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 21:28:27 +0100 (BST)
Message-Id: <200604252028.k3PKSlP01265@djwhome.demon.co.uk>
To: www-style@w3.org

> I recently tried embedding a GPL'ed font with my XHTML-based slides 
> using the Microsoft EOT solution [1], which subsets the font to 
> match the associated web page. I have now given that up due to the 

You can use the tools to generate explicit and even improper subsets.
You are not limited to the minimum subset.

In my view, sub-setting is important, because character sets are
growing and fonts can be quite large, compared with a well written
web page.

> other web pages. The very limited use of EOT files despite the very 
> high market penetration of IE6 for Windows suggests that I am not 
> alone with my experience.

I think it has much more to do with authoring with embedded fonts not
being a WYSIWYG process and the desire to do more with text as images 
than conventional typography.  For designers, who think visually, the
process is too language oriented.

> [1]. There are plenty of fonts with open licenses that are perfectly 
> good for most purposes, so a DRM-based solution isn't high on my 
> wish list.

Caution: I think I've come across some which don't have accurate
licensing tags; at the very least, any whole font technology is going
to have to reject any font that is not explicitly flagged as fully 
redistributable, otherwise there will be a big lobby against it by
the font industry.

Historically, the only browser families that I'm aware of as having
font download support have been from fully commercial organisations.
It is the nature of such organisations that they tend to design to
support other commercial organisations, so there was, historically
at least, a strong incentive to implement DRM and none to do
simple downloads.

> 
> appreciated. I would expect to see continued use of text in images 
> for some purposes, although this would be reduced if it were easier 
> to use SVG for combined text and graphics, e.g. for buttons and 

Unfortunately static SVG is dead because it isn't compatible with
MS business plans.  SVG is rapidly becoming Flash for mobile phones.

> decorative headings. Browser support for using SVG as CSS
> backgrounds would be very helpful in that regard.
> 
> Once you have gone to the effort of creating text in images, I
> see little additional benefit from being able to use embeddable
> fonts for the same elements. The question is more whether the

And as one will need (because commercial pages aren't about content) 
to do so until browsers supporting the new standard are in a small
minority, it will be a long time before there will any likelihood of
a change.

> "standard" browser fonts are adequate, or whether a specially
> selected font is justified for this particular web page.

For commercial pages, being different is an imperative.  It's long
past the time when the "web fonts" were considered different, so
I think that you can expect heavy use of any mechanism percieved
better than text as images.

> element as appropriate so this isn't a major problem. For headings 

Why just headings.  Windows XP, whilst it comes with CJK fonts, doesn't
have them installed by default in Western versions.

> in asian fonts, the file size for the complete font gets rather 
> large. If there was an easy way to subset the font, then there would 

Around 10MB for a good one!  Sub-setting is essential.

> be benefits for using embedded fonts in place of images. This is 

One particular benefit of using fonts rather than bitmaps is that they
scale for high resolution printing.  This is particularly true of CJK
fonts, were even 24px fonts can be lacking the resolution to display
some characters well.

> another reason why being able to directly reference a font file 
> makes sense.
> 
> supported. Extending the background-image and content properties to 
> support a comma separated list would be an interesting possibility.

I don't understand the reference to background.  There are very few
proper uses of markup which would require text as backgrounds.
Received on Tuesday, 25 April 2006 20:40:00 GMT

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