W3C home > Mailing lists > Public > www-style@w3.org > April 2006

Re: Downloadable fonts and image replacement

From: David Woolley <david@djwhome.demon.co.uk>
Date: Tue, 25 Apr 2006 07:48:30 +0100 (BST)
Message-Id: <200604250648.k3P6moV00668@djwhome.demon.co.uk>
To: www-style@w3.org

> 1. Is there a felt need on the part of web designers for a mechanism for
> fonts to be linked to web pages for better rendering of text instead of
> using static bitmaps?

My impression is that there isn't a demand, basically because accessibility
is a very low priority for designers and, given that they therefore 
primarily design to a fixed size, bitmaps give them total creative
control.

The other advantage to designers is that rendered font bitmaps tend to be
excluded from the scope of copyright legislation.

These sort of factors have also led to a degeneration in the use of
embedded fonts in PDF as well (and to the use of custom encoded fonts
which are only usable in full visual renderings).

> 3. If you used @font-face for web pages you have created, how would you
> use the font(s)?
> E.g. titles, body text, etc.

Speaking personally (and not as an employee) my main use of embedded
fonts would be to allow the display of CJK characters on out of the
box US and Western European browsers.

> 4. Fonts, especially those supporting multiple languages or East Asian
> languages can be quite large (long download time). If subsetting
> (providing only the needed characters) is not available would you still
> use the technology?

For my use, I would have a problem if I couldn't subset.  Also subsetting
helps with IPR concerns because it means that it is more difficult
to repurpose a downloaded font.

> 5. What would be your motivating factor for using a web font as opposed
> to creating an image or using a font that the user already has on their
> machine?

Scalability, cut and pastability, platform indempendence, and basically
it is the correct use of the technology.

> 6. What are the areas where font support in browsers needs improvement?

My suspicion is that full vector rendering, to allow one to do word art,
etc, would be required before most commercial designers came on board. 
That really goes beyond the scope of simple font handling.  As in a lot
of cases of de facto web authoring practices, designers have found a
technique (bitmaps) that meet their objectives, so will be very conservative
with respect to any improvements in font support.  (Note that one of
the most common uses of image replacements is to make links look like 
buttons, but not like standard buttons, and, at all costs, not like 
links!)

The other reason that designers reject embedded fonts is that the business
case normally includes support for at least one platform other than
Windows/IE, so the Windows/IE limitation of EOT is a problem.
Received on Tuesday, 25 April 2006 19:48:52 GMT

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