W3C home > Mailing lists > Public > www-svg@w3.org > October 2011

Revisiting SVG Fonts

From: Charles Pritchard <chuck@jumis.com>
Date: Mon, 31 Oct 2011 12:30:33 -0700
Message-ID: <4EAEF759.8050401@jumis.com>
To: www-svg@w3.org
I wanted to bring forward my strongest disagreement with Mozilla's 
stance against SVG font support. Their stance has been shared by Robert 
O'Callahan (roc) several times. They do not want to see SVG fonts used 
as an alternative to WOFF. WOFF is certainly more powerful and expressive.

And I understand that SVG fonts do not support various items that would 
make them a worthwhile alternative -- such as supporting semantics to 
render full color emoji.

That said: there is a high barrier to entry when working with binary 
formats. I can't -quite- be helped with PNG, but SVG does do something 
about that -- it allows hand coding of images in ASCII format, and it 
still permits raster images to be included.

There is a high barrier to entry for designing and generating WOFF. I 
understand that programmers such as myself can setup web services to 
convert an SVG font into WOFF. I can even write it on the client side. 
But man that's a lot of work, and I don't expect new users to find it 
easily or palatable.

Meanwhile: creating an SVG font is as easy as creating an SVG. It can 
even be debugged right there, in real time, in the browser. One could 
easily write a program to allow drawing in SVG, and exporting those 
glyphs as an SVG font. All of this is ASCII/DOMString compatible. WOFF 
is not. It's not easily interchanged, not easily supported on the 
server-side.

With all due respect to WOFF, it's far too formal for many basic use 
cases. I know that Mozilla is aware of the formalism. I suspect they've 
held their ground because they believe the formalism forces a level of 
accessibility not otherwise attainable. I believe in accessibility for 
the end user. But I'm afraid, when taken too far, it means burdensome 
obfuscation for the author, the speaker.

I urge Mozilla to reconsider SVG Fonts for the sake of authors. Authors 
who may be trying to support minority scripts, minority languages and 
special cases and sociolects for fonts.

It's just so much easier to use SVG Fonts for basic cases than to go 
through the necessary actions to use WOFF.

Again, I know there's no hinting, and all that other stuff. It's really 
not been an issue in -any- of the use cases I've had for SVG Fonts. In 
contrast, compiling and working with a complex binary format, that has 
been an issue. I'm very experienced with what I do, but it's still a lot 
of work for me. I consider that an undue burden on other authors trying 
to support glyphs.

-Charles
Received on Monday, 31 October 2011 19:30:54 GMT

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