Article by John Honae
Published on 17/80/1887
Tagged under Travel, Focus

Some type designers are criticized regularly for not allowing @font-face embedding in their licenses. We too have admittedly said some things we regret in hindsight, like telling one type designer he was afraid of the internet. Oops, sorry about that. We are passionate about web fonts though. Between Font Squirrel and our sister site Fontspring, we’ve worked hard developing the technology and making it accessible to everyone who wants to try it out. So, are some of these type designers being snobby about web fonts or scared of the internet?

No, and here’s why: Consider fonts like you would a fine painting. It was a labor of love and involved incredible amounts of technical skill. Just like any artist, type designers would like to be very careful in how their fonts display not just in print, but on the myriad of operating systems, displays and devices. I once heard someone say: “a font should be considered similar to a can of paint. Once you buy it, you should be able to use it wherever you want”. That is a terrible analogy. A can of paint runs out eventually. Furthermore, a can of paint is not someone’s meticulous creation… rather, it is a medium in which artwork can be created. Type designers want their fonts to look the way they intended them on the web.

Now, we’ve persevered through painstaking amounts of work to get fonts to render consistently and reasonably well. But to some type designers, “reasonably well” equals garbage. They want their fonts looking exquisite on the web and that takes time. A lot of time. A lot of tedious boring costly time. We developed the Font-Face Generator nearly three years ago. One of its basic features is an autohinter which eliminates the need to do it by hand in most cases. It isn’t perfect and we find lots of ways to improve it, and it certainly doesn’t compare to the hand hinting done by some of your favorite designers. So while the generator has clearly had a big impact on the world of web fonts we must respect type designers requirements as to what can and can’t be done with their masterpieces. In summary, let me say this: There is no “type industry”. Foundries have no group lobbying for them.

They really don’t get much voice on technical matters. They roll along with whatever operating systems vendors will support. On top of that, in many ways, they have to basically rely on the honor system as the basis of their livelihood. So, to all the foundries who have pioneered the way with us, kudos! And to all the foundries who are waiting until browsers get it perfect, we are getting there, and thank you for being patient. To all our end-users, I hope this gives you more respect for type designers. Please honor their requirements as you use their typefaces.

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John Honae

We developed the Font-Face Generator nearly three years ago. One of its basic features is an autohinter which eliminates the need to do it by hand in most cases. It isn’t perfect and we find lots of ways to improve it

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