Re: The unmentionable

On Wed, Jul 29, 2009 at 11:59 AM, John Hudson<> wrote:
> Dirk Pranke wrote:
>> Conversely, there are certainly people that will point out that this
>> does not provide any value at all for legitimate users, only hurdles
>> that they have to jump over. I.e., why should browser vendors
>> implement features that make users' lives harder, when even the font
>> makers admit that this provides no real security or restrictions? Why
>> aren't we willing to trust users to do the right thing?
> In my case because I've been in this business for fifteen years and I've
> seen an awful lot of users do the wrong thing.

First, I am not advocating a particular position on this topic.

Second, a point of terminology to ensure that we're on the same page
(my terminology, that is; I don't know if there is a standard
vocabulary that I should be using). While everyone who touches the web
is a "user" in some sense, if I do not otherwise qualify the word it
refers to someone viewing a web page. Someone who is creating the web
page is an author or a producer. Someone who is hosting the site is
the "host" or the "site provider".

The whole web font discussion is irrelevant to users qua users, who
presumably don't know or care what format their content is in, just as
when I view a web page I don't care if the graphic I'm looking at is a
PNG or a GIF. The issue gets sticky when users also start to become

As to seeing the users do the wrong thing, I also have seen a
tremendous number of people pirate MP3s, but that doesn't mean that
iTunes and Amazon are now doing the wrong thing by selling files in
that format. I will point out, however, that this argument now starts
to resemble any number of other "we must protect the users from
themselves" arguments (e.g., banning the sale of fireworks in the US),
and as such I suspect that there is no good way to resolve it to
everyone's satisfaction. We'll probably end up either with one unhappy
side or at compromise that makes both sides somewhat unhappy.

> But I disagree that these protections offer no benefit to users. If I am at
> risk of breaking the law, e.g. by trespassing on private property, a fence
> or a sign is helpful to me. I say this as someone who lives in a rural area
> where ancient trails run across what are now subdivided lots, and I like to
> know if I'm at risk of walking onto someone else's property.

Fair enough. Whether or not this benefit offsets the confusion and
inconvenience that introducing a new font file type will cause to
casual authors, I don't know.
Certainly professional or experienced authors will get over this
without batting an eye very much.

> Also, what are the 'hurdles'? What about a web font format makes users'
> lives harder?

Right now, I can author a document in Microsoft Word, and save it as
HTML and upload it to a website, along with the associated
subresources, and preserve the look and feel I see in Word. Introduces
a new font file type means that I have to either use a different
version of my font, or run it through a conversion tool. Not a big
hurdle, but a hurdle nonetheless.

In addition, there will probably be market demand for HTML editors
that can handle webfonts natively, which will probably encourage this
feature to get baked into the operating system. At which point, the
useful distinction between the two fonts becomes moot, so why bother
in the first place? (Again, others have given this line of argument

If I do need to obtain a new copy of a font that is dual-licensed, why
not just create a new OTF file that has the appropriate added to it?
Why make the author have to manage both formats? I remember back in
the 90s having to juggle different font formats between macs, windows,
and unix, and it was a pain, so it seems understandable that people in
the "just use TTF/OTF" camp see these proposals as a step backward.

-- Dirk

Received on Wednesday, 29 July 2009 19:57:14 UTC