I don't see why you should "have to avoid" these features.

CSS is well over 10 years old now. Sure, CSS2 came along a couple of years after CSS1, and they're just now starting to agree on CSS2.1 and CSS3. By 2005, most web development classes and best practices on the job stated that font tags were going the way of the dodo bird and to start using CSS. If we went by your schedule of "don't even think about using it until 5 or 10 years after it's released" we'd still be using font tags.

Re:"considerd harmfull" considerd harmful (1)

FredFredrickson (1177871) | more than 5 years ago | (#28716563)

I'm annoyed they just forget opera exists. Opera's been doing this for a while now, folks. Stop discrediting it.

Re:cutting edge considerd harmfull (2, Insightful)

asdf7890 (1518587) | more than 5 years ago | (#28716391)

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 is the price you pay for playing close to the bleeding edge.

I can see this being *very* irritating if certain PHBs and corporate branding people catch wind of the new feature. First they'll demand to have the corporate font used for all pages, will be told that it will look different on older browsers (which they'll say "fine" to without actually taking in what is being said). Then a couple of weeks later they'll visit the site on Aunt Betty's old machine with IE6 and FF1.5 and demand that the site should look the same on all, and we'll be back to having sites that use images (or proprietary plugins) for all text just to get the fonts right...

licensing issues for fonts (1)

dysmey (1165035) | more than 5 years ago | (#28715971)

There was an Ars Technica article that discusses font licensing issues and how they would pour ice water on the potential for @font-face:

Until those issues are resolved, don't expect @font-face to make the Web more than bland.

Re:licensing issues for fonts (4, Interesting)

WillAdams (45638) | more than 5 years ago | (#28716073)


We had to switch from Linotype's Zapfino Extra to Adobe's Caflisch Script in a custom story book project 'cause Linotype wanted _thousands_ of dollars per _year_ to license the (already purchased) font for on-line PDF Previewing usage.

There are of course opensource / creative commons fonts, those can be used, but if everyone is using them, that kind of defeats the whole point of changing the typeface. Also, I haven't seen an opensource typeface that has the kind of hinting effort Georgia, Times New Roman, Arial &c. have (TNR in particular has man _years_ worth of effort in it) --- unfortunately we haven't gotten to the screen density which would allow us to dispense w/ hinting.


Re:licensing issues for fonts (1)

Opportunist (166417) | more than 5 years ago | (#28716095)

You mean I can still use the web for a while before I have to bleach my eyeballs? Because one thing is certain, when this becomes mainstream I won't be able to open every other webpage without puking all over it because it insists in using cutsie-unique fonts that you need a cryptography degree for to even make out what those pseudo-kawaii letters are supposed to say.

Essentially, this is the 2.0 version of magenta-on-blue-on-colorful-wallpaper webpages we learned to love during the beginning of the age when the net hit the masses. What happened to "deliver hyperlinked content in an easy to browse and file way"?

Re:licensing issues for fonts (2, Interesting)

maxume (22995) | more than 5 years ago | (#28716107)

What licensing issues?

That some people want to be paid for their work is not an issue. That people can use unlicensed fonts isn't really any different than today (I suppose font designers might be a bit less happy with a solution that is promiscuous with their precious data).

An easy workaround would be for someone like the Mozilla foundation to spend a few million dollars making sure that a decent variety of fonts were available under liberal licenses. They may not feel like it, but they could certainly afford it, and if a few million dollars isn't enough to generate a couple of dozen decent fonts, I would be pretty surprised. Amusingly, Microsoft felt the need to do something like this a decade ago, and they actually did it.

Oh the agony... (2, Insightful)

GigaHurtsMyRobot (1143329) | more than 5 years ago | (#28715973)

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!

Re:Oh the agony... (1)

phoenix321 (734987) | more than 5 years ago | (#28716121)

MS Comic Sans to the rescue! WAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA

Re:Oh the agony... (2, Insightful)

chord.wav (599850) | more than 5 years ago | (#28716167)

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.

Re:Oh the agony... (1, Insightful)

Opportunist (166417) | more than 5 years ago | (#28716179)

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.

Re:Oh the agony... (1)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | more than 5 years ago | (#28716353)

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...

Courier, Arial, Times New Roman (1)

BenEnglishAtHome (449670) | more than 5 years ago | (#28716003)

Do we need any more?

Re:Courier, Arial, Times New Roman (4, Funny)

Zocalo (252965) | more than 5 years ago | (#28716039)

"Comic Sans" would be nice, just for a change...


Re:Courier, Arial, Times New Roman (2, Funny)

zwei2stein (782480) | more than 5 years ago | (#28716315)

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.

Re:Courier, Arial, Times New Roman (0, Redundant)

Chris Mattern (191822) | more than 5 years ago | (#28716069)

You forgot Comic Sans, Papyrus and Copperplate!

Re:Courier, Arial, Times New Roman (1)

pete-classic (75983) | more than 5 years ago | (#28716147)

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


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

Re:Courier, Arial, Times New Roman (1)

Knuckles (8964) | more than 5 years ago | (#28716469)

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

Re:Courier, Arial, Times New Roman (1)

Ilgaz (86384) | more than 5 years ago | (#28716477)

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.

Yes, but we need semantic fonts (3, Interesting)

CarpetShark (865376) | more than 5 years ago | (#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.

Re:Yes, but we need semantic fonts (1)

Mystra_x64 (1108487) | more than 5 years ago | (#28716313)

I think 'fantasy' generic font do exist in CSS spec.

Re:Courier, Arial, Times New Roman (1)

larry bagina (561269) | more than 5 years ago | (#28716487)

Arial is a poor knockoff of Helvetica. Just say no to Microsoft's shitty "me too" garbage.

Kill Flash! (1)

chord.wav (599850) | more than 5 years ago | (#28716019)

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.

do fonts have executables? (1)

goombah99 (560566) | more than 5 years ago | (#28716253)

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?

Re:do fonts have executables? (1)

orta (786013) | more than 5 years ago | (#28716351)

Fonts are just data, essentially just a collection of vectors and in some later ones little bits of parsable code that looks for when you type two letters together to make a combination of the two (ligatures) . Unsure if this is in every browser engine that supports font-face.

Hold on a sec... (2, Interesting)

Opportunist (166417) | more than 5 years ago | (#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?

Re:Hold on a sec... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28716099)

So you browse without images, do you?

Re:Hold on a sec... (1)

Opportunist (166417) | more than 5 years ago | (#28716303)

No, I even browse with JS and Java on. I have to. A lot of exploits don't work when you turn off a thing or two. It's actually amazing how dependent many exploit chains are on having almost any kind of abusable technology turned on. Turn only one of them off, disable JS or iframes, and it doesn't work anymore.

I probably open more malicious and infected pages per day than the average person in a year or two. The difference is that I do it in a VM, and that I try to get infected.

Re:Hold on a sec... (1)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | more than 5 years ago | (#28716177)

"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 element; but that would be damned annoying, and most humans have no useful way of answering the question properly, since malice often isn't obvious).

I suspect that, if there is a large enough group of people who care more about attack surfaces than about fonts, we'll soon see a plugin that screens or blocks @font-face the same way noscript controls scripts, or flashblock controls embeds(heck, you could probably whip something up fairly trivially in Greasemonkey, to substitute untrusted remote fonts for local ones). In the vast majority of cases, though, the risk of making the browser parse yet another file type will be seen as less important than the virtues of pretty pages.

Re:Hold on a sec... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28716255)

img tag?

Re:Hold on a sec... (4, Insightful)

ZackSchil (560462) | more than 5 years ago | (#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.

Re:Hold on a sec... (1)

funkatron (912521) | more than 5 years ago | (#28716517)

It's just another form of graphics. You don't make a fuss over the image tag do you?

Self-downloading fonts... (4, Insightful)

Drakkenmensch (1255800) | more than 5 years ago | (#28716023)

... how long before some hack turns this into an exploit for new self-installing viruses?

Re:Self-downloading fonts... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28716181)

You're late. There is an exploit involving the downloadable font feature in Firefox 3.5 already.

Re:Self-downloading fonts... (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28716263)

Bandwidth? Eek.

having to DOWNLOAD every font mentioned on a page?

Fonts are positively tiny compared to bitmap images of text rendered in the same font, which is what is being used now.

Seven million websites written in Comic Sans.

You can use Comic Sans now, because everybody has it. The new feature allows you to use fonts which are not as commonly installed. If the licensing issues can be solved, this opens the door for high quality typography on the web, instead of the same two fonts in the same two weights everywhere (and bitmaps where the available fonts don't fit. Btw, bitmaps don't adapt to the local rendering rules and scale badly).

Re:Self-downloading fonts... (1)

Joseph Lam (61951) | more than 5 years ago | (#28716531)

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.

Fonts (2, Insightful)

ledow (319597) | more than 5 years ago | (#28716025)

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?)

Re:Fonts (1)

eht (8912) | more than 5 years ago | (#28716205)

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

I smell a new firefox add-on (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28716377)


Re:Fonts (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28716439)

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.

It's a good thing you actually used the word "font" in there - otherwise, I would've thought you'd dug out an old post from the 90s when images were first introduced to HTML.

Re:Fonts (1)

El Tonerino (875866) | more than 5 years ago | (#28716473)

RE: Images

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 image they can just for the sake of it. Seven million websites with pictures of cats. 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 image mentioned on a page?)

I think when you have to cite Geocities as an example, we aren't talking about web design...

One more exploit path (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28716043)

Great. Now bugs in the font rendering engine will lead to remote exploits just by visiting a malicious web page.

Someone should set up a central font repository to make it easier to replace a font with something malicious.

Web developers can now easily embed... (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#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.


Cue new security vulnerabilities in...3..2..1... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28716127)

Yargg! I don't WANT more PRESENTATION oriented stuff in the browser/standards.

Chances are if a web site thinks a font set / size is a good idea, I probably won't like it at all.
My eyes aren't the greatest, and I like to use MY OWN font selections, and LARGE ones,
preferably with a custom / sane color & background scheme too.
Nor do I want more BLOAT making page loads EVEN SLOWER so I can pull down a few hundred K of some random fonts someone thinks are cute but which I find annoying and unreadable.

What's next, embedding PDF files so the sites can have complete control over the rendering?

How about devoting the same amount of attention to, say, something USEFUL like SEMANTIC mark up
and informational SCHEMAs so the user's browser / application can actually easily find the INFORMATION the user wants, and their local browser can figure out how to PRESENT that information according to the USER'S PREFERENCES.

Pet peeve: sites that use formatting so that when you zoom in to the site text, it doesn't just re-wrap to fix into whatever horizontal space you have available, but actually just zooms off the right edge of the screen so you can't use that large of a font size / zoom without also using horizontal scrolling to see what just got shoved past the edge of the screen instead of wrapping to fit as it should. Thanks, slashdot, et. al. Take something that WORKS in "plain simple" HTML and break it with overzealous use of style sheets and enforced "we know what you want better than you do" formatting / layout.

Why do we want remote sites to have even more ability and tendency to load hundreds of K of crap onto our browsers? This can't be a good thing for things like netbooks, kindle, iphone, blackberry, laptops, et. al. where the system default fonts are probably really BEST for that system's unique display size / type. Do things that make the web work BETTER ubiquitously across browsers, platforms, not things that are intended to favor desktop PCs with high res displays and english/latin/western type languages, et. al. and make everything else worse.

...and images. Don't get me started on images (5, Funny)

kriss (4837) | more than 5 years ago | (#28716287)

Yeah, the web went downhill back when they started embedding images in the pages. Who, I mean, who would want to see GRAPHICS in the middle of your CLEAN, SEMANTIC INFORMATION? It doesn't WORK and it's an OUTRAGE!

Font control (2, Funny)

The name is Dave. Ja (845139) | more than 5 years ago | (#28716137)

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.

Uh oh. (1)

DontBlameCanada (1325547) | more than 5 years ago | (#28716141)

I'll be watching ./ for a headline indicating someone found a buffer overrun and managed to turn this into yet another security hole.

You insensitive clod. (1)

thomasdz (178114) | more than 5 years ago | (#28716145)

I use Lynx!
VT100 24 lines by 80 characters (or 132)...the way God intended the web to be seen

To disable @font-face in Firefox 3.5 (5, Informative)

GeekDork (194851) | more than 5 years ago | (#28716149)

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

Re:To disable @font-face in Firefox 3.5 (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28716407)

Thank you. Much better now.

Neat DRM... (1)

GeekDork (194851) | more than 5 years ago | (#28716189)

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?

Re:Neat DRM... (1)

iangoldby (552781) | more than 5 years ago | (#28716455)

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...

Re:Neat DRM... (1)

GeekDork (194851) | more than 5 years ago | (#28716509)

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.

Safari crashed right off (1)

webdog314 (960286) | more than 5 years ago | (#28716207)

Oh boy, this can't be good. I could really see this being used maliciously.

Ancientech? (1)

CarpetShark (865376) | more than 5 years ago | (#28716209)

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.

Re:Ancientech? (1)

argent (18001) | more than 5 years ago | (#28716347)

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.

No problem (1)

JanneM (7445) | more than 5 years ago | (#28716245)

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, consistent surfing experience.

Web pages... (1, Flamebait)

Bootarn (970788) | more than 5 years ago | (#28716247)

...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, displaying and publishing information. Let's keep it that way.

Re:Web pages... (1)

nyctopterus (717502) | more than 5 years ago | (#28716513)

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!

Finally! (1)

MaWeiTao (908546) | more than 5 years ago | (#28716249)

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 have to be dependent on Flash if I want custom fonts, however, I have my reservations. I'll have to see how this works going forward.

The one downside with this ability, however, if that we're going to have people going absolutely nuts with fonts. If you thought MySpace pages looked like crap, wait until people start using crazy, illegible fonts.

Re:Finally! (1)

argent (18001) | more than 5 years ago | (#28716393)

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

Ransom Note is a perfectly cromulent font!

my own CSS (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28716251)

I use my own custom CSS rules to replace the fonts specified by Web developers with my own preferred font (Times New Roman).

ObFontWar (1)

argent (18001) | more than 5 years ago | (#28716375)

You *like* Times New Roman on the screen? Are you mad?

Serif fonts belong on dead trees.

Lovely (1)

SCHecklerX (229973) | more than 5 years ago | (#28716267)

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

IE = No Support (1)

WebmasterNeal (1163683) | more than 5 years ago | (#28716275)

IE does not support the W3C spec for embedding fonts. Like everything else in IE land (see IE Javascript Filters) they have their own proprietary method of embedding fonts.

Not a new thing, really ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28716285)

You were able to do this ten years ago, but it never took off because of the licensing issues with fonts.

You think the RIAA is bad? Font foundries make them look like girl scouts.

typekit (2, Interesting)

macshit (157376) | more than 5 years ago | (#28716319)

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?

Re:typekit (1)

orta (786013) | more than 5 years ago | (#28716427)

One way I've thought of it working is having the font hosted on your server, but hidden behind a php file. so when someone asks for it, it can check the refering website to see if its whitelisted and pass forwards the font data. Otherwise showing blank. It doesn't stop someone whose hardcore on getting it, but it'd be easier for them to grab it of TPB then.

What that means, in brief, is that Web developers (1)

John Hasler (414242) | more than 5 years ago | (#28716423)

...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.

Licensing nightmare? (3, Insightful)

Karellen (104380) | more than 5 years ago | (#28716425)


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?)

Admittedy Off-Topic (1)

afabbro (33948) | more than 5 years ago | (#28716447)

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?

quality is quality, however... (5, Interesting)

Ralph Spoilsport (673134) | more than 5 years ago | (#28716467)

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...


Re:quality is quality, however... (1)

Ralph Spoilsport (673134) | more than 5 years ago | (#28716521)

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.

mod 0p (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28716491)

Uand easy - only

Web pages should let the user select how it looks (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28716495)

Web pages should let the user select how it looks. That's why it was created.
If you want control over the exact layout of a page, use PDF.

As I get older and don't see as well, I love that I can change the size and flow of text on a web page. Web sites that don't let me control that, don't get my eyes.

As a designer, your idea of "kewl" isn't necessarily my idea of "cool" and useful. Seems allowing the end user to control that would be good? Perhaps?

Conflicted (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28716501)

I just don't know how to feel about this.

More DRM in the world == bad.

Less Flash in the world == good.

But *without* DRM, this would give us... more web pages with less content and more "design"... ugh.

Oh, well, anything that keeps those annoying web designers out of *my* face will be fine, I guess.

Doesn't work on Linux (1)

Kickasso (210195) | more than 5 years ago | (#28716527)

All characters are blank.

Slashdotters are happy with their Windows machines, it seems.

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