W3C home > Mailing lists > Public > www-style@w3.org > July 2015

Re: [css-fonts] "system" generic font name

From: Myles C. Maxfield <mmaxfield@apple.com>
Date: Mon, 20 Jul 2015 19:02:59 -0700
To: undisclosed-recipients:;
Cc: www-style@w3.org
Message-id: <1CEC68B0-F84E-4036-9093-D38AE2C60573@apple.com>
There has been a fair amount of discussion here, and I thought some clarification would be valuable.

The goal is to let authors say -font-family: system, foo, bar, baz; and to have that fit the overall UI aesthetic of the platform they are viewing on. In addition, a goal is to let authors choose their own weights and other styles to apply to this system UI font.

It sounds like iOS, Android, OS X, and Windows all have a straightforward choice of which font this corresponds to.

There are keywords which the "font" shorthand accepts, however, these don't play nicely with fallback and they also specify a particular size, weight, style, etc., which isn't the goal of this proposal. (Yes, you can override the additional style with subsequent rules, but a cleaner approach is valuable here.) In addition, web authors commonly use font-face with generic font families, so this approach fits in well with the existing practice.

Leaving the font unspecified doesn't work because it lets the browser choose a default font for body content, which is very different than a font for UI content.

Other proposals are perhaps valuable, but this proposal, in particular, is only about font-family.

> On Jul 20, 2015, at 4:21 PM, Felix Miata <mrmazda@earthlink.net> wrote:
> 
> Maciej Stachowiak composed on 2015-07-20 15:53 (UTC-0700):
> 
>> There are cases where that's useful, but we've also had requests to just
>> match the system font in general, rather than a purpose-specific
>> size/weight of the system font.
> 
> [conjecture]
> It seems like this would have been considered as the font shorthand and/or
> form control specs were originally developed, which could mean it purposely
> didn't make it in due to potential for use to dupe naive users into thinking
> text in the viewport was in fact part of browser UI.
> [/conjecture]
> 
>> Note that the unspecified font can't compatibly be the system font because
>> it is traditionally a serif font,
> 
> The thing about that is the user agents are typically being used on devices
> intended to be personalized by users. Defaults are supposed to be starting
> points, not stone monuments of committee decisions. I've run across people
> who prefer serif to sans. I even know people who know defaults can be
> changed, and who've changed them, plus people who *needed* them changed. :-)
> -- 
> "The wise are known for their understanding, and pleasant
> words are persuasive." Proverbs 16:21 (New Living Translation)
> 
> Team OS/2 ** Reg. Linux User #211409 ** a11y rocks!
> 
> Felix Miata  ***  http://fm.no-ip.com/
> 
Received on Tuesday, 21 July 2015 02:03:29 UTC

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