Fonts on the web - Surveys!

Thomas Phinney's picture

As has been sometimes discussed here on Typophile, the W3C has been wrestling with some issues around how to improve handling of fonts for the Web. Nobody has really asked Web designers or font vendors/foundries about their needs.

I have made a relevant blog post and launched two related surveys (one of Web designers, one of font vendors).

The survey for Web designers/producers is here. I'd appreciate your help in getting the word to relevant lists and forums:
http://www.surveymonkey.com/s.aspx?sm=wyFVRRqnxAmTypkzThJOkA_3d_3d

The survey for font vendors is here:
http://www.surveymonkey.com/s.aspx?sm=I9LYBFmggGJ8SCTU0u3CtQ_3d_3d

My blog post is here:
http://blogs.adobe.com/typblography/2007/11/web_fonts_1.html

Cheers,

T

Thomas Phinney
Product Manager
Fonts & Global Typography
Adobe Systems

Nick Shinn's picture

Thanks for this, Thomas.
I'm done.

blank's picture

Thanks for the head’s up, Thomas. Hopefully more design nerds than Slashdot nerds will see this one.

Hmm...something interesting just occurred to me. Adobe should put a simple sIFR setup tool into Dreamweaver. If that could make it into CS5 it will still be available to designers long before the W3C pulls off anything new.

aluminum's picture

"Hopefully more design nerds than Slashdot nerds will see this one."

You state that as if they are mutually exclusive. ;o)

Nick Shinn's picture

James, are you implying, by your use of the word "nerd", that anyone who reads TP's blog doesn't have a life? :-)

Thomas Phinney's picture

The SIFR approach is an interesting one - and something I tried to convince the GoLive team to go for, years ago, before Adobe acquired Macromedia.

But the matter at hand is that the W3C is likely to go with original fonts on Web servers, and might be convinced to go with EOT as well, and that the opinions of type foundries and users might be able to influence if (in the case of EOT) and how (for both approaches) these things go down.

Unless the Flash SWF format were to become an open format, I don't think SIFR would be considered. Plus there are technical considerations as well.

BTW, what is this "life" thing you keep talking about, Nick? Seems like I've heard this word before somewhere.

Cheers,

T

aluminum's picture

"The SIFR approach is an interesting one - and something I tried to convince the GoLive team to go for, years ago, before Adobe acquired Macromedia."

What I find sad is that now that Adobe has Flash, they're not compelled to push for SVG support like they used to.

Oh well.

In the end, it doesn't matter what the W3C does. What matters is what Microsoft, Mozilla, and Adobe do. ;o)

blank's picture

@Nick: On the contrary, nerds have richer lives than the rest of the world. That’s why we’re the cool ones now.

Unless the Flash SWF format were to become an open format, I don’t think SIFR would be considered.

I don’t think that what the W3C wants really matters much anymore. The people behind Flash/Flex have their heads screwed on a lot tighter, and may be more likely to produce internet standards that designers and consumers want to work with in the long run. It’s been six years since XHTML 1.1, and I don’t see the W3C moving things forward. What Macromedia/Adobe have done in the same timespan is pretty impressive.

What I find sad is that now that Adobe has Flash, they’re not compelled to push for SVG support like they used to.

I don’t blame them. SVG seemed to run into the same problem a lot of commercial open-source projects do: when the open-source crowd finally gets commercial support, they don’t really contribute enough to make it worthwhile for the businesses involved. It makes more sense for Adobe to just stick with Flash and avoid the extra headaches.

dberlow's picture

"In the end, it doesn’t matter what the W3C does. What matters is what Microsoft, Mozilla, and Adobe do."

That is funny, to me. I see your words, and I know what you're saying, but Adobe, MS and Apple have done many things over the decade+ of this issue's existence and none of them work for "The Web", just for their users. why change now? Thus, this survey had little to offer me as far as questions I felt like answering. When someone asks, "What do you, (you type designer you), need to know in order to provide a quality font to any user?" Then we're cookin'. We're cookin' now on our own grease, but it'll be awhile because the fundament of tool makers had to be replaced with ones who don't lack for ears, eyes, noses and throats.

Cheers!

Nick Shinn's picture

the fundament of tool makers had to be replaced

So, the Bureau has embedded moles in Seattle....

Si_Daniels's picture

>So, the Bureau has embedded moles in Seattle....

Before embedding moles be sure to check their embedding permissions and EULA.

Cheers, Si

Thomas Phinney's picture

I think the mole embedding spec has some flaws, and should be revised for OpenDig 6.5

T

Thomas Phinney's picture

> why change now?

Because an influential person (Haakon Lie) has managed to get support for original fonts on web servers (via the CSS @font-face tag) built into WebKit, which means it will get picked up by Opera, and likely by Safari as well.

So, fonts on the web are going to happen. It's just become a question of exactly how. That's spurs reactions from companies such as Microsoft and Adobe.

Regards,

T

Thomas Phinney's picture

I just posted some initial results of the end user survey, here: http://blogs.adobe.com/typblography/2007/11/web_user_survey_results.html

blank's picture

I don’t know about everyone else, but that page doesn’t render correctly in Firefox. Works fine in Safari, tho. On the upside, those numbers of people who consider using type that’s already part of an identity critical makes it pretty clear that my thesis work needs to demonstrate type on the web, too.

Thomas Phinney's picture

Sorry 'bout that. Works fine in Safari and IE.

Regards,

T

Choz Cunningham's picture

I'd like to see an anonymized result from the font vendor survey, as well. It seems that there would be a few font vendors, and several publishers, that were highly interested in allowing some sort of interdomain access to fonts. While this could lead to hotlinking, that is manageable. More interestingly, it could create an opportunity for "font services" to be provided by the font vendors to a client with a lower up front cost. As a person I prefer to buy, but to businesses, leases have advantages.

(p.s. No problems with Win/Firefox 2.0.0.9 here.)

Thomas Phinney's picture

That's my intention, as well, to post anonymized results from the foundries. I'm waiting to get a few more font vendor results. I'm especially missing a couple of key (very large) vendors right now, without whom the results wouldn't be terribly meaningful.

I almost forgot to fill it out on behalf of Adobe, too, which would have been an amusing omission.

Cheers,

T

blank's picture

Thomas, have you asked the Design Observer staff to post about your survey?

aluminum's picture

"I don’t blame them. SVG seemed to run into the same problem a lot of commercial open-source projects do: when the open-source crowd finally gets commercial support, they don’t really contribute enough to make it worthwhile for the businesses involved."

Not quite sure what you mean by that. Open source isn't good for the business of commercial software companies like Adobe, of course, as that's their livlihood.

So, yea, I can see why Adobe has no interest in supporting open standards and would rather try and own the web technology (just as MS has for so long).

"and none of them work for “The Web”, just for their users."

Oh, I certainly agree. ;o)

And Thomas, with all due respect, I do have to point out the irony of the page not working in Firefox. ;o)

Thomas Phinney's picture

Choz said it worked just fine in his Firefox setup. Maybe it's just Firefox Mac? Dunno.

But in any case, big companies aren't always against open standards. It's more of "it depends." Adobe was a major early supporter of SVG, for instance. We have donated big whacks of code such as Tamarin to the open source movement:
. We donated the OpenType spec to the ISO, and currently support adoption of Microsoft's EOT as an open standard at the W3C.

James: No, I didn't ask the Design Observer staff, but please feel free to pass it on. In fact, I appreciate any and all promotion of the designer survey - I want it to have as broad as possible a cross-section of Web designers. Especially non-typophiles, really.

Cheers,

T

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