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Firstly, let me preface the post by saying that I am a complete newbie at everything pertaining to fonts, type, css or design, so please, be gentle.
The story thus far is as follows:
I'm designing a web page for a few friends (and myself), so that we have something (anything) online until our organisation has the funding to get a better page up and running. Luckily, I'm not doing the coding, a friend of mine is.
As I rushed into things, I skimmed the legality of using Adobe Helvetica LT Bold embedded in the code. As far as I could see, Adobe hadn't given a real answer in their forums, but the users were advocating that it was borderline, but legal; hence I thought I'd be in the clear. After designing the mock-up, I read some more, and it seems their license does not include web embedding. Tough luck, as I'm forced to get another similar font, which is where the Nimbus Sans comes into play. As I understand it, they allow usage on web pages (a confirmation from any of you would be great).
Now, my friend has already started to translate the design into code, but after a short conversation on why everything looks like absolute rubbish (where I suggest it's because the text uses hinting), he says that hinting is done per OS, and that he doesn't know of any way to fix this in the code.
Now, when I say "rubbish", I mean the letters are all over the place (overlapping each other), and they seem to have lost any semblance of AA. Blind persons and people who are completely deranged might say that they look "sharper". I would very much like to hit these individuals over the head with the largest fish I could possibly wield as a weapon.
Before I shell out the €60 on the needed Nimbus Sans fonts, can any of you tell me if (1) the Nimbus Sans Bold and Nimbus Sans Bold Italic are comparable to Adobe Helvetica LT Bold and Adobe Helvetica LT Bold Oblique to the point that I won't have to do over the whole design because of size/design differences; (2) if hinting is indeed the issue; and (3) if hinting (and maybe even other things like kerning) can be forced off with things like @font-face, making the font actually readable and looking like it has AA (in browsers like Opera/FF/Chrome/Safari — I couldn't care less about IE)?
Basically, can I get the fonts from URW++ and make the text in my web page look like the original design, or have I completely overestimated the status of web design and fonts, and need to wait another few decades before I can base a web site on anything other than Times New Roman and Arial?