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Web Open Font Format Gets Backing From Mozilla

ScuttleMonkey posted more than 4 years ago | from the turns-out-open-is-easier-to-adopt dept.

Mozilla 206

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

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aaaaaaaa (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29955646)

First POST!!!!!!

Re:aaaaaaaa (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29956144)

So the tag "!worf" is applied to this story and shows when I reload the Slashdot main page. That's wonderful. I mean fuck, seeing how I can read, I already knew that WOFF was not WORF yet some genius felt the need to point this out. And it became a part of the tags on the main page. What else is wonderful is that I have NEVER EVER, NOT ONE FUCKING TIME applied a tag to a story, refreshed the Slashdot main page, and seen my tag in place. Anyone else have this issue?

If shit like this didn't happen, I might even consider no longer posting nigger jokes. But, since basic functionality isn't working for me on a very standard setup (firefox on linux), I figure I might as well have some fun and ruffle the feathers of the easily offended. Hell, upsetting the easily offended is sort of like a public service, as they so badly need to have this done or else they risk being childish and whiney their entire lives. I love black people too, and I know very well I will never be as cool as many of them are. It's just that the word "honkey" just doesn't get the same effect out of the easily offended, because their primitive minds and social conditioning can't grasp such simple concepts as "racism is wrong no matter who it's done to." So again, might as well have fun with them, that way their stupidity and PC piety isn't a total loss.

Re:aaaaaaaa (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29956562)

dude... what?

Easier fonts means a lot! (5, Funny)

SlappyBastard (961143) | more than 4 years ago | (#29955680)

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

Re:Easier fonts means a lot! (4, Interesting)

zonky (1153039) | more than 4 years ago | (#29955718)

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

Re:Easier fonts means a lot! (3, Funny)

sopssa (1498795) | more than 4 years ago | (#29955774)

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

Re:Easier fonts means a lot! (1)

maxume (22995) | more than 4 years ago | (#29955844)

Even worse, links are often already guarded by some javascript that rewrites what shows up in the status bar (please, no one bother saying this is why they use NoScript, we get it, but there are a few hundred million people who want their shiny).

Re:Easier fonts means a lot! (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29955898)

Even worse, links are often already guarded by some javascript that rewrites what shows up in the status bar

Bah, this is why I use NoScript.

Re:Easier fonts means a lot! (3, Informative)

Brian Gordon (987471) | more than 4 years ago | (#29955968)

This is why we use browsers that aren't 10 years old. Heck, even firefox exposes this option in the GUI configuration. Go to Preferences, the Content tab, and click Advanced next to Enable Javascript.

Re:Easier fonts means a lot! (1)

sopssa (1498795) | more than 4 years ago | (#29956034)

And for Opera too:
Preferences -> Advanced -> Content -> JavaScript Options -> Allow changing of status field

Re:Easier fonts means a lot! (5, Interesting)

maxume (22995) | more than 4 years ago | (#29956622)

I actually already had that unchecked; I was remembering poorly. The real tricky attack is to use onmousedown to swap out the link, something like this:

<a href="http://www.example.com" onmousedown="this.href=buildlink(...)">link</a>

Re:Easier fonts means a lot! (3, Informative)

zonky (1153039) | more than 4 years ago | (#29955858)

You can quite easily fool people that the sites they are on are encypted by setting the favicon to be a padlock- people are simply unable to determine where they are, whether or not a site is trustworthy, and will click anything to install something. Web Fonts may offer some advantages, but they seem to have downsides as well.

Re:Easier fonts means a lot! (4, Insightful)

causality (777677) | more than 4 years ago | (#29956362)

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

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

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

Re:Easier fonts means a lot! (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29956858)

> They don't seem to appreciate the difference between "don't trust every anonymous individual who asks for your bank account information" and "write this complex program in x86 assembly," which is not unlike the difference between "drive this car" and "rebuild its engine."

Actually writing a complex program in x86 assembly is more like "rebuild its engine using no other tools than a banana and a nail clipper".

Re:Easier fonts means a lot! (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29956886)

What in GODS name are you blabbering about? No, seriously, what are you actually going on about?
This is for WEB fonts, not for "Oh hey, i think i will completely misdirect you by somehow magically being capable of modifying your STATUS BAR with web font-faces!"
These open fonts do absolutely NOTHING bad, people can already be redirected to websites without realising it, link obfuscation has been around since the web began.

Nobody gives a damn about the idiot users, especially the shops.
The idiots are their largest incomes, "oh my computers not workin, best bin it and buy a new one". (yes, it happens every day)

Whoever modded this up seriously needs to read it back over again, the parents posts have absolutely NOTHING to do with this and is almost FUD-like.

Re:Easier fonts means a lot! (1)

sakdoctor (1087155) | more than 4 years ago | (#29955796)

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

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

Re:Easier fonts means a lot! (2, Interesting)

PRMan (959735) | more than 4 years ago | (#29956506)

Noscript is set to allow Google to be trusted in many areas that others are not. It makes some sense, as Google has been fairly trustworthy until now.

Re:Easier fonts means a lot! (2, Informative)

davidbrit2 (775091) | more than 4 years ago | (#29955962)

I've (fortunately) yet to see a web browser that lets you apply a font to its status bar via CSS.

Re:Easier fonts means a lot! (1)

Magic5Ball (188725) | more than 4 years ago | (#29956044)

No problem. Since Chrome and various other distributions of other browsers do not ship with the status bar turned on, a malicious content provider could just create their own in CSS.

Re:Easier fonts means a lot! (2, Informative)

DragonWriter (970822) | more than 4 years ago | (#29956400)

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

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

Re:Easier fonts means a lot! (1)

Vexorian (959249) | more than 4 years ago | (#29956488)

Is there a reason that this custom font should affect the browser's status bar? I guess not, then it would just be a very sophisticated attempt at doing what sopssa's post does already...

Re:Easier fonts means a lot! (1)

BikeHelmet (1437881) | more than 4 years ago | (#29956626)

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

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

Re:Easier fonts means a lot! (1)

BitZtream (692029) | more than 4 years ago | (#29956688)

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

Re:Easier fonts means a lot! (0, Redundant)

sopssa (1498795) | more than 4 years ago | (#29955722)

I hope this gets implemented to Slashdot too, this kind of posting just isn't enough!

Re:Easier fonts means a lot! (5, Funny)

syousef (465911) | more than 4 years ago | (#29955732)

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

Unfortunately I think most web sites will standardise on Windings.

Re:Easier fonts means a lot! (3, Informative)

gEvil (beta) (945888) | more than 4 years ago | (#29956182)

Unfortunately I think most web sites will standardise on Windings.

There was an interview in Ray Gun magazine many years ago that was entirely set in Wingdings. David Carson (the art director for the magazine) talks about it briefly in the movie Helvetica.

Re:Easier fonts means a lot! (1)

Yvan256 (722131) | more than 4 years ago | (#29956210)

Fortunately for me I don't even have this font on my comp... oh wait.

Re:Easier fonts means a lot! (1)

lastchance_000 (847415) | more than 4 years ago | (#29956244)

I think most sites will compete to see how many different fonts they can cram on one page. I'm not sure where I'd look to find them, now that GeoCities is shut down. Maybe Myspace?

Re:Easier fonts means a lot! (1)

mb1 (966747) | more than 4 years ago | (#29955744)

Actually, I'm imagining a world that can do away with buggy, hard to configure inline Flash replacements for realtime custom font display. It's a good world :)

Re:Easier fonts means a lot! (1)

jonbryce (703250) | more than 4 years ago | (#29955902)

You can do that already with animated gifs.

Re:Easier fonts means a lot! (1)

Gerald (9696) | more than 4 years ago | (#29956124)

They already can [mikeindustries.com] .

Sure, but only with proprietary plugins... (2, Interesting)

Qubit (100461) | more than 4 years ago | (#29956378)

From the article about sIFR:

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

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

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

Re:Easier fonts means a lot! (3, Funny)

keytoe (91531) | more than 4 years ago | (#29956590)

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

How long... (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29955712)

...before Microsoft embraces and extends this format?

How long... (1)

dstelljes (1451015) | more than 4 years ago | (#29955800)

...until hell freezes over?

Re:How long... (2, Insightful)

javaman235 (461502) | more than 4 years ago | (#29955814)

...before Microsoft embraces and extends this format?

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

Re:How long... (2, Insightful)

characterZer0 (138196) | more than 4 years ago | (#29955992)

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

Re:How long... (2, Informative)

Brian Gordon (987471) | more than 4 years ago | (#29956008)

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

Re:How long... (2, Funny)

John Hasler (414242) | more than 4 years ago | (#29956116)

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

Same here.

Re:How long... (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29956652)

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

Same here.

And here.

Re:How long... (3, Informative)

xaxa (988988) | more than 4 years ago | (#29956502)

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

The rest of us will enjoy the improvement.

What about the foundries? (2, Informative)

_merlin (160982) | more than 4 years ago | (#29956184)

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

Re:What about the foundries? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29956854)

From the summary:

A new format specification has reached consensus among web and type designers

The Real Issue (1)

Frosty Piss (770223) | more than 4 years ago | (#29956490)

How long before Microsoft embraces and extends this format?

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

Great, but... (2, Interesting)

BenoitRen (998927) | more than 4 years ago | (#29955730)

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

Re:Great, but... (1)

BenoitRen (998927) | more than 4 years ago | (#29955770)

It's great that we're getting an open format for fonts. I hit the Reply button too quickly, there.

Re:Great, but... (3, Insightful)

sopssa (1498795) | more than 4 years ago | (#29955808)

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

Re:Great, but... (3, Insightful)

Openstandards.net (614258) | more than 4 years ago | (#29955880)

The web isn't really font-agnostic. It hasn't been since styles were introduced. What it is is font-limited, because the content provider can specify the preferred fonts, but can't control the actual fonts used. To be sure, this doesn't remove control from the end-user. They will still probably be able to reject a new font. You can also create content the old way, either with no font specified, or with your preferred font list of popular fonts. This simply adds an option for content providers who want to use fonts that are not necessarily likely to be installed on the user's machine, but are preferable to using images. Text in images is not Ctrl-F searchable and can consume a lot of bandwidth relative to text.

Light Edition called WOFFLE (3, Funny)

syousef (465911) | more than 4 years ago | (#29955772)

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

Re:Light Edition called WOFFLE (3, Funny)

Tubal-Cain (1289912) | more than 4 years ago | (#29955820)

I like WOPRs better.

Re:Light Edition called WOFFLE (2, Funny)

CopaceticOpus (965603) | more than 4 years ago | (#29956100)

I think they should have gone with Open Web Type Format.

Re:Light Edition called WOFFLE (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29956128)

Oh What the F&*K sounds like a great idea :)

Re:Light Edition called WOFFLE (1)

BobMcD (601576) | more than 4 years ago | (#29956418)

And later, they'll implement BUTTUR and SYRIP?

Brillian idea (1)

Openstandards.net (614258) | more than 4 years ago | (#29955782)

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

Re:Brillian idea (1)

sopssa (1498795) | more than 4 years ago | (#29955852)

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

Re:Brillian idea (1)

Openstandards.net (614258) | more than 4 years ago | (#29955970)

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

Re:Brillian idea (2, Interesting)

John Hasler (414242) | more than 4 years ago | (#29956060)

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

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

Re:Brillian idea (3, Insightful)

Xtifr (1323) | more than 4 years ago | (#29956080)

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

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

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

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

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

Re:Brillian idea (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29956660)

What a stupid rant. Enabling web designers to choose deliver you a font doesn't mean you have to accept that. It just means they can offer that.

This is like saying free beer is bad because it takes the "users" the say over what they drink.

Re:Brillian idea (4, Insightful)

Draek (916851) | more than 4 years ago | (#29956946)

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

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

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

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

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

Fix encoding first (3, Insightful)

Chelloveck (14643) | more than 4 years ago | (#29955842)

I'd be much happier if sites would just get their fscking 'charset' tags set properly. I suppose now we can look forward to smart-quotes mis-encoded in a whole variety of site-specific fonts!

More Fonts for the Internet? (3, Insightful)

Interoperable (1651953) | more than 4 years ago | (#29955848)

Oh. Shit.

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

Re:More Fonts for the Internet? (1)

jonbryce (703250) | more than 4 years ago | (#29955966)

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

Re:More Fonts for the Internet? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29956086)

You need to browse more commercial and artistic sites. Text being replaced by images is commonplace. Yes, the text is there, for Google if nothing else, but most users will see the images instead. The browser doesn't load a few kBytes of font data, it loads many more kBytes of PNGs that end up being not selectable, non-scalable and ignorant of aliasing preferences.

Re:More Fonts for the Internet? (1)

Vexorian (959249) | more than 4 years ago | (#29956518)

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

Does anyone else long for the days... (3, Interesting)

Richard Steiner (1585) | more than 4 years ago | (#29955874)

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

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

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

Re:Does anyone else long for the days... (-1, Redundant)

sopssa (1498795) | more than 4 years ago | (#29955928)

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

640K ought to be enough for everybody.

Re:Does anyone else long for the days... (4, Insightful)

John Whitley (6067) | more than 4 years ago | (#29956136)

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

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

Re:Does anyone else long for the days... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29956602)

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

No, you can't have your (ugly) static unstyled HTML back.

Actually you can. You just miss out on what everyone else is enjoying.

Sort of... (1)

Overzeetop (214511) | more than 4 years ago | (#29956160)

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

This would be a fabulous idea if the web were limited to accomplished graphic designers, but it's not - and that's where the problem comes in. There are a lot of people out there who just don't have the ability to create a readable site, even if they have otherwise good content. This just gives them another way to present their useful information poorly.

Re:Does anyone else long for the days... (1)

Pulzar (81031) | more than 4 years ago | (#29956216)

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

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

Re:Does anyone else long for the days... (1)

buckhead_buddy (186384) | more than 4 years ago | (#29956272)

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

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

Re:Does anyone else long for the days... (1)

Frosty Piss (770223) | more than 4 years ago | (#29956554)

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

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

Re:Does anyone else long for the days... (2, Insightful)

Tim C (15259) | more than 4 years ago | (#29956862)

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

Now in most cases that's probably true, as most people accessing those pages will be doing so because they speak that language, and so will presumably have the appropriate font. For everyone else, though, the page would look pretty crappy. (Check out the "weird boxes" on the Wikipedia page I link to)

That's one practical reason why, assuming making your content accessible to as wide an audience as possible is important to you.

As long as: (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29955886)

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

Re:As long as: (1)

PRMan (959735) | more than 4 years ago | (#29956542)

And if they don't, someone will...

format does not matter, it's about download limits (4, Informative)

chriss (26574) | more than 4 years ago | (#29955942)

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

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

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

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

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

Re:format does not matter, it's about download lim (1)

SilverHatHacker (1381259) | more than 4 years ago | (#29956172)

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

And if HTML 5 video happens, we will not only see one video technology that is supported by all browsers for the first time, but will also be able to provide content available on any platform and avoid the proprietary nature of Adobe Flash.
Oh, wait...
It'll be nice to see this being adopted in the open browsers, but I wouldn't bet the house on Microsoft (and to a lesser degree, Apple) implementing this anytime soon. If history is any indication, we'd be more likely to see MSFT release a .NET applet for displaying custom fonts sometime in the near future. W3C and such are nice, but as long as the Big Guys (TM) think they get to set the standard, we'll never see real change. (And sorry if that last bit sounded like a 2008 campaign speech.)

Re:format does not matter, it's about download lim (4, Interesting)

kill-1 (36256) | more than 4 years ago | (#29956232)

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

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

Re:format does not matter, it's about download lim (2, Insightful)

chriss (26574) | more than 4 years ago | (#29956536)

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

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

Compare it to watermarking in MP3: It does not protect against unauthorized copies, it can often be removed, so why would the music industry agree to something like that? Because it made copying a little bit harder, prosecution a little bit easier, while not pissing everybody of with some pain in the ass DRM scheme.

The foundries have a problem: they would love to make money on web typography, they are scared shitless because every web font technology out today is trivial to copy. You don't even have to copy it, just link from your CSS to a licensed font on another site, might even be legal.

On the other hand they watched other industries screwing it up by annoying their customers to hell and in the end driving a lot of potentially paying customers to discover ways to avoid being hassled by the industry. So they will not try to take invent another crazy DRM method just to get their asses kicked. WOFF might not be the solution they would like to see, but probably the best thing they can hope to realistically get, if they want to earn a dime from all those companies that would love to license fonts for the web to keep their CI consistent in all media.

Re:format does not matter, it's about download lim (1)

kill-1 (36256) | more than 4 years ago | (#29956780)

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

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

Re:format does not matter, it's about download lim (1)

Magic5Ball (188725) | more than 4 years ago | (#29956336)

As we've seen with Flash applets and such, site-locking will primarily result in diverting users from File|Save As... to the several hundred free and for-profit sites/utilities which will pop up to solve this problem. Just look at the large number of YouTube video downloaders, Flash hacks, JavaScript de-obfuscators and PDF liberators.

If something like this open but restricted font distribution scheme is to succeed, it has to learn from the postscript/pdf experience, in which simple "do not copy or embed" flags are useless if the applications do not check or enforce them. Fonts embedded in PDFs are only marginally protected insofar as the PDF only stores the subset of characters actually used in the document, and even then, there are several OSS utilities to extract fonts form PDFs. The web situation is even worse in that with user-generated content, an average debugger/game cheater app, or the source code to Firefox, it would be pretty trivial to mount a dictionary attack to obtain the data for an entire font, its weights, and variants.

This scheme will only be viable if the server does some of the interpreting (e.g. of j/k rules which distinguishes most good fonts from the junk), and presents only a description of the results of rule interpretation to the browser, and even then a dictionary attack to derive the empirical rules would be fairly trivial with or without signing/certificates and the like.

Re:format does not matter, it's about download lim (1)

BitZtream (692029) | more than 4 years ago | (#29956654)

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

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

You argue that this is important for font foundries. Well, that in and of itself is the first problem, font foundries are ridiculous and have more retarded licensing than MS. Second, how long do you think its going to take for an extension to come out that works around it. You can't control this, the idea that the file format can is just silly when you're talking about implementing it in an OSS package.

You started off by saying its not really a new format, just an OT wrapper, and then you follow up with 'its a new format' so it doesn't take along the baggage. This is contridictor, either its based on opentype and brings the baggage or it isn't, pick one.

There is no copy protection in OSS software, if you have the code its trivial to change it and work around it. Are you saying that Mozilla is going to promote using a binary blob in their browser?

You haven't provided any reason that this font format is different than what we already have, and you're completely ignoring the SVG format which is actually a fully open standard, and is already supported if you properly support SVGs. Of course no one does at the moment, but thats another story. I find it hard to believe that a new format will be better supported when SVG support is in the state it is.

A new font technology is going to bring fonts with increased readability? WTF? I've yet to see anyone use a font better than the old reliables included in Windows and Mac OS. I've seen plenty of fonts that are about as far from readable as you can get and still read them because they were made by some random person with no clue about whats important in typography. How is a new format going to change any existing problem? Its not.

How the hell did you get modded informative while talking in circles, contridicting yourself multiple times along the way?

Re:format does not matter, it's about download lim (4, Insightful)

chriss (26574) | more than 4 years ago | (#29956922)

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

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

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

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

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

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

I only need one font. (2, Funny)

mirix (1649853) | more than 4 years ago | (#29956228)

Courier. I like to pretend I'm reading a typewriter printout.

knowing is half the battle (1)

Tumbleweed (3706) | more than 4 years ago | (#29956374)

Now I know what to disable first in Firefox 3.6.

Re:knowing is half the battle (1)

John Whitley (6067) | more than 4 years ago | (#29956614)

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

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

Also consider that web-delivered fonts open the door to "render[ing] languages for which font support is usually lacking." [mozilla.org] . Folks in linguistic minorities can use this to share content without having to wheedle browser/OS makers for font support, and without any fiddly configuration on the part of the reader.

And how hard will it be to extract the entire font (1)

popo (107611) | more than 4 years ago | (#29956420)

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

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

Re:And how hard will it be to extract the entire f (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29956528)

A couple of hours?

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

Re:And how hard will it be to extract the entire f (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29956638)

Yeah, not gonna happen for exactly this reason. At least IE will not support this. And Mozilla will be on rather explosive legal territory if they decide to go ahead and seriously implement this. And I'm pretty sure that this is also the reason users can't include fonts in .doc/.docx/.odt files. And before someone suggests font subsets, it's doubtful that would work well on the web.

This will be awesome in 10 years (2, Funny)

schnablebg (678930) | more than 4 years ago | (#29956474)

This is going to be so great in 10 years when IE supports it fully and enough users are running that version of IE to make it worth the implementation time.

Because SVG fonts aren't already enough ... (-1, Troll)

BitZtream (692029) | more than 4 years ago | (#29956526)

Seriously mozilla, I'm rapidly losing faith in you.

We already have SVG fonts. Why exactly do we need ANOTHER one?

Fix the abomination your browser has turned into and focus on the reason you exist. Its got to the point where IE is going to be less bloated than Firefox.

You've got PLENTY of bugs to fix already, and you can't even agree with anyone on existing compatibility issues.

We don't want more features, we want Firefox to stop running like Navigator did in the late 90s.

Are you trying to become another Novell? Once a respectable company with a good product, but now a has been with nothing of real value to offer? Stop fragmenting the web, we don't need another freaking font format.

FOCUS.

again

FOCUS

Before you become obsolete, of course, with Chrome, it may well be too late.

What the hell for?? Is this a trick by Adobe? (1)

Cartan (452962) | more than 4 years ago | (#29956558)

If I want PDF, I know where to find it...

They should have named it (2, Funny)

sconeu (64226) | more than 4 years ago | (#29956616)

Web Open Representation for Fonts....

Just so we could have WORF as an acronym.

"Today is a good day to be rendered!"

Web can now use any font? (1)

u0berdev (1038434) | more than 4 years ago | (#29956674)

Another nail in the print media coffin.

Answer looking for a problem? (1)

netux (806209) | more than 4 years ago | (#29956682)

CSS 3 Web Fonts [opera.com] is already a done deal, so is there some real reason we need yet another way to get fonts to a user? If the font won't work on their browser, fall back to browser default, wow, it won't look as purdy, boo-hoo.

Compressed OpenType? (1)

klapaucjusz (1167407) | more than 4 years ago | (#29956698)

Do I read the article right? It's just a compression scheme for OpenType?

This could also impact Flash... (1)

Jude T. Obscure (721864) | more than 4 years ago | (#29956898)

Twice now I have been forced to develop a website in Flash when the only reason the client would not accept standards-compliant CSS pages was the font limitations. Not a moment too soon, I say.
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