Re: CSS21 @font-face removal

Henri Sivonen wrote:
>   * Internet Explorer has a large installed base and it has working
> support
>     for font embedding at least for the Windows-1252 repertoire. That is,
>     there's already a large population of users with a user agent that
> supports
>     font downloading. Still, as far as I know, font embedding isn't used
> much
>     by Western designers. It's not like designers shy away from features
> the
>     just because they are IE-specific. Perhaps there is something
> unattractive
>     about font embedding that outweighs the attractiveness of visual
> control.
>     Something that runs deeper than the currently available method being
>     IE-specific.

I don't buy this at all. I think single platform solutions are pretty much a
non-starter for many applications. Further, looking for designers to provide
fonts for the one platform that it supports, which also by the way is a
platform that comes with a large number of fonts with many styles and designs
for western users, is not a sensible test for excluding the feature.

>   * Font foundries don't want their fonts distributed for free for
> everyone.
>     Compared to some other jurisdictions which don't have any official
> copyright
>     relaxation for fonts, the U.S. Copyright Office stance that a
> rendering
>     produced with a font is not subject to copyright is actually rather
> lax.
>     However, because of this, the font foundries tend to take the stance
> that
>     hinted fonts constitute software, which in turn has exceptionally
> strong
>     corporate protection. Even if font embedding was technically
> feasible, what's
>     the point in putting effort into implementing something that almost
> no one
>     dares use because of legal issues?

Yes, licensing can be an issue for some. However, there are also free fonts
available, and especially for minority languages it seems governments and some
typographers are willing to do so. For businessesm it seems "the first time's
free" is a model that works well in many environments- identifies potential
customers and also gives them a sense of obligation and loyalty to you. Nothing
like a free useful gift to make you think about coming back to buy when you are
ready to move up.

>   * Designers tend to pick fonts they believe "everyone" has. This
> includes
>     mainly Times New Roman, Arial, Verdana and sometimes Georgia. Western
>     designers in general aren't even using the full font repertoire of
> Windows
>     and Mac OS, because they seem to think consistency across "all"
> environments
>     is more important than picking something less trite that might look
>     different for different readers. Since designers wouldn't be able to
> make
>     sure embedded fonts work *everywhere*, why would the designers
> choose to
>     embed different fonts if they don't dare to use fonts that a
> significant
>     number of people (but not the supposed "everyone") already has
> installed?
>     What's the point in putting effort into font downloading until
>     designers embrace the idea that it is OK to have different
> fontifications
>     in different environments? (I think it is unrealistic to expect that
>     CSS WG-endorsed font referencing would guarantee the same
> fontification
>     everywhere and alleviate the designer concern for sameness.)

The Ford "you can have any color you want, as long as its black" model of
marketing was discredited a long time ago. People like choices. Even if its not
the same everywhere, having a choice means you can decide if you like it for
your use.

>   * Fonts are rather large (in bytes) relative to the size of usual Web
> pages.
>     The time it takes to download the font may be perceived to be too
> long
>     compared to downloading the text. I don't believe font embedding
> would
>     actually in practice solve anything for people who want to read
> Chinese in a
>     university in England. The CJK font sizes are just too large compared
>     to the size of the main content of usual web pages. Also, does
> anyone want
>     a flash of unfontified content (compare with the flash of unstyled
> content)?
>     Deferring the display of the page until the font has arrived would
> be a bad
>     solution. However, a sudden font change after the reader has started
> reading
>     the page would be bad, too.

These can all be worked around.

It may not be perfect, but it is already defined and unless there is an
alternative that works better, why not wait longer and see if it catches on.
Especially, if some of the other more problematic features are eliminated from
the spec.

> --
> Henri Sivonen

Tex Texin   cell: +1 781 789 1898
Xen Master                
Making e-Business Work Around the World

Received on Friday, 7 November 2003 05:12:13 UTC