Smashing article, "The Future of Screen Typography"

BlueStreak's picture

Andreas Carlsson & Jaan Orvet discuss making type better on the web:

The Future Of Screen Typography Is In Your Hands

Si_Daniels's picture

Wonder why they didn't mention... http://www.w3.org/TR/css3-fonts/#font-rend-props

Some of these techniques will look pretty sad in a year or so. :-(

Richard Fink's picture

>Some of these techniques will look pretty sad in a year or so. :-(

Not so. Fallback is unique to CSS. No equivalent in print. And the idea of subsetting when needed, rather than packing the font with everything under the sun, is sound thinking. And the CSS syntax you reference in your link to the W3C Recommendation is not simple to grasp. Changing the font-family to reference a special purpose font is conceptually much, much easier.

Further, if there is any evidence that, for even a significant percentage of web designers, small-caps and lining numerals are a high priority, I'm certainly open to seeing it.
But there is none that I can see. I don't think the average web designer knows what lining numerals are. (I didn't until recently. Of course, if you describe them - "You know, the numbers that kind of go up and down instead of straight across" - you'll probably get a nod of recognition. But the idea of "Small-Caps" as opposed to just Caps but sized smaller, I don't think would bring a nod at all. "You mean there's a difference?" There is no awareness of the distinction.
Considering the other problems web designers face today - the really BIG problems - stuff like this is incredibly trivial.

As I've said elsewhere, there seems to be a meme making the rounds that assumes that, as typographical options become more available, web typography will "grow up" and begin to resemble typography in print.
This will not happen. In fact, the trend is noticeably the reverse - with typography in print more and more resembling web design.

In the new marketplace for text (even now 40% of fiction is being read on electronic devices), "fine typography" - meaning fine distinctions of value to an ever shrinking pool of cognescenti stripped of influence by the new economic realities - are an indulgence that few can afford and few will provide. They are anacronisms.

The history of the web for the first fifteen years of its existence is living proof of this. As is, more recently, the rise of devices like the Kindle, the Nook, and the iPad - all of which offer very poor typographic options. Yet demand has grown and grown.

However, on the web, color is free. And that's really cool. :-)

And why did you guys drop the blink tag? I loved that.

Si_Daniels's picture

>Not so. Fallback is unique to CSS. No equivalent in print. And the idea of subsetting when needed, rather than packing the font with everything under the sun, is sound thinking.

I wasn't talking about that, intelligent subsetting has always made sense. I was talking about creating "expert set" fonts instead of using OpenType features.

ralf h.'s picture

I am very happy we got rid of hacks like sIFR and Cufon for displaying type on the web. This is another such hack. I am more interested in getting the real thing—OpenType features—to work in the browser. And with Firefox and IE already on board, it looks like it's gonna happen soon. So I agree with Sii: »Some of these techniques will look pretty sad in a year or so.«

Frode Bo Helland's picture

… the numbers that kind of go up and down …
You’re talking about old style figures, Richard. Confusing term.

kentlew's picture

Yes, Richard, lining figures are those that “align” all along the top, all the same height.

Those that range up and down are called old style figures (or sometimes ranging figures — go figure ;-).

hrant's picture

Then there are 3/4, hybrid, French OS... :-)

hhp

dezcom's picture

Rangie :-)

quadibloc's picture

@Richard Fink:
As I've said elsewhere, there seems to be a meme making the rounds that assumes that, as typographical options become more available, web typography will "grow up" and begin to resemble typography in print.

Well, that's already happened. Many web sites use Adobe Flash, or at least they lay out their pages with tables, so that the appearance of text is static and controllable, instead of reflowing whenever a user changes the width of his browser window and being displayed in the user's default typeface.

In other respects, yes, the flow of stylistic elements is from the medium percieved as "new" and "innovative" to the print medium.

So what's likely to happen is:

As web browsers gain the ability to do everything print can do, this will be made use of, and in ways that make use of the experience in the print medium.

But web sites will continue to be designed for likely computer screen sizes.

And the web, as it's new territory, will be a hotbed of stylistic experimentation, and so in that area, the flow of ideas will be (to some extent, at least) from the web to print.

BlueStreak's picture

>Some of these techniques will look pretty sad in a year or so. :-(

Dear Seahawks fan,

Thanks for the CSS3-fonts link. That's a ton of info to digest. All of these continual changes and new technology have me wishing at times that we could just go back to Rotring pens and Letraset letters. As Dickens said of revolution, "It was the best of times. It was the worst of times..."

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