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

Re: CSS21 @font-face removal

From: Andrew Thompson <lordpixel@mac.com>
Date: Tue, 21 Oct 2003 00:17:15 -0400
To: www style <www-style@w3.org>
Message-Id: <73D1BDFE-037D-11D8-BDB0-000A27D7D9DC@mac.com>


On Monday, Oct 20, 2003, at 16:38 America/New_York, Tex Texin wrote:

>
> Expecting users to supply a font may be reasonable but it does raise 
> the bar
> for users to access the page-
> They need to have access to a font, understand how to install it, have
> privileges to install it, and be comfortable with the risk of 
> installing it.
>
> Today many users are taught not to install things from the web- too 
> many bad
> things out there.
>
> There are a few things they do trust to install such as browser 
> plug-ins and
> the certification process.
> If fonts were as automated and easy to install as plug-ins, and as 
> trustworthy
> and risk-reduced if not risk-free, then pages in other languages would 
> be more
> accessible to people.

Actually, Mac OS X at least can activate a font from memory, so there's 
no need to actually install anything. I would be surprised if Windows 
cannot manage this trick too. Of course, one may wish to offer an 
option to install the font to avoid downloading it over and over.

Assuming someone added an implementation to a browser, this wouldn't 
really help though.
The problem is most page authors wouldn't be licensed to distribute the 
fonts they use.
However there are good freely distributable fonts around for many 
minority languages, and these are currently being excluded by the lack 
of any implementation.

The look of a page is a very important point. I recently had an email 
exchange with a Greek classics professor who was trying to make the 
jump to Unicode and handle the problems of presenting Classical Greek 
on the web: dealing with encoding and both OS and browser level font 
substitution. Not any easy subject, nor one with easy answers. She 
ended up offering a link to decent fonts from her homepage, but 
something automatic would be much better. She wanted to present a good 
looking user experience, not a huge mess of different fonts, and she 
wanted to handle the technical details for her readers. Unfortunately 
current web technology can't really cut it.

Its sad in a way, that the version 4 browsers so royally screwed up in 
this area. If I recall correctly there was no compatibility between the 
two schemes used by UE and Netscape. There were no Mac tools for the IE 
version of the font embedding tools. At least one of the technologies 
was encumbered with what we'd now call DRM: the fonts were locked to 
the page that used them.

On the plus side, the tools would extract only those characters from 
the fonts that were actually used. This could matter a lot as a large 
Unicode font tends to have around 30,000 glyphs and weigh in at 
multiple megabytes. Can't say I'd relish having to regenerate my 
embedded fonts every time I typed new text into a page though: so some 
sort of balance needs to be struck.

Getting this right is hard.
Making a simple implementation for getting those minority languages 
into a position where they could be rendered using freely distributable 
fonts is probably much simpler.

AndyT (lordpixel - the cat who walks through walls)
A little bigger on the inside

         (see you later space cowboy ...)
Received on Tuesday, 21 October 2003 00:17:19 GMT

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