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Re: CSS21 @font-face removal

From: Henri Sivonen <hsivonen@iki.fi>
Date: Thu, 6 Nov 2003 22:14:25 +0200
Cc: www style <www-style@w3.org>, W3c I18n Group <w3c-i18n-ig@w3.org>
To: Tex Texin <tex@i18nguy.com>
Message-Id: <D13A308E-1095-11D8-B2EB-003065B8CF0E@iki.fi>

On Tuesday, Oct 21, 2003, at 08:21 Europe/Helsinki, Tex Texin wrote:

> I am afraid I don't understand why most everyone is so gloomy on the 
> prospect
> of a font being sufficient to enable users of minority scripts.

I'm gloomy about font embedding/automatic downloading, because:
  * Considering the precedent with non-CJK Asian scripts, I think font 
    is likely to be abused in a way that actually harms Web accessibility
    of some scripts. (Prolonging the Latin gibberish approach.)

  * Internet Explorer has a large installed base and it has working 
    for font embedding at least for the Windows-1252 repertoire. That is,
    there's already a large population of users with a user agent that 
    font downloading. Still, as far as I know, font embedding isn't used 
    by Western designers. It's not like designers shy away from features 
    just because they are IE-specific. Perhaps there is something 
    about font embedding that outweighs the attractiveness of visual 
    Something that runs deeper than the currently available method being

  * Font foundries don't want their fonts distributed for free for 
    Compared to some other jurisdictions which don't have any official 
    relaxation for fonts, the U.S. Copyright Office stance that a 
    produced with a font is not subject to copyright is actually rather 
    However, because of this, the font foundries tend to take the stance 
    hinted fonts constitute software, which in turn has exceptionally 
    corporate protection. Even if font embedding was technically 
feasible, what's
    the point in putting effort into implementing something that almost 
no one
    dares use because of legal issues?

  * Designers tend to pick fonts they believe "everyone" has. This 
    mainly Times New Roman, Arial, Verdana and sometimes Georgia. Western
    designers in general aren't even using the full font repertoire of 
    and Mac OS, because they seem to think consistency across "all" 
    is more important than picking something less trite that might look
    different for different readers. Since designers wouldn't be able to 
    sure embedded fonts work *everywhere*, why would the designers 
choose to
    embed different fonts if they don't dare to use fonts that a 
    number of people (but not the supposed "everyone") already has 
    What's the point in putting effort into font downloading until
    designers embrace the idea that it is OK to have different 
    in different environments? (I think it is unrealistic to expect that
    CSS WG-endorsed font referencing would guarantee the same 
    everywhere and alleviate the designer concern for sameness.)

  * Fonts are rather large (in bytes) relative to the size of usual Web 
    The time it takes to download the font may be perceived to be too 
    compared to downloading the text. I don't believe font embedding 
    actually in practice solve anything for people who want to read 
Chinese in a
    university in England. The CJK font sizes are just too large compared
    to the size of the main content of usual web pages. Also, does 
anyone want
    a flash of unfontified content (compare with the flash of unstyled 
    Deferring the display of the page until the font has arrived would 
be a bad
    solution. However, a sudden font change after the reader has started 
    the page would be bad, too.

Henri Sivonen
Received on Thursday, 6 November 2003 15:14:28 GMT

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