This year’s ATypI conference in Mexico was big on webfonts. FontShop celebrated this by putting together Webfonts Week, a series of interviews with leading type designers. There seems to be universal support for webfonts now, even from those who were dead set against it a year ago. This is obviously great news for web designers and font services such as Fontdeck (coming to a browser near you very soon).
It’s the difference between using software and owning it. What webfonts are doing is providing an engine to send fonts to a website, which is like sending ink to a printer. For any designer out there, it’s a tremendous service to be able to have any font in the universe without committing to the cost of buying a font. Services that hold the fonts on a server somewhere, on call for me as a designer, will send them to the website that I’m designing. To me as an old guy, that is like how we used to use a typesetter. The difference is that I used to have to sketch out the design for the typesetter. For a designer now, it’s a godsend to see how it will appear in real life.
Print is a wonderful stable medium, and turns out the web is a wonderful unstable medium. Type on the web is continuously needing to be improved; over the next 2 or 3 years at least we’re going to see a lot of fonts revving and re-revving to keep up with the process.
I’m much more enthusiastic about web fonts. A year ago I was the king of denial but now technology people and type people have moved much closer together. We’re going to support whatever is required by our users. If our users want to address every single browser then we’ll address every single format those browsers require. This will not be done by them, it will be done by us because we license designs, we don’t license formats.
The WOFF format is such a huge step forward. It offers that small bit of protection without being DRM that will make type designers comfortable with letting their work out into the world on the Web.
What I’m really excited about is the opportunity to embrace the new technology and finally have a framework for designing screen fonts that will actually get used […] I’m very optimistic about that. Because when was the last time you had a new medium to play with? It’s an exciting time.