Re: [css3-webfonts] Proposal-in-progress for cross site font sharing [was "Downloaded fonts should not..."]

> The thing with fonts is that most people will want to use 
> the ones they have or that are easily available. 

I think there are actually a number of relatively distinct use cases for downloaded fonts, each with slightly different tool requirements:

1. General use for alphabetic scripts - this is probably what most people thinking about this are interested in, the use of downloaded fonts throughout a site, both for display and body text.  Size of the fonts involved probably aren't too big, probably don't need font-specific compression schemes.  The big problem with "easily available" fonts for many of these the license won't allow  for use as a downloadable font, or worse, it's actually hard to figure out what license actually applies (e.g. all the lovely fonts shipped with Mac OS X).

2. Use in display elements in CJK sites - for Asian languages like Chinese, Japanese and to a lesser extent Korean, the size of the font is a problem, since many are several megabytes in size (e.g. Hiragino Kaku Gothic ProN, shipped with Mac OS X 10.5, is 9MB!).  More tools like the ones used to make EOT fonts that allow subsetting are needed.  Use of downloaded fonts only in display elements reduces size of needed font, fonts for general body text use is possible but this means larger fonts, especially for Chinese.  Licensing is *huge* problem, at least in Japan font licenses tend to be very restrictive since the amount of effort to create a font for Japanese is significant.  Especially for mobile use, stroke-based font formats would be *very* interesting.

3. Use with complex or rare scripts.  This is a big issue in India, where EOT fonts are used as a way of overcoming the lack of fonts that support specific scripts.  Concurrent with the increased interest in non-Latin fonts within the type design world, this is where downloadable fonts could have a *huge* impact.  This is also one area where I think alternative font formats like Graphite could potentially have a big impact, supporting languages and scripts that most big software and font vendors would generally overlook.  

While the first usage is wonderful, the latter two I think would end up having a much broader impact on web design internationally!


John Daggett
Mozilla Japan

Received on Friday, 18 April 2008 06:25:38 UTC