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

Re: CSS21 @font-face removal

From: Tex Texin <tex@i18nguy.com>
Date: Tue, 21 Oct 2003 01:21:01 -0400
Message-ID: <3F94C23D.42C78526@i18nguy.com>
To: Andrew Thompson <lordpixel@mac.com>
Cc: www style <www-style@w3.org>, W3c I18n Group <w3c-i18n-ig@w3.org>

Thanks Andrew good points.
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.

Yes, some operating systems will do more and some will not do enough.
Same for browsers.
Some languages use complex scripts and require advanced rendering systems.
Others don't.

Some sites will not offer fonts. Others will not offer fonts but point to
vendors that do.
Some will offer fonts.

Some authors and some content require precise layout and typography. Others

For all the pages that require advanced system support, browsers with complex
rendering, precise layout and typography and/or a font that is not freely
available, a simple downloadable font mechanism is not a solution.

However, for the market where there are much simpler requirements and have a
font that can be distributed or for which the site licenses the rights to
distribute the font, then a relatively automatic font-downloading mechanism
makes pages accessible to a community that would otherwise never be able to use
their language skills.

I'll draw people's attention to the Candian government's pages for inuktitut:


and it has a page for downloading fonts

The language is simple to render and so once a font is provided, users can read
the language.
In fact non-readers can learn the language and travelers to the Canadian North
often try to pick up some of the language and writing. It's part of the

However, although I have no data, I am willing to bet that some users are
intimidated by the thought of downloading and installing a font, even from a
seemingly trustworthy site such as the Canadian Government.

On a separate note, I would turn one point on its head. Imagine how much
improved the look and feel of some sites would be  and how much creativity
would be given to authors, if in fact they could build pages knowing that a
specific font or fonts would be available for rendering the page! What a boon
to authors that are careful with typography and layout and what an opportunity
for people to do some wildly novel pages if they can leverage highly styled and
unusual fonts! 
Isn't everyone frustrated by having to name the same 3 or 4 fonts, because we
are sure that at least one exists on each possible platform, instead of
choosing the fonts we prefer and making them available to anyone accessing our
It would be a nice boon to the font industry as well, if they can start selling
specialized fonts that web authors can use with their stylized pages. 

And to bring in back to i18n what a wonderful solution for those of us
struggling to figure out which fonts are available on which operating systems
for each language we work with, (a question I still don't know the answer to,
despite being in the industry for years) if we can purchase a set of fonts with
similar look and feel for all the languages we use and be able to use them with
consistency on all of our pages...

Ah well. Maybe I had too much coffee tonite.

If you are the cat that walks thru walls, does that mean you are Schroedinger's

Andrew Thompson wrote:
> 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 ...)

Tex Texin   cell: +1 781 789 1898   mailto:Tex@XenCraft.com
Xen Master                          http://www.i18nGuy.com
XenCraft		            http://www.XenCraft.com
Making e-Business Work Around the World
Received on Tuesday, 21 October 2003 01:21:34 UTC

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