Revised Web Fonts Proposal

billdavis's picture

Following our proposal for a Web specific OpenType-based font format (which we named OTW), we received a lot of feedback from type designers, web designers and publishers. Most of the feedback was positive. People saw that differentiating web fonts from desktop fonts, and including licensing information in the font file was a step in the right direction.

Moving the plan forward, we felt that with the support of browser makers we could have OTW standardized within two years, and have the majority of installed browsers supporting it within five to six years, based on current browser upgrade rates.

However, web designers want to use commercial fonts today. They don’t want to wait five or six years. This is evident from the use of Flash-based solutions, and the interest in commercial services like TypeKit. So we took a step back and asked ourselves what can we do to accelerate the rate of adoption? With this in mind we decided to take another look at EOT.

Microsoft’s EOT format has a large installed base and is supported in every version of Internet Explorer since IE version 4. And as IE users are typically the slowest to upgrade, adding EOT support to other browsers would provide a quicker adoption of a single web font standard because the other browsers have much faster upgrade rates. However, we know that the other browser makers don’t like EOT because it includes URL binding, proprietary compression and gives Microsoft a head-start.

With this in mind we propose “EOT Lite”. Essentially EOT minus URL binding and compression, but with the addition of licensing information. The benefits are obvious, EOT Lite fonts will work with IE4 and above, can be easily supported in other browsers, and with their faster upgrade rates, we could see 90% of installed browsers supporting the format within a year. EOT Lite would still have the benefits of OTW: a font file that is differentiated from desktop fonts and containing license information.

In summary, and as a result of a significant dialogue with many stakeholders, we believe EOT Lite is the right solution for web fonts. We encourage everyone to support this solution with us.

John Hudson's picture

James, the W3C is currently considering formalising a standard for a web font format -- or multiple formats -- that will be supported by all browsers. Whatever other solutions are eventually offered by online typesetting services, plug-ins, etc., and which will fare better or worse in the market, we're currently looking at a web font standard à la online graphics or audio formats. This isn't something to be ignored. A couple of days ago, FireFox 3.5 became the latest browser to unilaterally support linking of raw TTF and OTF font files, with nothing to prevent your fonts from being made downloadable from servers all over the net except your license agreement and your own diligence.

Again, I'm not expecting anything to be resolved at TypeCon, but I am looking on it as an opportunity to discuss counter proposals for stronger formats, sort out some technical issues, etc. The panel is a chance to present some facts, air some opinions, and establish basic positions. I think the bar and drinks are going to be crucial to what comes next.

Nothing was ever resolved in public.

It is in the nature of standards that they have to be resolved in public. It is illegal not to resolve them in public.

John Hudson's picture

So yes, I am going to TypeCon.

kentlew's picture

Given the hot-button nature of this issue, I have recently stepped forward to moderate the TypeCon web fonts panel -- which may well prove to be a fool's errand.

I have yet to talk through the session with the panel members, but my intention will be to keep the didactic material to a minimum and to facilitate a focused, substantive exchange.

This panel is being offered as a discussion, not a consensus or a resolution.

Ten people is indeed a large group to manage (and our audio tech, JP, is going to love managing this also -- Ha!). I hope we can keep expectations realistic.

I think John stated the objective quite well: "a chance to present some facts, air some opinions, and establish basic positions."

-- Kent.

Nick Shinn's picture

Perhaps you could take it a bit further Kent, and strike a committee to represent type designers' interests.

William Berkson's picture

I think you should extend the panel to an hour and a half, if at all possible. I see it's the first thing Sat. morning, so you could start it at 8:30 instead of 9:00. Since this is the current hottest topic, people will be there.

There was a TypeCon panel--I think it was in Boston--about trends in type for print publications, and it was a great panel but frustratingly short. An hour with ten people is just too short.

John Hudson's picture

Kent, you may or may not want to wade through the W3C font list archive before attempting to moderate this panel. :)

.00's picture

It is in the nature of standards that they have to be resolved in public. It is illegal not to resolve them in public.

And standard making organizations would never, ever do anything that wasn't perfectly legal would they!

I love it when you joke around!

kentlew's picture

I'm afraid the schedule is not my purview, Bill.

And the session is first thing Sunday morning, not Saturday. I think trying to start early would be self-defeating. As much interest as there is in the topic, I don't foresee many people curtailing their Saturday night activities just to attend anything much before 9:00. Perhaps I'm wrong.

So, we should probably just start with the understanding that it will be frustratingly short and not cover everything. I suppose that's the nature of the beast.

From there, we'll have to do the best we can -- start on time, stay on point, and let the conversation spill into the hallways after.

John, I can barely keep up with the various threads here. ;-)

William Berkson's picture

Well as there's a half hour between sessions, another option would be to call out when an hour is up, then continue informally for another 20-30 minutes for those who want.

blank's picture

As much interest as there is in the topic, I don’t foresee many people curtailing their Saturday night activities just to attend anything much before 9:00.

I bet this whole thing could get worked out if you just locked them in Shu’s room overnight.

kentlew's picture

Hmm. Bill, I'm not sure what schedule you're looking at, but the next session on Sunday morning is slated for 10:00, right on the heels of the panel.

William Berkson's picture

Kent, you're right, in my haste I must have misread it.

Christopher Slye's picture

Kent, these things always take about 50 minutes to get really rolling. Maybe you can trim that to 30. :)

The panel -- and more importantly, the audience -- will benefit from a firm grip from the moderator, so I wish you well there.

Rob O. Font's picture

>...I’m not sure what schedule you’re looking at,

I'm wondering, looking at typecon.com, as an exhausted interface user, whether the schedule is up and I just can't find the button that says "show me the damn schedule", or whether it's not up and we're looking at the skeleton of a user interface waiting to be populated, that's how good it is.

Cheers!

Thomas Phinney's picture

The TypeCon schedule is up.

I am too, but I am going back to bed as soon as my stomach settles. I must have eaten too much web font debate or something.

T

kentlew's picture

David --

At TypeCon.com, select Program from the menu on the left. You probably did that.

What's not obvious it that when the Calendar loads, it defaults to Tuesday and only shows details for that day (one lone event). In the right hand panel, select each of the different Days in the second tier to get associated details.

Richard Fink's picture

@kent
You'll be needing a chair and a whip for this. Better pre-order.

rich

Rob O. Font's picture

Okay now. I'm just trained to ignore light grey type.

Cheers!

outrasfontes's picture

In my personal opinion, after seeing the latest edition of Firefox now supporting the @font-face thing, I think we really need a new format. There must be a better solution for us then simply let the web developers put raw OTF/TTF in a public server. I think the Ascender proposal seems to be the best pragmatic one until now. Maybe services like Typekit could be good alternatives also, but it is still too mysterious to have an opinion about it.

I wish you have a good Typecon. :)

billdavis's picture

Busy getting ready for TypeCon... here is something new to discuss: we just announced that by the end of this month we'll be updating our AscenderFonts.com website so users can purchase a web fonts license. We will supply fonts in the EOT format - yes, the less restrictive version we've dubbed "EOT Lite". We have discussed this all the type designers and foundries which we have distribution agreements with, and have received great feedback and support. Our press release can be read here: AscenderFonts.com announces Web Fonts licenses

Shu's picture

I bet this whole thing could get worked out if you just locked them in Shu’s room overnight.

Perhaps. And since I am on the Web Fonts panel it might happen anyway . . .

On another note, the Web Fonts panel may be increased in length. Don't quote me on that.

abattis's picture

@billdavis: Will you also be licensing TTFs?

IE is now down to 50% market share so unless you do license TTFs, this annoucement isn't useful for web publishers. I note that rumours are spreading that some foundries are ALREADY licensing TTFs for the web with a corrupt NAME table so that they cannot be installed in desktop operating systems.

Rob O. Font's picture

In the same rumor, however;

"Personally I am disappointed because I was hoping that the debate might move forward the concept of licence expression, where information about creator and publisher of linked items in a page (like video, photography, typefaces, etc) is available to the user through a machine-comprehendable format that is partially or completely wrapped around the media themselves."

...

Cheers!

John Hudson's picture

Dave: IE is now down to 50% market share so unless you do license TTFs, this announcement isn’t useful for web publishers.

About as useful as supporting naked TTF/OTF linking in the other 50%.

I'm waiting for additional data on browser market share. The page you link to cites a single source for early data. Net Applications are still reviewing June figures.
___

Re. both naked TTF/OTF and EOT Lite: if it ain't compressed, it ain't a real web font format.

Making TTF a web font standard makes as little sense as making TIFF a web graphics standard.

billdavis's picture

@abattis: Will you also be licensing TTFs?

No. We have made clear our position not to license raw TTF and OTF fonts for use with @font-face in websites.

Again, we believe that EOT Lite provides a reasonable solution that addressed the concerns expressed by the other browser makers (by removing the patented font compression and URL binding parts of EOT).

We are offering web designers a solution that can be implemented today in IE, and hopefully in the not too distant future in the other browsers. We will do everything we can to encourage adoption of EOT Lite by other type designers/foundries, and by the browser makers.

As to John's comments about compression, as others have pointed out, there are ways to compress EOT fonts at the server.

abattis's picture

@bill: Okay, thanks for your clarification. Is the actual text of the web fonts contract published yet?

@john: "Making TTF a web font standard makes as little sense as making TIFF a web graphics standard." Sadly I think a web font standard will be years off, and we'll be saddled with dual format web fonts.

Hope that the TypeCon panel will be recorded and posted on the web for those unable to make it :)

Thomas Phinney's picture

I agree that EOT Lite successfully removes anything browser vendors might reasonably object to. But does it also remove something font vendors might reasonably insist on?

Mind you, if what one is selling is the EOT files themselves, the vendor can put real customer info or at least a customer-specific serial number right in the font. This is a bit different than the EOT model we were envisioning when I was at Adobe, which was that we'd just let the customer do the EOT conversion themselves. But with EOT Lite the vendor might have more reason not to allow that.

But it's hard to comment much on Ascender's approach without knowing more about the license model / fee structure. Once that's public, there will be more to discuss.

Cheers,

T

Rob O. Font's picture

@Phinney - Mind you, if what one is selling is the EOT files themselves, the vendor can put real customer info or at least a customer-specific serial number right in the font.

...right you are! and in addition, this (licensing, we are not selling yet), can be done with the evil "raw" OT font... and in addition, the file name can be changed with no adverse effects. This is not a long-term replacement for the PERM, however, which must be implemented before 'client-unseen' licensing can commence.

Cheers!

William Berkson's picture

Revised web fonts proposal by Tal Leming and Eric van Blokland.

aluminum's picture

"We are offering web designers a solution that can be implemented today in IE, and hopefully in the not too distant future in the other browsers."

Which is great. But note that most web developers don't give much thought to IE in terms of going out of the way to enhance things. IE has become the 'weird cousin' that you are still obligated to invite to all your birthday parties but do so reluctantly.

It does seem like we've hit some apex of momentum with @font-face options and products and conversations, though. Nice to see. Hopefully some form of solution that most can agree upon will surface by end of year.

Richard Fink's picture

@abattis, billdavis
"Hope that the TypeCon panel will be recorded and posted on the web for those unable to make it :)"

I have spoken to Kent Lew about this. If all are agreeable, I've got a Sony Hi-Def camera and tri-pod with me at TypeCon
and will gladly volunteer to record the event, no strings attached, claiming no rights. But, of course, it's up to others to decide if this is appropriate and OK with them.

@billdavis

At TypeCon, hoping you've got fairly firm answers on pricing, etc...
And how about those who just want to continue to process, say, Cambria, out of the Windows Fonts folder using Weft?
Are you now looking for license money for this?
Will the same tools as are made available to font-makers be freely available to anybody?

Richard Fink

Bert Vanderveen's picture

Typotheque appear to have chosen a different approach:

http://www.typotheque.com/news/web_font_service_preview

Any thoughts about this?

. . .
Bert Vanderveen BNO

abattis's picture

@richard fink: Wow man, video! That would be awesome!

Miss Tiffany's picture

Here is a compiled list of foundries, so far, who support (like the idea of) the .webfonts proposal set forth by Tal and Erik.

joeclark's picture

I really distrust the impression Bill Davis gives here that:

  1. We did give this some thought and we solved the problem ril quick over the weekend and here is the solution so everybody please sign on KTHXBYE
  2. This solution is a solution because it works in IE. We are in bed with Microsoft and IE is pretty much all that matters to us.
  3. We’ve heard there are these things called “browsers” that other people use, but we haven’t met any of those people and I’m sure whatever’s involved in all that will just fall into line with IE anyway.
  4. Web designers obviously want a solution that works in Internet Explorer for Microsoft Windows, since they use and admire both as much as we do.

What did I get wrong?


Joe Clark
http://joeclark.org/

abattis's picture

@joeclark: The other browser developers were pretty clear that, in order for them to support EOT-Lite, MSIE would have to support regular TTF/OTF fonts. In fact I think Howcome proposed that compromise before this proposal, so it was for the lulz from the start, IMO.

blank's picture

…it was for the lulz from the start, IMO.

I think it was a little more serious, you know, how many web font pirates can fit on the head of a pin and all that.

billdavis's picture

@joeclark: You got it all wrong. Thanks for the sarcasm but it doesn't add much to this discussion.

billdavis's picture

Joe, we have proven over many years to always have the best interest of the type community in our hearts and actions.

We have been working hard on web fonts for a long time.

We respect Microsoft and certainly appreciate their unwavering support for the font community over many years; not just Ascender.

Any solution that requires Microsoft to switch from EOT will take three to four years to reach a critical mass of browser (yes IE) users and anything resembling cross-browser compatibility with therefore take that long. You are probably so busy doing other things that you were unaware of this.

Mozilla objected to two things about EOT, to our knowledge. We have merely suggested removing those two things from EOT (and still feel we have a reasonable solution). Not exactly an 'in bed with Microsoft' approach.

ralf h.'s picture

Re. both naked TTF/OTF and EOT Lite: if it ain’t compressed, it ain’t a real web font format.

Any web content can be compressed on the fly and all those webfont services will probably use this techniqe.
http://www.websiteoptimization.com/speed/tweak/compress/

Typotheque appear to have chosen a different approach:
Any thoughts about this?

It's a wonderful example that even a "smaller" foundry can pull it off, it they want to.

outrasfontes's picture

As I can see in some pages already using webfonts, file size seems to be really a problem to be solved. Depending of connection speed, it can take several seconds until the strange Times Roman layout change to the real one.

Maybe it is a good point for you to discuss tomorow at TypeCon's webfonts panel.

--

ps: Inonic accusations are simple, but reality is complex.

joeclark's picture

Bill, anyone who would engage in typographic debate without occasional sarcasm would – what is the term? – steal sheep.

IE users aren’t the ones who are clamoring for Web fonts, if anyone is. They’re Macintosh supremacists. IE support will not matter in the slightest to the majority of early and mid-term adopters of Web fonts.

Now, while you were busy with other things, you probably failed to recognize that these designers have to get their sites up and running to their satisfaction on their own machines before they worry about anybody else’s. (We’ll exclude the tag-soup problem for a moment. Many Web-font proponents are leading standardistas.) Hence even if you contend, as I expect you would were you offered a day, just one little day, without an iota of sarcasm, that Macintosh-wielding Web designers are a tiny minority compared to the teeming mass of IE users, the fact remains that Web designers are the market for Web fonts. You have to satisfy their needs first. You may be accustomed to satisfying some other entity’s first.


Joe Clark
http://joeclark.org/

John Hudson's picture

Joe: IE users aren’t the ones who are clamoring for Web fonts, if anyone is. They’re Macintosh supremacists. IE support will not matter in the slightest to the majority of early and mid-term adopters of Web fonts.

Web pages are not made for web designers, Mac supremacists or not. Web pages are made for visitors, and if a company cares enough about the visual appearance of their web presence to want specific fonts on one browser they will care enough to want them on all browsers. This isn't about the computer platform being used by early adopters of served typography, it is about the web presence of their customers.

Thomas Phinney's picture

@abattis: "@joeclark: The other browser developers were pretty clear that, in order for them to support EOT-Lite, MSIE would have to support regular TTF/OTF fonts. In fact I think Howcome proposed that compromise before this proposal, so it was for the lulz from the start, IMO."

I am quite sure I saw Håkon say that, and some folks agree. But the main question in my mind was whether John Daggett (Mozilla/Firefox) was in that camp. I don't recall seeing him say so. Do you have a reference or recollection?

(All of which demonstrates the problem with the number of discussions/postings going on about this stuff. I'm spending two hours a day on this, and I can't keep it straight without a scorecard (which I recently created, actually), so how can anybody else?)

T

abattis's picture

@Thomas: Erm, I got the impression JD agreed with HWL, but searching "from:daggett+compromise" now I can't find him saying that explicitly. Lawrence P's posts today about EOT are not a good omen though.

Rob O. Font's picture

>MSIE would have to support regular TTF/OTF fonts.

According to Howcome, IE already does support regular TTF/OTF fonts.

>http://lists.w3.org/Archives/Public/www-font/2009JulSep/0608.html

Cheers!

Thomas Phinney's picture

In recent days, Daggett has made it pretty clear that he/Mozilla don't have much interest in EOT Lite. I am not convinced his arguments make much sense, but that doesn't really matter. No is no.

@dberlow: Apparently IE accesses the raw font files, but it doesn't do anything useful with them for rendering. It chews downloadbandwidth, maybe they end up in the browser cache, but they don't get used on screen.

Regards,

T

William Berkson's picture

Thomas, where do you think that leaves the other initiatives, such as the Tal Leming's, David Berlow's, Peter Bilak's? Are the proprietary net font shops like Typekit and Kernest going to be the only game on the net, at least for a few years?

aluminum's picture

"Are the proprietary net font shops like Typekit and Kernest"

Proprietary in what sense?

Syndicate content Syndicate content