Bruce Lawson’s personal site

@font-face rules rule!

Richard Rutter neatly summarises the debate over WebKit’s new support for @font-face rules, but I don’t see what all the fuss is about.

The pros:

The cons:

Well, yes—there are people out there who don’t exhibit the perfect design sensitivities that others have. But they already use colours and (gasp!) images in combinations not approved by the taste police, but they haven’t destroyed the Web yet. In fact, last time I checked, the Web was thriving so much it’s gone up a version.

CSS font “embedding” is another tool. Tools can be used for good or for bad. What’s not to love?

8 Responses to “ @font-face rules rule! ”

Comment by Eric Meyer

One other con: “Wait a minute, I didn’t know type foundries could actually sue people for using fonts they didn’t buy! It’s the browsers’ fault for letting me do that!”

Same story as with images, of course, but still.

Looking forward to the day you replace all your ransom text images with embedded-font text, by the way.

Comment by bruce

Hi Eric. You’re right that font foundries could sue – but you also acknowledge that so can/do photographers and image libraries. We haven’t seen a collapse of Corbis and Getty Images because there are images on the Web.

As for the ransom note, I couldn’t replace that. (No-one’s advocating the wholesale abolition of images of text.) But I’d like to be able to use the ransom or demand font for selected headings.

Comment by Phil

Well, yes—there are people out there who don’t exhibit the perfect design sensitivities that others have. But they already use colours and (gasp!) images in combinations not approved by the taste police, but they haven’t destroyed the Web yet.

No, they managed to quarantine most of that under the myspace.com domain.

I have to agree with your con though… I am not a designer or typographer but I would like the opportunity to use different fonts without throwing the real text somewhere off screen. The thing is, I have come to understand so far that picking fonts for a site is more than just a list, in order of preference, under the font-family attribute. With the onset of @font-face rules I look forward to hopefully learning more about type and making good use of the possibilities.

As most people understand, bad designers are making bad designs already, regardless of font decisions. So, let’s look forward to whole chunks of body text written in ransom or demand.

Comment by Mo

Put me in the “thank the heavens!” camp. WebKit’s support for this hasn’t come a moment too soon, and hopefully it will spur other browser authors into similar.

How long before the foundries start releasing fonts with a surcharge for making them “web-enabled” or somesuch, just to cover the losses of people who unscrupulously rip off the fonts from sites using @font-face? I guess it comes down to the age-old “distributing” versus “making available” argument. My sensible head says it should be easy: if you are building the site and using @font-face, you’d better have a license for the fonts—end of. My legal head says “sticking the files up on the server and linking to them from the CSS is a form of distribution, and so falls afoul of copyright law”. It’s a thorny one, because it’s difficult to argue that you’re not “distributing” the font (as opposed to the output of it, as you ordinarily would) to the viewers of your site. That said, that’s exactly what you do when you use sIFR—albeit in a less immediately useable form.

My gut feeling is to suck it and see. I doubt it’ll result in a huge upswing in copyright-breaching font use, so the foundries won’t much care unless they’re asked. If they start complaining, we’ll have to figure out a way to deal with that.

Comment by Bruce

Phil said

let’s look forward to whole chunks of body text written in ransom or demand.

Don’t forget that, for the majority of the world using Internet Explorer, this has been possible since IE4 using WEFT, yet we haven’t seen that many sites using it.

Comment by Phil

OK Bruce, but why don’t many people use WEFT and IE font embedding and why is everyone suddenly excited by a nightly build of Webkit offering the same functionality, especially since IE is the most widely used browser?

Comment by Mo

@Phil:

Because WEFT is, quite frankly, horrible, and more than that: it’s a dead end. It means packaging up the fonts in a non-standard format that everybody knows won’t ever be supported by anything except IE. Not only that, but it only works with fonts explicitly marked as “embeddable”, and it’s a total pain in the rear end. The whole thing is built in such a way that suggests that the powers that be didn’t want anybody to be able to embed fonts in the first place, and that it’d quite alright—thank you very much—if that remained the case (which is probably true, of course, but that’s no real defence).

Comment by JackP

You can tell that the “web going up a version” didn’t come from a techie though. If it had, it would never have been called Web 2.0, it would have been called Web 1.13.2a Beta…

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