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RE: the discussion is over, resistance time

From: Thomas Lord <lord@emf.net>
Date: Thu, 02 Jul 2009 13:22:15 -0700
To: Sylvain Galineau <sylvaing@microsoft.com>
Cc: Gustavo Ferreira <gustavo.ferreira@hipertipo.net>, "www-font@w3.org" <www-font@w3.org>
Message-Id: <1246566135.6767.110.camel@dell-desktop.example.com>
On Thu, 2009-07-02 at 19:30 +0000, Sylvain Galineau wrote:
> >In the case at hand, at least per Microsoft,
> >we are asked to accept the requirement of
> >using a new format on the web whose sole rationale
> >is that if other people want their programs to be
> >able to use web fonts, the programs must all be
> >changed to recognize the new format.   Programs
> >will become more bloated.  Users will encounter
> >needless conversion issues even when using publicly
> >licensed web fonts.   The maintenance burden of font
> >code in all these programs will go up.  No useful
> >functionality will be provided users that could not
> >be better provided by other means.
> >
> 1. I do not believe the cost of implementing any of the proposals I've seen justifies this argument.

We ought to consider the cost of implementation,
the cost of maintenance, the costs in terms of 
reliability (new code assures new bugs), the costs
in terms of taking more memory for more code especially
on smaller / lower-power devices, the costs to users
left puzzling over a new format and what works with
what and how to convert things, the costs to archivists
who must preserve additional tools for digital materials,
and so forth.

The costs are highly diffuse, certainly, but they
add up.

If standards orgs regularly adopted your attitude here,
they would quickly become useless.

> 2. Ascender's original proposal, for instance, would be trivial to implement.

Implementation is only a small fraction of the 
costs being imposed on the society.

> 3. Even if the solution was non-trivial, the combined expense on browser vendors is thoroughly dwarfed by the aggregate cost
> on all web authors and web sites of dealing with the current situation where they have to serve each font in two encodings,
> never mind the lost opportunity of using certain fonts for all browsers. The costs to web authors and the consequences for all users
> should come before the inconvenience of browser vendors, imo.

The costs of serving two formats, the lost opportunities
and so forth: those look from here to be costs imposed 
solely by Microsoft's intransigence on this issue.

Capitulating to that intransigence would damage W3C
and, I don't know about you, but I think that would be
the highest cost in the list.

> 4. As for all the other programs that may want to use web fonts, we are not exactly short of excellent free libraries allowing
> anyone to create, read and write every single format browsers support today e.g. JPEG, GIF etc. I don't see why this couldn't happen
> for fonts. Your argument could as well have been made for PNG and any number of other formats. I don't see why a trivial font encoding
> is any different in this respect, or how it suddenly pushes the world beyond some line of bloatedness. Never mind who defines bloat or how.

"Bloat" occurs over time by the accretion of many
needless non-features which accomplish poorly something
that could better be accomplished in simpler ways 
or in more general ways.   Perhaps my comment above
about the hidden costs of Microsoft's position are
helpful to you or perhaps not.

It is especially important to resist the incremental
accretion of bloat in standards processes because their
reach is so far and so lasting.   Of particular 
significance is that standards organizations play
an "iterated game," so that a sloppy compromise in
one standard sets a precedent that can be exploited 
to insist upon sloppy compromises in future standards
from the same org.  It's easy to get into a "race to 
the bottom".

> 5. Lastly, since your own proposal would involve the exact same kind of change by all software that wants to use web fonts, one would think it would be as bad an idea
> as any proposal that requires new code.

My proposal does not involve "the exact same kind of change".

The only thing in common is that my proposal would create
a file format, for files containing fonts, where that format
is not initially recognized by most programs.

Some key differences are that my proposal would add a 
very general and extensible bit of new utility that is
not more simply achieved by other means.  Comparing and
contrasting the content and quality of the rationale
statements that would go with the respective proposals
is a worthwhile thought experiment.

> As for font vendors, it is up to them to state whether their goals are satisfied by this or that proposal.

My perception here - my concern - is that I think I sense
Microsoft digging in its heels here purely reflexively
and in search of some kind of validation of its self-conception
of power and authority.

It looks from here like y'all are internally asking one
another "how do we feel about this TTF/OTF stuff" and people
are reflexively answering, in essence, "they can't make us
but we can prevent them, so 'No.'"  It may be dressed up
in rhetoric about protecting font makers but calmer and more
logical examinations of that "protection" have shown it
to be an illusion so I'm left with the sense of a power play
being made for the sake of asserting who, in Microsoft's 
opinion, is boss.

I'm sure that isn't Microsoft's official position or even
the conscious intent of you, or Chris Wilson, or most others.
That's just what the net effect of your collective reasoning
comes across as.

And I'm sure you *could*, if you wanted, respond by saying
"Hey, buddy, check yrself!  You are just trying to have the
other browser implementers dictate to MSFT and show them
that they're boss!"   But no, that wouldn't hold up either
in the sense that existing technical landscape and the 
technical details of the competing proposals are quite
asymmetric - and "our" side has the far more rational set
of proposals by all measures other than the political.

I don't know, at this point, how to extend an "open hand
rather than a closed fist" to Microsoft on this matter.
I *thought*, even perhaps a week ago, that serious progress
was being made and we were starting to get close to wrapping
this thing up with a productive outcome.   Now, at this late
date, it looks like you guys are just plugging your ears,
shouting "LA LA LA", and taking things back to the status
quo ante.   Only the status quo ante isn't necessarily 
available since quite a few people have spent a lot of time
and effort in this area on the assumption that Microsoft
might actually behave reasonably.

Received on Thursday, 2 July 2009 20:22:59 GMT

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