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Font Foundries Opening Up To the Web

timothy posted more than 4 years ago | from the but-what-about-printing dept.

GUI 209

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

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More is good, but (5, Funny)

Dachannien (617929) | more than 4 years ago | (#32102528)

...we really just need one less. [bancomicsans.com]

They need to hyphenate that. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32102602)

I thought I was going to visit the site of a Bank in South America called "Banco Micsans"

At least they aren't offering expert sex changes [expertsexchange.com]

Won't make a difference! (0)

TrisexualPuppy (976893) | more than 4 years ago | (#32102910)

So let's see here. Web designers may get a bunch of fonts, but...

what use are they if they are not installed on the user's macine?

This is why every page still uses the Arial/Helvetica/Times/Verdana mixmash. You aren't going to be able to see a site in any other font unless you have that font installed. And who is going to manually install a font pack? Not that it is terribly inconvenient to install fonts, but it is nice when your browser or Web platform does this automatically as it is typically the only real path to adoption in a lot of Web scenarios. It would be awfully nice if font installation were some magical hidden feature in HTML5. ;)

Re:Won't make a difference! (2, Informative)

tepples (727027) | more than 4 years ago | (#32103118)

what use are they if they are not installed on the user's macine?

They aren't installed on the user's machine. Instead, they are linked through CSS @font-face, but only licensed sites can hotlin the font that way.

Re:Won't make a difference! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32103132)

You aren't going to be able to see a site in any other font unless you have that font installed.

Wrong. You blatantly don't understand what web fonts are. Here, let me wiki that for you [wikipedia.org] .

Just what I want. More external crap the user has (1)

pushf popf (741049) | more than 4 years ago | (#32103598)

Has anybody noticed that the fonts reside on Monotype's servers and the user's browser needs to go fetch them, and unlike all the standard browser fonts, these require a licence in order to use. The licence is currently free, however that doesn't mean it won't be $100,000 tomorrow.

And if their server goes down or you decide you don't want to pay, your site looks like crap.

Pardon my scepticism, but I'll stick to fonts that exist in the browser or even better CSS @font-face and download a freely distributable font from the client's site.

The part that's astonishing is that there are still companies that charge money for fonts. Why (how) are they still here?

Re:Just what I want. More external crap the user h (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32103884)

Because designers know that it costs time and energy to make a good font, and want to show respect for that. You really shouldn't get riled up about typography without learning about it first from the perspective of the people who actually do it.

Re:Just what I want. More external crap the user h (5, Insightful)

kevinmenzel (1403457) | more than 4 years ago | (#32103924)

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

Re:Just what I want. More external crap the user h (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32104520)

Your ideas intrigue me and I'd like to subscribe to your (prefectly kerned Helvetica) newsletter.

Re:More is good, but (2)

RedEars (1622495) | more than 4 years ago | (#32102806)

Can I nominate a second in Papyrus???

Re:More is good, but (1)

c++0xFF (1758032) | more than 4 years ago | (#32103602)

Before I knew that these two fonts were overdone, I used them both for my wedding announcements.

I now know better and hang my head in shame. I can only hope nobody noticed.

Re:More is good, but (1)

davester666 (731373) | more than 4 years ago | (#32104218)

So you're the one that put them over the top, from just being overused, to making everybody physically ill when they see these font's...

Re:More is good, but (1)

ObsessiveMathsFreak (773371) | more than 4 years ago | (#32103654)

There is nothing wrong with comics sans. People use it in inappropriate situations, but that is not a technical issue with the font itself.

See also, Bittorrent.

Re:More is good, but (1)

wiredlogic (135348) | more than 4 years ago | (#32104362)

College Humor's Font conference video [youtube.com] would seem apropos.

Re:More is good, but (1)

geekoid (135745) | more than 4 years ago | (#32104792)

I don't care what people say, Like it. I have yet to hear a logical argument against it for any technical reason. Just some people who decided it wasn't any good.

In fact, the whole argument on that site build down to:
"It's not how it would of been done before computers, therefore it's bad.

They use as hom attacks, and somehow think they get to dictate what is art.

Seriously? (0, Redundant)

uvajed_ekil (914487) | more than 4 years ago | (#32102530)

How many fonts do you need?

Re:Seriously? (3, Funny)

WrongSizeGlass (838941) | more than 4 years ago | (#32102608)

Apparently at least one sans serif font [xkcd.com] .

Re:Seriously? (0, Offtopic)

siloko (1133863) | more than 4 years ago | (#32102686)

Well with all of mankind's genius at our fingertips the one thing I have been missing is a pretty font. That and a girlfriend. And some FUCKING LIGHTS DOWN HERE PLEASE!

Re:Seriously? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32102776)

Will this mean the death od Comic Sans? I f**king hope so.

Re:Seriously? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32103206)

640k fonts ought to be enough for anyone.

lolwut (0, Offtopic)

Pojut (1027544) | more than 4 years ago | (#32102538)

waving-flag, jumping-smiley, flashing-text era HTML explosion

What about scrolling marquees and animated "under construction" GIFs, you insensitive clod!

Oh great (4, Funny)

LWATCDR (28044) | more than 4 years ago | (#32102544)

More websites that look like ransom notes.

Re:Oh great (2, Funny)

WrongSizeGlass (838941) | more than 4 years ago | (#32102636)

More websites that look like ransom notes.

Dont you mean "conditional requests for donations"?

Re:Oh great (1)

$RANDOMLUSER (804576) | more than 4 years ago | (#32102970)

Yay! More websites in Flyspeck 7 with grey text on a black background.

But will IE accept the new font files? (5, Insightful)

Animats (122034) | more than 4 years ago | (#32102558)

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

Re:But will IE accept the new font files? (5, Informative)

PhrostyMcByte (589271) | more than 4 years ago | (#32102712)

Yes, Microsoft is implementing the WOFF standard [msdn.com] , along with all the other browsers.

Re:But will IE accept the new font files? (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32102990)

I spanked one out to this announcement. Ah, nostalgia.

Hemos

Re:But will IE accept the new font files? (1)

imess (805488) | more than 4 years ago | (#32103514)

From the article:

Frank Martinez, a New York lawyer who specializes in intellectual property law and who represents several typeface designers and foundries, said the difference between having a font temporarily downloaded to your computer and having it installed permanently on your computer is like hearing a song on the radio versus getting a band's CD. "Either way you receive the music," he said. "But if you hear it on the radio, you don't own it, and you can't play it again."

If it is WOFF, what prevents one from decompressing and installing it locally?

From http://hacks.mozilla.org/2009/10/woff/ [mozilla.org] :

Fonts in WOFF format are compressed but are not encrypted, the format should not be viewed as a "secure" format by those looking for a mechanism to strictly regulate and control font use.

The compression format is lossless, the uncompressed font data will match that of the original OpenType or TrueType font, so the way the font renders will be the same as the original.

As an aside, I really like more choices of fonts, but the potential licensing cost just drives me away.

Re:But will IE accept the new font files? (2, Informative)

BZ (40346) | more than 4 years ago | (#32103932)

> If it is WOFF, what prevents one from decompressing and installing it locally?

Nothing, just like nothing prevents you from recording songs off the radio.

The key is that it makes it impossible to say you didn't know you had the font on your system, or that it was accidentally dragged from your cache folder to your fonts folder or whatnot. The compression is not meant as DRM but as a way to make the font smaller, from the UA point of view. From the foundry point of view it makes the "my browser just put this decompressed font on my system" defense not fly: if it's there and decompressed, you decompressed it or got it from someone who did.

Re:But will IE accept the new font files? (1)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | more than 4 years ago | (#32104032)

I'd assume that(in a rare moment of sanity for a content industry), they concluded that while WOFF won't do much to stop an adversary who cares, neither will any "OMG SEcure!!" DRM solution running on general purpose PC hardware. Not to mention the fact that anybody who actually wants to hoard expensive fonts on their PC already got a DVD full from a friend, or from bittorrent, or from Usenet, depending on technical proficiency and age.

If they insisted on some goofy DRM scheme, they would stop a minimal number of low-skill, mostly low-value infringers, and probably ensure years more chaos on the web-fonts scene. If they went with WOFF, they'll be able to ink some lucrative licencing deals with major sites(who are the ones that actually matter), and a few people will extract fonts and use them to print greeting cards. It's a net win. Frankly, given the historical strength of DRM systems, pretty much any compression/obfuscation/weird file location trick that requires joe user to download some sort of helper utility to get past is basically as strong, for practical purposes, as some advanced DRM system that joe user would need to download a crack for.

Since home users basically don't buy fonts anyway, they don't represent a terribly valuable market. If somebody big rips you off, you can sue the shit out of them.

Re:But will IE accept the new font files? (1)

ObsessiveMathsFreak (773371) | more than 4 years ago | (#32103614)

Just when we all though the font copyright had been consigned to the realm of history....

A whole new industry with it patents and pitfalls is going to be brought screaming into the 21st century. Soon there will be legions of lawyers and PR drones promoting the idea that some way of drawing the letter 'A' is worthy of copyright and patent protection. For a while there, it looked like that nonsense was behind us, but I suppose that was just wishful thinking.

Re:But will IE accept the new font files? (1)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | more than 4 years ago | (#32104106)

On the plus side, the ability of font copyrights to threaten the freedom of people who don't care is pretty limited. As long as you are blessed with somewhat undiscerning tastes, Free fonts are already available for pretty much any character set you would have reason to use. Substituting one font for another might break some design major's little dream; but it isn't hard.

Those people for who fonts don't matter much can easily just stick to the free stuff, and those people who care enough to pay can pay. Not a big deal.

Mozilla's font files? (1)

Animaether (411575) | more than 4 years ago | (#32103068)

I must have completely missed it, but... what exactly would "Mozilla's font files" entail?
Google is mostly returning the WOFF bits and pieces now, so I'm not entirely sure what to search for, there.

Re:Mozilla's font files? (3, Informative)

Animats (122034) | more than 4 years ago | (#32103710)

I must have completely missed it, but... what exactly would "Mozilla's font files" entail?

Netscape 4.x through 5.x supported "Dynamic Fonts" [archive.org] , downloadable font files. Worked fine, but Microsoft didn't like it and didn't support it in IE. When IE was free and Netscape cost money, IE won out. Netscape then gave up on font support, which was a technology they licensed from Bitstream, not an open standard.

Re:But will IE accept the new font files? (0, Troll)

hesaigo999ca (786966) | more than 4 years ago | (#32103482)

probably going to be incompatibilities, after all, it is M$

Re:But will IE accept the new font files? (1)

el_gordo101 (643167) | more than 4 years ago | (#32103510)

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

Actually, we got into the mess of text in images because "web designers" (read: graphic artists) weren't satisfied with the limited number of font faces that could be counted on to be displayed across different platforms. They needed to express their "artistic vision", but Times New Roman, Arial, and generic "sans-serif" font declarations couldn't scratch that itch. They used Photoshop to embed their favorite font faces into graphic elements on the page (buttons, logos, headers, etc). in order to satisfy their artistic vision. It had nothing to do with Microsoft not supporting Mozilla's font files (whatever that even means). This was happening long before the advent of Mozilla. The modern equivalent would be designers using Flash to develop their interfaces. It gives the designer complete control over the design but it breaks the way the web was intended to work. With this new @font-face method, you can still get the very specific look and feel you want, but can still have your content indexed, select, copy, paste still works, etc.

Why... (1)

Wyatt Earp (1029) | more than 4 years ago | (#32102606)

So fonts cost so much?

Re:Why... (4, Informative)

realmolo (574068) | more than 4 years ago | (#32102708)

Because creating a *complete* font that looks good is a lot of work. Basically, every character has to be hand-tweaked to look good at different point sizes. It's tedious work, and not many people know how to do it.

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

Re:Why... (1)

Wyatt Earp (1029) | more than 4 years ago | (#32102770)

Thanks, I've always wondered that about them.

Re:Why... (1)

poopdeville (841677) | more than 4 years ago | (#32102846)

If you're interested, check out "The Elements of Typographic Style" from your local library. Very interesting stuff. I used it as a source when designing a LaTeX style for my senior thesis.

Re:Why... (1)

Yvan256 (722131) | more than 4 years ago | (#32102890)

And a LOT of fonts only include the bare minimum characters to display english text. If you need to make a website in another language, it's a lot of trouble because of incomplete fonts.

That and font editors are expensive (3, Informative)

tepples (727027) | more than 4 years ago | (#32103170)

So, fonts are expensive because it's VERY hard to make good ones.

That and all the font creation software that runs natively under popular desktop operating systems costs a significant chunk of change. Sure, you can try FontForge, but installing Cygwin to run that is a pain in the behind.

Five Classic Type Faces (2, Insightful)

westlake (615356) | more than 4 years ago | (#32103380)

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

It's a rare and extraordinary craft.

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

Garamond: French. Old Style. 1617

Baskerville: English. Transitional. 1757.

Bodoni: Italian. Modern. 1780.

Century: American. "Egyptian." 1894.

Helvetica: Swiss. Contemporary. 1957.

Re:Why... (4, Insightful)

MagikSlinger (259969) | more than 4 years ago | (#32103460)

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

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

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

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

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

Re:Why... (1)

JustinOpinion (1246824) | more than 4 years ago | (#32103652)

Indeed. There are many fonts that have been around for a very long time and have no doubt fully recouped the design cost, yet are still quite expensive to license. Like other digital items (music, movies, etc.) fonts can be copied easily; but unlike entertainment, we don't need new fonts to be created so frequently (of course new fonts are needed, but the rate at which new ones are needed is fairly slow). Given the incredibly high ratio usage ratio in fonts, the per-use cost should be very, very small. And indeed many fonts are freely distributed or licensed so cheaply that they are just bundled up in other products. But other fonts (which didn't really require that much more effort) are incredibly expensive.

The status quo may be reasonable in the sense that people are paying how much fonts are worth to them. But it seems ineffective to me in the sense that fonts are only protected through government-enforced monopoly (copyright). Whereas a copyright of, say, 15 years on a book may be easy to justify, I find it hard to justify it for fonts. Probably even with only a 3-year protection period, fonts would still be produced in sufficient quantities (and with sufficient diversity) to satisfy all our needs. And overall, society could conceivably be much better off, since all the small players could use the great variety of fonts that exist. (Even taking into account that the variety might be slightly reduced because of the shorter protection period.)

My point is only that the "fonts are expensive to design" argument needs to be taken with a grain of salt, because fonts become so widely used. It seems to me that it would only require very small payments from all users (or a few medium-sized payments from big players who want immediate access to new fonts that other people are not using yet) to fully-fund font development.

Re:Why... (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32103688)

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

Re:Why... (1)

Lakitu (136170) | more than 4 years ago | (#32104202)

The labor value theory of doesn't explain the price of Helvetica which has been around for 50 years and heavily used (and bought).

My point is only that the "fonts are expensive to design" argument needs to be taken with a grain of salt, because fonts become so widely used. It seems to me that it would only require very small payments from all users (or a few medium-sized payments from big players who want immediate access to new fonts that other people are not using yet) to fully-fund font development.

It's not so much the cost in making it -- in terms of dollars -- as it is why the cost of making it is what it is. If making a font is terribly difficult, and as such attracts a relatively small pool of skilled laborers, the cost of the font will be higher, regardless of the actual dollar-value of the cost of production. If there are only two people in the world who can make fonts others enjoy reading, then the demand for their fonts will skyrocket, along with the price. Even if it cost them only a dollar to make the font.

Re:Why... (1)

Knara (9377) | more than 4 years ago | (#32104650)

I think you miss the point that "funding development" is not the same as "making a profit". Some people like to make profits.

Re:Why... (1)

Reziac (43301) | more than 4 years ago | (#32104280)

Looked to me like this new scheme charges a license fee based on actual user impressions, so it is charged per view rather than flat rate.

Of course if you run a popular amateur website, that could well wind up being more than what some obscure corporate website pays to use the same font.

Re:Why... (1)

k.a.f. (168896) | more than 4 years ago | (#32104080)

You know, those features almost perfectly describe the task of software development. That didn't stop the crowd-sourced, honor-motivated, freely-shared approach from suddenly becoming an overwhelming success story. So while that sounds convincing at first, the true reason must be something entirely different - I'm not saying I know what it is, but this ain't it.

Font Foundries (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32104454)

No, the real reason that fonts are expensive is because they could only be forged out of mithril by Dwarven master-smiths skilled in the arcane runic arts. These Dwarven master-smiths ceaselessly toil day and night, hammering the fonts with their ancient mithril hammers under extreme heat of the volcanic furnaces of their underground font foundries. Only after at least a decade of smithing will the Dwarves deem a font fit to be traded for gold. So, if you ever hear thunder or lightning around mountains, it is actually the hammering and sparks from the Dwarven font foundries. The end.

Re:Why... (1)

StripedCow (776465) | more than 4 years ago | (#32104676)

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

Solution:

1) take any old book (older than 100 years, or in any case old enough to have its copyright expired).
2) make sure the fonts it contains are suitable and good-looking, otherwise pick another book
3) scan pages at high resolution until you've captured all different letters.
4) use a vector tracing program (adobe illustrator contains a vector tracer)
5) adjust the shapes a little
6) convert shapes to a font using a font editor, specify the distances between letters
7) profit

(note: there's no ??? in there)

Re:Why... (1)

geekoid (135745) | more than 4 years ago | (#32104808)

So? they still cost too much. Plus people that do it are way too full of themselves.

Oh, it's not hard, just takes more work then people expect. Know the difference.

Re:Why... (1)

Knara (9377) | more than 4 years ago | (#32104636)

So fonts cost so much?

Anyone can make a font. Not many people can make a good font.

Even fewer can make a good font that has an extensive supported character set.

Even fewer than that can make the font with typefaces that don't look like ass

And even fewer can make digital fonts that antialias in a way that makes them readable at relatively small sizes.

Important Issues (2, Interesting)

RAMMS+EIN (578166) | more than 4 years ago | (#32102738)

The article is vague on what, if anything, is being done to address the important issues that have been impeding a wider selection of fonts being used on web pages, namely:

1. Lack of browser support for downloading fonts (CSS @font-face and friends; see @font-face: The Potential of Web Typography [craigmod.com] , which will also show you if your browser supports the technology they use)

2. Restrictive licenses that do not allow making fonts available

Both of these means that, when making a web page, you are limited to what fonts the viewer has available.

Re:Important Issues (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32102794)

Re: #2

if a designer wants you to see Caslon, she can purchase it from the font company that owns it or through services such as Typekit, which has a library of fonts available by subscription. That font will be delivered to the designer's website and to anyone viewing it, even if the font is not installed on the computer.

The designer is satisfied because you are seeing what she intended you to see, and the typeface designers are satisfied because they were paid.

Frank Martinez, a New York lawyer who specializes in intellectual property law and who represents several typeface designers and foundries, said the difference between having a font temporarily downloaded to your computer and having it installed permanently on your computer is like hearing a song on the radio versus getting a band's CD. "Either way you receive the music," he said. "But if you hear it on the radio, you don't own it, and you can't play it again."

We'll see, Mr Martinez, we'll see.

Re:Important Issues (1)

Chad Birch (1222564) | more than 4 years ago | (#32102832)

Judging from The Fonts.com Web Fonts [fonts.com] page, they're using some sort of javascript to try to protect their fonts. If I toggle javascript on and off for fonts.com, the look of that page changes as a bunch of fonts turn on/off. Their "three easy steps" on the right also includes "Add a short script to your site".

Re:Important Issues (1)

Urza9814 (883915) | more than 4 years ago | (#32103320)

1. Lack of browser support for downloading fonts (CSS @font-face and friends; see @font-face: The Potential of Web Typography, which will also show you if your browser supports the technology they use)

Yup, my browser supports it. Which is why I can barely read anything on that site. I'll stick with my system Sans/Sans-serif fonts, thanks. I don't need this illegible crap that looks like it was written with a pen that was running out of ink by someone who was trying to write as fast as humanly possible. Even the non-cursive fonts on that page look like crap and are difficult to read.

Re:Important Issues (2, Insightful)

Kozz (7764) | more than 4 years ago | (#32103968)

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

WOFF (2, Informative)

pavon (30274) | more than 4 years ago | (#32104048)

WOFF [wikipedia.org] is the answer to both questions. It is an open font format that allows browsers to download the font on demand, and all the browsers have committed to supporting it in their next release. It has no DRM, but since it isn't the same format as operating systems use, and the browser will be downloading it to a temporary directory behind the scenes, most users won't know that it is possible to copy the fonts - most don't even know how to install a TTF when you give it to them. The foundries have decided that being too restrictive about the use of fonts means that no one will use them, and have pretty much unanimously decided to support the WOFF format - which is what this article is about with all the tech info filtered out.

This article [arstechnica.com] has more info.

My Cynical Response (1)

Scutter (18425) | more than 4 years ago | (#32102792)

People will still use Comic Sans.

Ransom letter homework handouts (2, Insightful)

K. S. Kyosuke (729550) | more than 4 years ago | (#32102796)

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

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

Re:Ransom letter homework handouts (1)

qoncept (599709) | more than 4 years ago | (#32104110)

If someone is using Comic Sans, the font is probably the least of their design worries.

Performance? (4, Interesting)

time961 (618278) | more than 4 years ago | (#32102814)

This sounds like just what I need: more 100KB unanticipated downloads while I'm stuck at the end of an unreliable slow cellular modem connection. What ever happened to using the web to deliver information instead of "art"? At least browsers can ignore the new font specifications and still display something useful, unlike what happens with high-fashion websites implemented entirely in Flash. As we know, "Flash home page" == "Hold on to your wallet". Will it be the same for fancy fonts, too?

Re:Performance? (3, Insightful)

mikael_j (106439) | more than 4 years ago | (#32103060)

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

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

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

Re:Performance? (1)

Beyond_GoodandEvil (769135) | more than 4 years ago | (#32103230)

Dismissing websites that have actually been designed as opposed to just latex2html-ified as "art" really just makes you come off as a grumpy person with no sense for estetics and good presentation of the information.
[cough] myspace[/cough]. Sorry, going to have to agree w/ the gpp, less sizzle more steak please.

Re:Performance? (1)

pizzach (1011925) | more than 4 years ago | (#32103390)

I do thing you are being a bit optimistic. I remember when ign.com used a background image to set the color behind the text to white. The only problem is even on cable it would take a number of seconds before you can read the text. On dialup, it would be closer to 20 to 30 seconds before you could read the text.

Honestly, if big websites like that can't figure out basic good web design, I don't trust general designers. These are the people who will likely still feed images to users if they can figure out how to detect if they don't support the @font-family css setting. Hell, with a current CMS I have set up, I can't edit the menus using the CMS because the damn links are images.

Humbug.

Re:Performance? (1)

bit01 (644603) | more than 4 years ago | (#32104412)

Dismissing websites that have actually been designed

You are are using a different meaning for the word "design" than many. Websites are about communication and having yet another different, unfamiliar font impedes that communication.

Pre-web somebody did a study to work out what was the clearest font. They discovered it was whatever font the local newspaper used.

Having a variety of fonts may be entertaining but it is not useful.

---

DRM is the #1 cause of software failure today.

Re:Performance? (1)

Toonol (1057698) | more than 4 years ago | (#32103582)

It reminds me a lot of Flash, too... it's bypassing the central HTML paradigm in an attempt to allow the designer to force rendering style on the user. I get the feeling that these are people that would just as soon design web pages in PDF format, if they could get away with it.

Re:Performance? (1)

timeOday (582209) | more than 4 years ago | (#32104552)

it's bypassing the central HTML paradigm in an attempt to allow the designer to force rendering style on the user.

That idea mostly failed, and died. Most content producers do want control over how the content looks, and do a better job of it than client-side auto-layout ever did. The idea of rendering the same content anywhere from a billboard to a wristwatch isn't that useful anyways, since it turns out you general don't consume the same kinds of information due to constraints of different media. E.g. news and sports stories for mobile devices are often shorter, because people want it that way.

Coming soon... (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32102816)

all font related articles on /. will use Papyrus.

I don't know why they bother (4, Insightful)

0xdeadbeef (28836) | more than 4 years ago | (#32102876)

Every website in the world uses Verdana.

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

Re:I don't know why they bother (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32103940)

Yes, and everybody should use Windows too.

just embed them (2, Insightful)

kcwebmonkey (1351779) | more than 4 years ago | (#32102942)

I gave up a long time ago waiting on browsers to support this font and that font... now i just embed them with flash using sIFR -> http://www.mikeindustries.com/blog/sifr [mikeindustries.com]

Re:just embed them (1)

outsider007 (115534) | more than 4 years ago | (#32103032)

So you're the one who's been clogging my tubes.

Re:just embed them (3, Insightful)

spikeb (966663) | more than 4 years ago | (#32103038)

thanks for making the web a little more of a shitty place.

sIFR is expensive (1)

tepples (727027) | more than 4 years ago | (#32103272)

I gave up a long time ago waiting on browsers to support this font and that font... now i just embed them with flash using sIFR

From sIFR's manual [novemberborn.net] :

To export your new typeface, open the sifr.fla file (which is included with the download) in Flash Professional

From adobe.com [adobe.com] :

Flash Professional: $699

So I see sIFR as appropriate for sufficiently large commercial web sites (which can claim a copy of Flash as a business expense) but not for personal or otherwise non-commercial web sites.

Thanks! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32103284)

More stuff to filter with AdBlock+, thanks for pointing this out.

Do people really care about fonts? (1)

MobyDisk (75490) | more than 4 years ago | (#32102984)

Maybe my visual cortex is different from everyone else on the web. But I just don't get the font thing. Maybe it is like color blindness - font blindness?

Apart from recognizable trademark-style fonts that people use for a title page or a logo (Coca-cola, Snickers, Pacman) - do most people even care what font they are looking at? The number of fonts I have to select from is already darned annoying. I'm on a fresh Windows 7, and the list goes off the bottom of the screen. I don't think I can even tell the difference between most of them without a side-by-side comparison.

I think I need 3 fonts to get along just fine: 1 serif proportional, 1 sans serif proportional, 1 fixed-width. I really don't want my computer to start downloading and caching a gigabyte fonts because this web site designer thought Garamond expressed their idea better when I already downloaded Bookman, Century, Baskerville, Bodini, Times Roman, ...

Re:Do people really care about fonts? (1)

ceoyoyo (59147) | more than 4 years ago | (#32103104)

The example in the article is illuminating.

The only real difference is that they use a script font for the title instead of Verdana. Okay, a script font might have it's uses.

They use a (italic) serif font for the headings instead of sans serif. All right, I think that's a bad choice, but there are serif fonts available in the standard web selection. Other than that, at the resolution provided I couldn't seen any real differences.

Re:Do people really care about fonts? (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32103218)

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

Headline trade dress (1)

tepples (727027) | more than 4 years ago | (#32103318)

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

Yes, because web sites want their headlines to appear in the appropriate trade dress fonts. For example, a site about Precious Moments figurines would want to use the font Wasted Collection [windowfonts.com] for headlines, and a site about Animal Crossing video games would want to use Fink Heavy [houseind.com] .

Re:Do people really care about fonts? (3, Insightful)

radtea (464814) | more than 4 years ago | (#32103920)

I think I need 3 fonts to get along just fine

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

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

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

uh... (1)

DigitalSorceress (156609) | more than 4 years ago | (#32103106)

T hi s wi l l n oT eN d wEL l Welcome back to mid 90's-era "font-itis"

Re:uh... (1)

rainmayun (842754) | more than 4 years ago | (#32104382)

how'd you get that past the lameness filter? sorceress indeed...

Re:uh... (1)

Knara (9377) | more than 4 years ago | (#32104672)

Amateur websites will look like ass. Professional websites will look good. Just the same as always.

With any luck... (1)

tenco (773732) | more than 4 years ago | (#32103120)

...I can still let my browser render all websites with only 1 font and don't get a fucked up layout. If we are really lucky, there's a good font inside these packages to render math in a nice and readable way.

no please no (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32103516)

nnooooooooooo <huh> ooooooooo-ooooooohh.

Wow (1)

TooMad (967091) | more than 4 years ago | (#32103526)

A veritable font of information.

Yin and Yang... (2, Interesting)

frank_adrian314159 (469671) | more than 4 years ago | (#32103546)

On one hand, as a fan of typography, I'm happy to see that this gives talented web designers a powerful tool for clearer and more aesthetically pleasing display of information. On the other hand, there are still a lot of untalented web designers [thebiguglywebsite.com] around and it's more crap to download just to display a page. Whether the experience will be positive or negative will depend mainly on the size of the truck you have hauling your internet.

This is a big deal... really. (2, Informative)

CherniyVolk (513591) | more than 4 years ago | (#32103576)

Fonts are often taken for granted. People don't seem to realize how expensive fonts can get.

http://www.adobe.com/type/ - have a look around, some font sets are around 100 dollars a font, a bunch are pushing 400 and some of the most elegant script fonts hit well above 1,000 USD per font family... easy. Either way, when you tally them all up (who can live with just one or two), it's possible the most expensive treasure of print shops aren't their expensive Heidelberg presses but their vast fonts collection they are licensed to use in print and publication.

The numbers of fonts needed... by artists and professionals? Well, to gain a perspective... how many of them for free do you have on your computer? Printing departments have thousands of full font collections (condensed, bold, italic etc).

So when new fonts are made available for cheap/free, especially a full family of a given typeface, I am grateful even if the font is so-so. The Open Source community could benefit largely by being nice to budding typographers, this is for sure.

Re:This is a big deal... really. (1)

Reziac (43301) | more than 4 years ago | (#32104182)

Since you asked, I've collected over 17,000 fonts at last count. Yeah, I'm a bit of a font freak. :)

But my websites all use either 'default' or Arial, in the name of simple legibility. Since I can't dictate the viewer's hardware, software, and settings, it makes no sense to try to dictate the font, either.

It's not like print media, where every copy looks the same no matter how the reader handles it. (Well, maybe not after he uses it in the bottom of the birdcage :)

Re:This is a big deal... really. (2, Informative)

shaunbr (563633) | more than 4 years ago | (#32104734)

And if you want to embed a font from one of the major foundries into a piece of software (a video game, for example), you're starting to talk real money. I wanted to use a particular font from one of the major foundries in a project of mine. You can purchase the font for fairly cheap, but the license only allows the use of the font by one person, and limits what kinds of output can be done with it. I requested a quote for embedding a bitmap of the font into my project, and the lowest price they quoted was $2700 - and that was to embed one font, in one font face, at one font size, in a bitmap format only. Embedding the actual font would cost over $20k, plus additional royalties that would need to be negotiated based on the budget of the game and number of copies sold. And all this for a game I intended to release for free.

I don't even think the Open Source community has to step up to this -- if somebody would put together a foundry that makes reasonable fonts, and allows them to be licensed for use in Open Source or low price commercial software products for a fair price (less than $100 would be great), I'd be more than happy to give them my business.

Took long enough (3, Funny)

Intron (870560) | more than 4 years ago | (#32103648)

The font designers couldn't work with web technologies until recently. New AMD processors are finally hot enough to melt lead.

The real winners here are (1)

TravTrav (1236742) | more than 4 years ago | (#32103740)

the disabled. One of the best reasons for using web-fonts is the corresponding removal of text content from images, which were done to work around the lack of good web fonts. Search engines will also be a bit more accurate, so in a sense everybody wins.

obligatory link (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32103796)

obligatory link [diveintomark.org]

Great... (1)

Hamsterdan (815291) | more than 4 years ago | (#32103868)

Now it can help slow down my browser even more, as if googleanalytics and fsdn and other third parties weren't enough.

Having a fast connection doesn't mean squat if my browser has to connect to a dozen different servers just to render a page. If one of them is slow, it kinds defeats the goal of having a fast pipe.

There are only a couple of good fonts (1)

loufoque (1400831) | more than 4 years ago | (#32103958)

There are only a couple of good fonts, the rest doesn't render well at small sizes without antialiasing.

Uh... I use Lynx. What are "fonts"...??!? (1)

Richard Steiner (1585) | more than 4 years ago | (#32104296)

That a WYSIGYG thingie?

The Monotype approach is awful. (3, Informative)

Animats (122034) | more than 4 years ago | (#32104460)

The Monotype approach to web fonts shows the pain of the latest DRM scheme. You don't just embed their fonts. You have to register with their site, create a "project", associate your domains with the "project", specify which fonts you want to use (only some are free), specify to their web site which font goes with which CSS element, and put some of their Javascript on your site. Only then will their fonts work, and they're served from their servers.

One implication is that pages using their fonts will not archive properly. Another is that if their font servers are slow, so are your pages. And editing will be a pain; WYSISWYG editors may not display these fonts properly. (One would hope Adobe would get this right in Dreamweaver, but they'll probably try to tie Dreamweaver to some Adobe font system.)

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