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Re: [css3-fonts] Behdad's Feedback on CSS Fonts Module Level 3 Editor's Draft 5 April 2010

From: John Hudson <tiro@tiro.com>
Date: Wed, 25 Aug 2010 17:32:33 -0700
Message-ID: <4C75B621.2020701@tiro.com>
CC: www-style@w3.org
Behdad Esfahbod wrote:

>>> To reduce confusion I suggest adding Arabic specimen to the serif,
>>> sans-serif, and monospace generic samples.  

>> Sounds good, but what's the confusion you're referring to?

> The confusion rising from the following sentence in the spec: "Some scripts,
> such as Arabic, are almost always cursive."  This may suggest that the other
> generic families are not applied to Arabic.  In fact, I suggest removing that
> sentence and making rewriting the cursive paragraph to be more about
> free-form, handwriting-like, fonts as opposed to a canonical definition of
> connects / doesn't connect.

The CSS ‘generic font families’ are very poorly thought out, but I 
presume it is far too late to change them. They mix different methods of 
categorising letterforms, so inevitably produce overlaps, and cause 
problems for non-Latin scripts by basing some family categories on 
visual features of type styles that do not apply to those scripts. A 
better system would be based on typographic role, rather than forms.

Perhaps some form of annotation would clarify the role or functional 
intention of the generic families? I agree with Behdad that adding the 
example of an Arabic naskh to the ‘Serif’ family would make sense, not 
because this style -- or any of the classical styles -- has serifs per 
se, but because it is the standard formal bookhand comparative in its 
role to serif Latin styles.

I imagine something like this:

serif : formal text style
sans-serif : low stroke contrast text or headline style
cursive : informal script style
fantasy : decorative or expressive display style
monospace : fixed width

The last of these is unique in that the style of the glyphs is secondary 
to their spacing, but this annotation suggests stylistic categories, and 
hence parallel typographic roles, that are common to virtually all 
writing systems. I think this would be demonstrable by replacing the 
illustrations in this section with one example of each style from a 
selection of writing systems. [I can provide examples of Arabic and 
Hebrew for all these styles, I believe.]

Received on Thursday, 26 August 2010 00:33:12 UTC

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