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Re: "Automatic Update" for fonts?

From: Dave Crossland <dave@lab6.com>
Date: Wed, 5 May 2010 11:03:36 +0100
Message-ID: <n2j2285a9d21005050303l45411a68t3759d48402274008@mail.gmail.com>
To: Ben Weiner <ben@readingtype.org.uk>
Cc: www-font@w3.org, Sylvain Galineau <sylvaing@microsoft.com>
On 5 May 2010 08:30, Ben Weiner <ben@readingtype.org.uk> wrote:
> On 5 May 2010, at 05:40, Sylvain Galineau wrote:
>
>>> Why are fonts different than any other resource on the web? Meaning,
>>> why do we need an update mechanism different from the regular update
>>> mechanisms (cache headers, etc.)?
>>
>> I don't think Dave means update on the browser side but updating on the
>> designer side i.e. what metadata could one embed in the file to help
>> design tools check for font updates.

Yes, I was thinking about the users of the fonts (web authors) rather
than browsers.

What I mean is, a developer of a HTML editor or font management tool
could implement a feature so that when a CSS it loads contains an
@font-face line, it reads the font, checks the URL in the font, and
finds some data telling it that a new version of the font has been
published. The editor can then notify the user of this.

Developers could hack up something like this now, using the <vendor />
URL and the <uniqueid /> string, and also <majorVersion
/><minorVersion /> metadata. Say your a large foundry who publishes
both WOFF fonts and a font manager, Font Exploder X, and the <vendor>
URLs point to typeface family specific pages. In the page as a
non-W3C-standardised microformat, containing <uniqueid />
<majorVersion /><minorVersion />. Since the <uniqueid /> has changed,
and the version numbers in the webpage are greater than those in the
font, the desktop application notifies the user that there's a new
version of the font, and shows the version number of the font they
have, and the font they might want. There's also a microformatted
<updateDescription> there too, which is displayed when the user clicks
the "More info" button, and it contains sales copy and pricing
information about the upgrade.

> Like maybe in a notional online vector graphics app (I've not seen in-browser DTP yet)

:-) This isn't hard to imaging given stuff like

http://svg-edit.googlecode.com/svn-history/r1538/trunk/editor/svg-editor.html

http://docs.google.com/drawings/

http://cappuccino.org/learn/demos/

> you save a file you made with version X of a woff and then
> you return to open it later and the woff on the server is now
> version Y. Worth being able to find out that it's different, and
> also whether the newer version is better for your file (improved
> kerning, perhaps). Otherwise you'll want to keep using version
> X in this file in case there are any critical line-breaks that
> could get messed up.

Yes, I was thinking about this last night: The most important
difference between two fonts is if their metrics+kerning have any
differences. An upgrade to a font that shifts around a few points to
improve the look, but keeps the metrics identical, is a nice tidy
upgrade. A font that is completely respaced without any of the points
moving is essentially a new font, because all textboxes need to be
checked for the effects of reflowing.

For a libre font which is available in full when published, tools can
just download both WOFF fonts and diff them and extract whatever
implicit metadata they like (fontaine.sf.net...) but the non-free font
publishers have a tricky problem on their hands, pushing updates in a
sensible way (and with paywalls, like in my above example.)

Cheers
Dave
Received on Wednesday, 5 May 2010 10:04:32 UTC

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