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RE: Fonts WG Charter feedback

From: Chris Wilson <Chris.Wilson@microsoft.com>
Date: Wed, 1 Jul 2009 22:25:06 +0000
To: Håkon Wium Lie <howcome@opera.com>, "www-font@w3.org" <www-font@w3.org>
CC: Dave Crossland <dave@lab6.com>, Stephen Zilles <szilles@adobe.com>, Thomas Phinney <tphinney@cal.berkeley.edu>
Message-ID: <61027177C88032458A7862054B3C62580582C3@TK5EX14MBXW652.wingroup.windeploy.ntdev.microsoft.com>
(Moving thread to www-font)
Håkon Wium Lie wrote:
>W3C Recommendations are of little use unless they eventually provide
>interoperability. This time around -- hooray! -- the implementations
>/are/ interoperable.

Sadly, not with the bulk of the actual fonts out there, but hey.

>Browsers should strive to support the same formats. This will make the
>work of web designers easier. The more font formats there are, the
>higher the risk of non-interoperability.

Here, we agree on something.  Unfortunately, that doesn't mean we agree about what that format should be.

> > So creating a Font Working Group says nothing about the basic CSS
> > specification for Web Fonts. Therefore, it seems disingenuous to
> > say that creating a Font Working Group is saying something about
> > the readiness of Web Fonts.
>Creating a new Fonts WG will steal the thunder from the current

I care much less for current "implementations" - Microsoft's included - when it comes to coming up with a solution that is actually palatable.

>(The situation is remarkably similar to the creation of the W3C XSL WG
>in 1998, which -- I believe -- sent a "wait, style sheets are not
>ready yet"-message. This slowed the adoption of CSS, which, in turn,
>slowed the adoption of other W3C specs. At that point, the situation
>could easily have been rectified by not using the word "style" in the
>the name of the new group. Likewise, there is a simple solution this
>time, too. See below.)

No, this is not an appropriate analogy, because XSL was essentially a competitor to CSS.  The font format is not a competitor to CSS' @font-face; in fact, it is dependent on it.  If the W3C had released a spec for OpenType, that might be different.

>As mentioned previously, I'd also consider a new format now if IE
>commits to interoperability with the other browsers. If Microsoft does
>not make that interoperability commitment, they should not be rewarded
>with a new Font WG.

If a new format is designed that satisfies the needs of font vendors (Microsoft included), then I should think* that Microsoft would want to implement that format, in keeping with its Interoperability Principles (http://www.microsoft.com/interop/principles/default.mspx) and the IE team's general push to interoperably implement standards.  You (Håkon) have tried to twist commitments around webfonts to include Microsoft implementing raw TTF/OTF linking, though, and I want to be clear I have yet to see any reason that would convince Microsoft to implement such a thing; I am only talking about support for a new format that satisfies the needs of commercial font vendors as well as freeware fonts.

Personally, given the IE deployment cycle**, I think Ascender's latest proposal (posted it on Typophile: http://typophile.com/node/59489
and on FontEmbedding.com site: http://blog.fontembedding.com/post/2009/06/29/Revised-Web-Fonts-Proposal.aspx) is a really good idea.  What is your response to this?


* Note that I am not on the Internet Explorer team, and cannot speak authoritatively for them in any case, even if I wanted to; however, I am an open standards advocate inside the company with some small amount of influence.

** Random back-of-envelope guesswork, based on data from marketshare.com: IE takes approximately 18 months to convert 50% of its users to a new version.  IE has been on an approximately 24-month ship cycle for the last two releases; let's presume that continues.  IE share has been declining approximately 8%/year for the last 2 years; let's presume that continues, too.  Even IF IE ships support for a new format in its next release, and guess that release is apprx 24 mo out, then you're looking at close to 5 years from today before you can really count IE that doesn't support that format as irrelevant (this presumes you can push the same format out and fully deploy it to all Firefox/Safari/Chrome/Opera users in that time frame).  Obviously, if the format is controversial enough that it is not implemented in the next version of IE, you slip another 2 years at one go.  (This is all presuming that IE ships every two years, which is not a given nor a statement that I'm making - as I said, I'm no longer on that team.)

In short, rather than thinking of this as "giving Microsoft an advantage," you should consider that it is a distinct advantage to web developers and designers if the eventual format is compatible with IE's current EOT implementation, and you might consider focusing on the real challenge - enabling commercial fonts, with the concerns about DCMA etc that you have - instead of penalizing Microsoft.
Received on Wednesday, 1 July 2009 22:27:24 UTC

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