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Re: EOT & DMCA concerns

From: Tab Atkins Jr. <jackalmage@gmail.com>
Date: Wed, 5 Aug 2009 12:53:03 -0500
Message-ID: <dd0fbad0908051053p1cdeafd0o31a1728689f59745@mail.gmail.com>
To: Jonathan Kew <jonathan@jfkew.plus.com>
Cc: Sylvain Galineau <sylvaing@microsoft.com>, John Daggett <jdaggett@mozilla.com>, www-font <www-font@w3.org>
On Wed, Aug 5, 2009 at 12:10 PM, Jonathan Kew<jonathan@jfkew.plus.com> wrote:
> On 5 Aug 2009, at 17:10, Sylvain Galineau wrote:
>>> From: Jonathan Kew [mailto:jonathan@jfkew.plus.com]
>>> Sent: Wednesday, August 05, 2009 1:30 AM
>>
>>
>>> One concern I have is that if we all implement EOT-Lite (by whatever
>>> name) now, it will be more difficult for a new and better format to
>>> gain acceptance, and so we may end up with an inferior format in the
>>> long term for the sake of short-term gain.
>>
>> That assertion has been made before but I'm not sure why that's true ?
>
> If everyone implements EOTL now, then authors will naturally deploy EOTL
> fonts, because they'll work everywhere. That means that even if some of us
> implement another "better" format as well, authors are unlikely to bother
> deploying it because it won't work in legacy IE (or even current IE for a
> couple of years, perhaps). So the new format will not get any significant
> level of testing in the marketplace; and because EOTL will be the
> "universal" format in actual use on the web, there'll be little incentive
> for slower-moving vendors to bother supporting the new format at all.

This argument can be made for *any* format used for *anything* on the
web.  Most particularly, it could be made for image formats, of which
we have several that are all interoperably implemented and widely
used, and some new ones that are gaining acceptance as we speak.

If the new format has sufficient benefits, it will get used.  This is
well-proven fact.  If it doesn't have sufficient benefits, then it's
not really worth the effort, is it?

> On the other hand, if we define a web font format that provides tangible
> benefits (such as compression to reduce bandwidth requirements, and improved
> metadata support that many vendors would like), and do *not* rush to
> implement EOTL, there's a strong incentive for all parties to work towards
> support of the new format. Meanwhile, authors who wish to support web fonts
> on legacy IE browsers will need to deploy two formats for some time -- how
> long depends on Microsoft's business decisions, and on how slowly users
> upgrade, and on how concerned authors are about getting their chosen fonts
> to display in obsolete browsers. Is that such an unreasonable scenario?

The "strong incentive" is "we still can't use this crap in IE, so
let's get try and get it out fast enough to make IE9 at least".

While that's a valid incentive, I don't like it being waved in front
of my face.  If EOTL is supported quickly *and* a new format with
tangible benefits is created and supported, I don't have to suffer
pain for the sole purpose of lighting a fire under some asses.  If
these tangible benefits are indeed worthwhile, it will phase out EOTL.
 EOTL's sole claim to fame, really, is that it works in legacy IEs.

>> The data shows that Firefox, Safari and Opera users have a much faster
>> upgrade
>> cycle. There are many reasons for this, including the user population :
>> many IE
>> 'seats' are corporate/government for instance, and have very conservative
>> upgrade
>> policies.
>
> Perhaps if those corporate/government 'seats' are so slow to upgrade, they
> might also have relatively little interest in an explosion of downloaded
> font use, and be happy for the stability of continuing to see everything in
> Verdana et al.

I've run into some technical difficulties with my company's
visitor-stat service, but last time I checked we were seeing roughly
the same percentages as everybody else web-wide.  We sell software for
small businesses (*very* small) - I doubt a substantial number of them
are corp or gov.  I generally ignore our IE6 viewers now, but IE7 is
still at least a quarter of our market, and those people are
customers.  Advertising would want them to see the same thing as
people using more modern browsers.

>> As it generally takes 18 months for a new IE release to replace 50% of
>> its installed base and IE9 is no less than two years away, this is a long
>> time for
>> authors and font vendors to wait. This is also what makes EOTL relatively
>> more attractive,
>> despite known IE bugs. Whether the trade-off is worth it in practice
>> really depends on authors.
>>
>>> I don't think it is reasonable to let the outcome be dictated by an
>>> assumption that "IE users can't be expected to upgrade in order to see
>>> standard linked fonts; users of other browsers can".
>>
>> It's not an assumption. It's a fact. Our installed base is very large and
>> a significant fraction of it upgrades at a very slow pace.
>
> And those who upgrade at a very slow pace should not expect to see the
> latest glitzy web features in their browser.

Those who upgrade at a slow pace are usually not tech-savvy, but
they're still customers that need to be served as close to an optimal
experience as we can.  This isn't always possible, but I shoot for it
as strongly as I can in my job, and have forced Advertising to modify
their design before when I literally can't do it (without compromising
my integrity).

>>> Microsoft is just as capable as any other vendor of delivering an upgrade
>>> that adds
>>> support for a new font format, especially if it is a simple-to-
>>> implement format such as .zot or .webfont.
>>
>> Even if we could just code up new features and push them in the upgrade
>> pipeline at will
>> (which we can't and many of our paying customers have no desire for) that
>> does not make
>> people deploy those bits any faster.
>>
>>> It comes down to vendor priorities and resource allocation, and user
>>> choice.
>>
>> Precisely. And many of our users do choose to upgrade slowly.
>
> Fine. That's their choice. Then why are we trying so hard to deploy new
> fonts to them?

Because it doesn't actually appear to be a choice - if it was, I'd be
in the chorus singing "Fuck 'em!".  For a lot of them, they just don't
know any better.  They click on the e to bring up the internet, and
that's that.

~TJ
Received on Wednesday, 5 August 2009 17:54:03 GMT

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