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Re: The unmentionable

From: John Hudson <tiro@tiro.com>
Date: Wed, 29 Jul 2009 13:54:30 -0700
Message-ID: <4A70B706.7000508@tiro.com>
CC: www-font@w3.org
Dirk Pranke wrote:

> Second, a point of terminology to ensure that we're on the same page
> (my terminology, that is; I don't know if there is a standard
> vocabulary that I should be using). While everyone who touches the web
> is a "user" in some sense, if I do not otherwise qualify the word it
> refers to someone viewing a web page. Someone who is creating the web
> page is an author or a producer. Someone who is hosting the site is
> the "host" or the "site provider".

> The whole web font discussion is irrelevant to users qua users, who
> presumably don't know or care what format their content is in, just as
> when I view a web page I don't care if the graphic I'm looking at is a
> PNG or a GIF. The issue gets sticky when users also start to become
> authors.

Agreed. Unsurprisingly perhaps, when I say user, I usually mean a font 
user, i.e. the person who is using the font to create or display text, 
not the person who is reading the text. So my users are your authors, 
and some of my clients are also your authors.

> As to seeing the users do the wrong thing, I also have seen a
> tremendous number of people pirate MP3s, but that doesn't mean that
> iTunes and Amazon are now doing the wrong thing by selling files in
> that format. 

Fonts are not music. Fonts are tools. Music is a consumable. The market 
for fonts is a professional design market. The market for music is 
pretty much everyone. Fonts have value to the customer in relative or 
absolute exclusivity (the fact that we put a price on exclusivity and 
clients pay this price is sufficient evidence of this). Music has no 
value in exclusivity to the customer.

I would not put an apple on the web in an orange wrapper. :)

> Fair enough. Whether or not this benefit offsets the confusion and
> inconvenience that introducing a new font file type will cause to
> casual authors, I don't know.

In the grand scale of a casual author needing to make sense of CSS and 
HTML, a font file extension seems pretty insignificant.

My wife taught web publishing for many years, to both amateurs and 
would-be professionals. The people who get CSS and HTML will get a font 
file extension, and the people who don't get a font file extension 
probably won't get much else either. This creates a market for services 
and tools that hide the code from the casual author, so they can just 
sit down and write. Such services and tools can just as easily hide the 
font format.

> Introduces
> a new font file type means that I have to either use a different
> version of my font, or run it through a conversion tool. Not a big
> hurdle, but a hurdle nonetheless.

Fair enough. Cue the Word extension/plug-in complete with 'purchase web 
font license' button. Perhaps Ascender are already working on it....

> In addition, there will probably be market demand for HTML editors
> that can handle webfonts natively, which will probably encourage this
> feature to get baked into the operating system. At which point, the
> useful distinction between the two fonts becomes moot, so why bother
> in the first place? (Again, others have given this line of argument
> before).

I don't think native support in HTML editing tools necessarily implies 
'baked into the operating system'. But I'd be inclined to burn that 
bridge when we come to it. At this point, the arguments start to become 
too speculative for my liking.

> If I do need to obtain a new copy of a font that is dual-licensed, why
> not just create a new OTF file that has the appropriate added to it?
> Why make the author have to manage both formats? I remember back in
> the 90s having to juggle different font formats between macs, windows,
> and unix, and it was a pain, so it seems understandable that people in
> the "just use TTF/OTF" camp see these proposals as a step backward.

And yet font makers, who had the nightmare job of managing workflows for 
all those different font formats, see these proposals as the only way 
forward.


I'm getting tired -- it is very hot here -- and I need to go and work on 
a typeface, so this might be my contribution for the day. In any case, I 
suspect I will only repeat myself if we continue along these lines.

Can we get back to talking about EOT Lite?

JH
Received on Wednesday, 29 July 2009 20:55:15 GMT

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