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WOFF FAQ (action 29)

From: John Hudson <tiro@tiro.com>
Date: Wed, 27 Oct 2010 13:15:57 -0700
Message-ID: <4CC8887D.6030400@tiro.com>
To: 3668 FONT <public-webfonts-wg@w3.org>
This is the proposed revised text for the WOFF FAQ, the current version
of which can be seen here: http://www.w3.org/Fonts/WOFF-FAQ

I'd like to add to section 4 mention of the existence of the WOFF test
suite as a benefit, but am not sure how to word this.

Please provide feedback and suggestions.

JH


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1. What is WOFF?

Web Open Font Format (WOFF) is an open delivery format for Web served
typography, or 'Web fonts'. Using WOFF files, a Web author can reference
a font in CSS and have it downloaded with the HTML or other Web content
and used to display text in a reader's browser. The content of the WOFF
file may be a font that the author has licensed as a WOFF or converted
from an appropriately licensed desktop format font, or even a font that
the author has created.

Until now, Web served typography has not been common on the Web due to
the lack of an interoperable font format; most text on the Web has
relied on a limited number of fonts locally installed on the reader's
device, or has been represented by images or other approaches that
inhibit searchability, accessibility and other text operations such as
cutting and pasting. WOFF provides a compact, open solution to these issues.


2. What isn't WOFF?

WOFF is not a new font format. It is a delivery format, like a package
containing a font. A WOFF package, or wrapper, contains a compressed
TrueType or OpenType font, and some metadata. It is helpful to think of
the metadata as labels on the package, indicating where the WOFF comes
from and where it is meant to go.

WOFF is not a desktop installable font format. It is specifically
intended for Web delivery of fonts associated with particular sites and
content, and will not be available to the user to install or use with
other documents.


3. What are the general benefits of Web served typography?

 An enhanced typographic palette on the Web
 Preservation of brand identity through cross-media typographic design
 More sophisticated typography using advanced layout features such as
smallcap variants, 'oldstyle' numerals, etc. available in some fonts
(accessible using CSS3 typography)
 Better internationalisation and more options for typography of
non-European text
 Better accessibility (real text can be read; images of text cannot)
 Better searchability and search engine optimisation (real text can be
searched and indexed; images of text cannot)


4. What are the specific benefits of WOFF?

 A single, open and interoperable format for Web served fonts
 A formally defined and documented W3C Web file format
 In-format compression for smaller font deliveries and shorter download
times
 Improved user experience (smaller file sizes means faster page loading)
 Improved security for users (fonts are loaded only from the same
source as the other page content)
 Protection of author's font asset investment (fonts cannot be
'hotlinked' by other sites)
 Web font information easily accessible to web authors and users from
WOFF metadata


5. Do you have demos or examples that show WOFF?

The text of page you are reading is formatted using WOFF (if your
browser supports it).

There are several pages by Jonathan Kew and John Daggett of Mozilla, and
by Sylvain Galineau and others of Microsoft, which demonstrate WOFF
fonts. Although they are designed to showcase that company's browser
(Firefox 3.6+ and IE9 preview 3, respectively), the demos work the same
with other browsers that support WOFF.


6. I'm a web author. When can I start using WOFF? How do I use it?

Today! A few lines in your CSS stylesheet link to a WOFF font and
indicates where on your page to use it. Browsers that don't yet support
WOFF will use the next installed font on your font list, so there is
graceful fallback. Over time, as new browser versions support WOFF, your
stylesheets will continue to work without any need for you to update or
edit the CSS code. [Link: Learn more about WOFF implementations.]


7. Are there WOFF fonts I can use?

WOFF fonts are already available from some commercial foundries and Web
font services, including Ascender, Bitstream, FontShop, Monotype,
Typekit, Webtype, WebInk, etc.. Free and open source fonts that can be
served as WOFF files are available from the Open Font Library, SIL Web
font collection, or FontSquirrel.

Some commercial foundries will license fonts for Web serving directly in
WOFF format; others may permit or expect authors to create their own
WOFF files from licensed desktop fonts. Authors should check font
licenses before creating and serving WOFF files.


8. I'm a font creator. How do I make my own WOFF files?

You can use a font editor that already supports WOFF generation
directly, like Fontforge. Or, you can use another tool that generates
TrueType and OpenType fonts, then convert these to WOFF files with a
utility such as sfnt2woff. If you know how to design a font, you can
start adding WOFF to your repertoire immediately.


9. How long has WOFF been around?

Nine months elapsed between the first appearance of WOFF and its
publication as a public Working Draft at W3C in July 2010. However,
efforts to deploy served fonts on the Web are much older. Half of the
solution, the CSS @font-face syntax, has been a standard for a decade,
but was hampered by the lack of an interoperable font format. Until
2010, it has been difficult for multiple stakeholders (browser
implementers, font designers, foundries, web designers) to reach a
consensus, but W3C has been able to bring them to the table. The
WebFonts Working Group is now making good progress.


10. How close is WOFF to becoming a W3C standard?

WOFF has been published on the W3C Standards Track; this means that it
is on its way to becoming a Royalty-Free standard. The next step is to
assemble a test suite, and to formally request review by interested
parties (Last Call). Once there are implementations that pass the test
suite, WOFF will move to being a W3C Recommendation (Web Standard).


11. How does WOFF relate to other Web formats (HTML, CSS, SVG, )?

CSS and SVG already have ways to point to downloadable fonts, so those
specifications don't have to change to use WOFF. As implementations pick
up, content will start to refer to WOFF for served fonts.


12. Will users have to pay to use fonts?

No. End users (website visitors) do not pay to read text displayed with
WOFF. If the fonts used are commercial, a license or service fee is paid
by the content providers.


13. Will downloading fonts slow page loads?

A combination of font subsetting and WOFF compression means that the
impact on page load is minimal. Users may expect reasonable speeds.

Initial testing of WOFF compression on a random selection of some few
hundred fonts indicated an average compression of about 50%. This
in-format compression is standard in all WOFF fonts, so content
providers do not need to go through extra steps (server-side
compression) to ensure the fastest possible downloads.


14. Will WOFF replace other formats?

WOFF is not expected to replace other formats such as TrueType,
OpenType, Open Font Format or SVG fonts, but provides a Web specific
compressed delivery formant. A font foundry may offer the same font in
OpenType for desktop/print use, and in WOFF for Web use; each with the
appropriate license.


15. Will WOFF work on mobile devices?

Mobile devices use the same technology stack (HTML, CSS, SVG,
JavaScript) as desktop devices so the benefits will apply to mobile as
well. Many mobile devices ships with very few fonts, perhaps making WOFF
even more interesting for those platforms.


16. Where can I learn more about WOFF?

See W3C's page about fonts on the Web as well as the home page of the
WebFonts Working Group for more information. The current status of
specifications related to fonts is also available.

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Received on Wednesday, 27 October 2010 20:16:43 UTC

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