W3C home > Mailing lists > Public > www-style@w3.org > November 2003

Re: CSS21 @font-face removal

From: Chris Lilley <chris@w3.org>
Date: Tue, 4 Nov 2003 01:02:31 +0100
Message-ID: <1022296851.20031104010231@w3.org>
To: Robert Boles <raboles@kent.edu>
Cc: www-style@w3.org

On Saturday, October 25, 2003, 9:16:17 PM, Robert wrote:

(someone said)

 >>As I said in another reply, I think designers think that text as
 >>GIF fulfils their purpose and is more flexible,

It fulfils the purpose of conveying a one-shot, visual rendition of
text pinned to a particular background image in a particular color at
a particular pixel size, that is not editable, not reflowable, not
searchable, and not translatable.

RB> As a graduate student in graphic design, please understand that I don't
RB> grasp all the nuances of why embedded fonts must be active with a user's
RB> system when SVG and SWF can embed font sets, but my point is more broad.

You are correct that SWF, SVG, PDF , MS Word and assorted other
formats can embed fonts and thus, are not restricted to the fonts
installed on a particular system.

RB> Most of the work I do with identity systems depends heavily on 
RB> typographic consistency across all media, and often I start an identity
RB> system with the design of a specialized font for the client. It is
RB> nearly impossible, without font embedding tools from Microsoft and the
RB> TrueDoc, to keep this consistency in the medium that my clients would
RB> arguably get the most exposure - the Web. Even these tools do not create
RB> a universal solution.

Yes. They address a subset of the potential viewing public, and
fallback to some other, system font. So you cannot guarantee that
everyone sees the same typography. Coca Cola would probably be rather
upset if 40% of their bottles and cans had the corporate font and the
other 60% used Courier.

RB> Therefore GIF text is, in fact, more flexible for
RB> the purpose of identity consistency, if not for efficient downloading.

It does give you visual consistency. Its also a lot of work, makes
site revision and maintenance troublesome, and means that you just
removed that text from exposure to the major way people find pages - a
search engine.

RB> That said, I cannot possibly render long texts as a GIF because that
RB> would be completely ridiculous.

Agreed (though people still do it, for example on sidebars in a small
font, to get control of how it is rasterized and spaced).

RB> Where does that leave designers?


RB> I understand that designers like me consistently complain and cannot
RB> possibly offer any solutions in the realm of making this feature a
RB> possibility from a technical standpoint. Although this concern for
RB> typographic consistency and the ability to implement fonts of my 
RB> creation, not just those available through purchase, is huge.

You can help buy continuing to point out the need, which is a
necessary counterbalance to those folks who seem to see visual design
as an optional extra.

RB> Will SVG work to solve this solution,

Yes, it solves this in large part already, although so far the format
itself is only taken up by SVG renderers (clearly it can be applied to
other text too, that is one of the benefits of using a standard font
descriptor syntax like CSS2.

RB> or has the Web taken a huge step
RB> backward by deprecating @font-src:url?

It has, yes, but then you could also say that lack of implementation
effort in the legacy HTML browsers is the main cause of this backwards
step. Its not that others took a step forward, its that the legacy
browsers didn't take that step at the same time.

RB> I can't tell if SVG is simply a
RB> graphics format with text that is editable from the page source,

Its editable from the page source, yes its also selectable by the
user, searchable, and can be altered on the fly by scripts on the
client or content generation systems on the server.

RB>  or if
RB> this is going to pick up where CSS is abandoning font embedding

I think SVG could well pick up where CSS is abandoning font embedding,

RB> (remember, be nice to me despite my ignorance [Chris] I'm not a 
RB> technologist, I'm a lowly designer).

We need more graphics designers on this list, and more of the ones
that are here should speak up. Don't underestimate the part you can
play in the future development of the Web. You don't have lowly
skills, you have different skills, and ones that are sorely lacking as
input to the technological process.

RB>  What can the design community do to
RB> help make this a reality?

Communication like this is a start.

Working to help create good examples is another way.

Championing the cause of skillful visual communications and the need
for better dialogue between technologists and designers is another

RB> This is our MAIN concern for the Web right now, and every designer
RB> I know can't believe that this is still not possible.

RB> Robert Boles
RB> Kent State University
RB> School of Visual Comunication Design

 Chris                            mailto:chris@w3.org
Received on Monday, 3 November 2003 19:02:51 UTC

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