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Re: Web Fonts

From: David Woolley <david@djwhome.demon.co.uk>
Date: Fri, 18 Aug 2006 07:44:28 +0100 (BST)
Message-Id: <200608180644.k7I6iSF19896@djwhome.demon.co.uk>
To: www-style@w3.org

> Looking at the Web Fonts spec, it seems to me that it is way too  
> complex right now (and that this is probably a significant reason  
> that it hasn't seen more success in being implemented).

I don't think this is the real problem.  The CSS2 web fonts specification
is implemented in IE, at least to the level that IE handles font selection
according to the standard (which is far from perfect) for local fonts,
but its main use, so far, seems to be for misrepresenting character
codes in order to represent less commercially attractive (to OS and
browser developers) language scripts, such as many Indian languages,
on 8 bit character platforms, and legacy sites.

Although there may be an element of lack of technical ability in 
authors, I think the real reasons are:

In modern de facto commercial web site design text is either body text,
which is often in 7 x 5 or 7 x 4 matrices on typical user displays (most
web pages are not designed to be sensibly printable - and certainly not
for people without perfect vision), or is display text.

For body text at modern designer sizes, almost any font will produce the
same display bitmap, typically because a fallback bit map font is used.
Users who disable font sizes will normally break typical designs so
badly that having a pretty font will be the least of their worries.

For display text, the designer is usually not content with simple font
rendering, and won't generally care about scalability, so, even if they
knew all their desired fonts were available on the target platform,
they would would still use images.

Vector formats might help, but commercial factors mean that there is
no universal format, and, in any case, designers, and vendors, perceive
vector graphics to mean animation these days, so don't consider them
for static images (it's surprising the number of PDF documents that
have bitmap images of line diagrams and charts, and probably of display
text).  Getting the best out of vector graphics for fonts, tends to
involve mathematical, as well as artistic thinking.

Also, print images of text are normally considered immune from the
copyrights on the font (in traditional type, it is the moulds that
are protected).  This has been generally interpreted as also applying
to bitmaps of computer text.  So, by using images of text, designers
are avoiding copyright issues.  (IANAL TINLA) (If you send a PDF file
containing a commercial font to a typesetting bureau, the licensing
for the fot will often require that the bureau has its own licence for
the font!)

The de facto need to impose DRM on fonts also requires a
technical skill for designers that is not natural to them.
Received on Friday, 18 August 2006 06:47:30 GMT

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