Google Fonts: Your Questions, Answered

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  • Pablo:
    I'm not saying "all".. I'm only saying "many", as they needs evolve, in the same way the people will move from GF to other services as their needs evolve.
    I misquoted you on all, sorry. But I don't see data on customers migrating from GF to commercial. I think paying web typographers want all, they choose which service to use for which site, based on particular font selection, and they migrate from trial, to hosted, to self-hosted.

    And don't take it personally. I am not feeling attacked by you. I respect your work and opinions too. But what you see and what I see are very different things because what you do and what I do are not the same, though they overlap.

    Vernon:
    I'm sure that Font Bureau fonts are not exposed in the same way as the bulk of proprietary webfonts seem to be on the major servers.
    We could, but so far we follow standards. We have decided to develop the capability you suggest, to allow us to offer other options as both type designers and corporations, but that path too, is fraught.
  • David Berlow wrote: But what you see and what I see are very different things because what you do and what I do are not the same, though they overlap.
    Eureka Moment !!! :)

    Why so few other of the 'serious' type people don't see it like that is slightly bewildering to me. It's quite probable that the field of 'type' continues to broaden, likely even splinter more. Some areas will still overlap, but it's likely that less areas will overlap. Even with that perrenial value of 'highest quality' there's a counter, with the increased value of the --> http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Minimum_viable_product
  • PabloImpallariPabloImpallari Posts: 527
    edited December 2013
    Thanks, we can almost agree on the 1st paragraph.
    They only thing I will add, is that although we don't see "data" confirming the entry point theory, we can see some indicators. I repeat my questions: Monotype is hurting their own sales? I really don't think so. Fontspring is hurting their own sales by getting traffic via Fontsquirrel? I really don't think so. What I think, is that they are clever enough to transform what others see as "crisis" into "oportunity", and get profit from it.

    And we can fully agree on the 2nd paragraph. We are doing different things, so we can also agree that Libre fonts will not kill proprietary ones. They may overlap, as you say, but the web is big enough for all of them.

    Maybe, after 7 pages of comments and beating the horse to death, we are coming closer to an understatement?
  • [Deleted User][Deleted User] Posts: 0
    edited December 2013
    Vernon: John raised interesting issues. Mr Berlow offered interesting insights. And the one thing that gives you an Eureka Moment is ... this? :(

    Pablo: I think 'proprietary' vs 'libre' is irrelevant for the aspect that you speak about. The aspect that is relevant to GF users most likely is not that fonts are 'libre' (vs 'proprietary') but that they cost nothing (vs costing some fee) – which I think is what you are speaking about when you refer to Fontspring vs Fontsquirrel. I noticed that Vernon spices up his comments with a 'proprietary' here and there, I think it obscures rather than clarifies anything.
  • vernon adamsvernon adams Posts: 82
    edited December 2013
    And then the big question is why do type designers accept these systems of font delivery that allow such easy theft of their designs?
    I think the answer to that goes back to standards. When Adobe launched PS there was encryption and no one could steal fonts without a bunch of really smart programmers. The disadvantages of their system to the legal user were substantial, and I suspect the cost of soothing these users when encryption ran amok was difficult to support.
    You say people sign contracts that, in return for % royalties, leave their webfonts exposed to easy thefts — are surrendering. But signing a contract in return for nothing, leaving your webfonts to only benefit others is not surrendering, bending over, or anything but heroism. I think, as I wrote, this must be a generational thing.
    @David Berlow

    I still think your dodging, what i suspect, i could be a revealing (in a good way!) answer...

    4 years ago, you were clearly part of an understanding that @font-face css usage, and, the (then nascent) 'webfont served web' could likely mean real font property being exposed to easy theft across the web. You were certainly not the only one, but you are the only one of them in this thread :-) Hence i'm asking you.

    The general consensus was that the situation needed managing to curtail massive loss of fonts to the public via @font-face. I remember the discourse well, because unlike many of the other designers i know, i was going the total opposite way of thinking, and seeing that @font-face could be managed to enable a massive distribution of fonts to the public.

    Corps such as Adobe (maybe in order to play catch up to the google font strategy) seemed to have ignored those concerns of proprietary type owners, and let proprietary fonts go 'free range' onto the web, and allowing the very simple theft and surrender of 'intellectual property'.

    So, what happened to those concerns about the loss of fonts to the public? I don't hear those same people worrying about it anymore. What happened?
  • vernon adamsvernon adams Posts: 82
    edited December 2013
    @k_l_
    Vernon: John raised interesting issues. Mr Berlow offered interesting insights. And the one thing that gives you an Eureka Moment is ... this? :(
    Errr No. I thought it was maybe sign of a Eureka Moment for David Berlow, considering is earlier responses. The concept that "not everyone does the same thing or sees the same thing" is not extraordinary to me. Apparently though it's anathema to some.

    Also.. English is clearly not your first language. But tough, there's nothing i can do to prevent your misreadings. Pablo manages to understand really well though, and he converses via google translate.
  • You could abbreviate the show a bit by providing the text of the confession that you seem to to want to read.
  • This whole discussion is really quite a deja-vu to anyone who happened to be on the web in the early- to mid-90s — it was like three hours of reliving 1995 for me yesterday. It should also be familiar to anyone who over the past few decades has had an interest in computing in general, and in type's progress through its three technological shifts in particular. Almost everything said here was said in one way or another back then. I'm not going to reprise all that, but it's interesting to remember that most things have precedents we can reference, and we can learn a hell of a lot about the future by looking at the past. At the very least, it helps us keep a sense of humour in times of uncertainty.

    Google's reasons for their GF project should be quite obvious, given their business model. I'm surprised so few people picked up on the major benefits big data reaps from free webfonts.

    Most contributors here want Google to worry about how their work may interfere with commercial type designers maintaining their levels of making a living — but I really don't see why they should. Do we expect Apple, Microsoft, Adobe, and every other big software/internet company to keep our livelihood in mind when they chart up their next project? It would be nice if they did, but I think the answer to that is no, we can't realistically expect them to be concerned about us. So why do we expect it from Google? I'm not sure why Google's own people feel the need to go to great convoluted rationalizations to justify their project on a forum like this. I'm surprised (and a bit delighted) they even care.

    Google webfonts are not going to be the commercial font industry's end-all. They won't even make a dent — no more than Castcraft or Rakowski or SSI or Weatherly or Bitstream (and countless others) ever did. This is a very old doomsday argument that is yet to prove remotely factual, and probably never will. Come on. Commercial type designers, of whom I am one, start sounding embarrassingly disingenous when we try to restart that ancient fire. We have plenty more worrisome things eroding at our desired levels of livelihood. But I suppose it's difficult to be earnestly introspective, as individuals or as an industry, when it's easier just to blame external entities. While I do appreciate the apparent solidarity of independent font developers, and I can happily claim that many of my colleagues have become good friends, it seems to me what we're showing here is misdirected anger/frustration, which may speak volumes about us rather than solve some of our industry's real issues.

    There's the "open source software hurts us" argument. Free software doesn't hurt us. It just runs parallel to what we do, and we even benefit from it sometimes. The commercial operating systems and programs we use on a daily basis would not be what they are without open source software. Developers I hire to do work for me or my clients — the first thing they do is look for available open source software to make their job easier and reduce their cost to me and my clients. That's just one example. What would our own workflows be like without UNIX, Python, Freetype, Mozilla, etcetera? The hardliner capitalism/commons ideology difference may be underlying somewhere in there, but it seems hypocritical when this particular card is played by people like us who benefit from both platforms.
  • PabloImpallariPabloImpallari Posts: 527
    edited December 2013
    Pablo: I think 'proprietary' vs 'libre' is irrelevant for the aspect that you speak about. The aspect that is relevant to GF users most likely is not that fonts are 'libre' (vs 'proprietary') but that they cost nothing (vs costing some fee) – which I think is what you are speaking about when you refer to Fontspring vs Fontsquirrel. I noticed that Vernon spices up his comments with a 'proprietary' here and there, I think it obscures rather than clarifies anything.
    Karsten, saying 'Proprietary' is not obscuring anything! It's enlighten the discussion.
    You need to understand the concept of Proprietary if you want to understand the concept of Libre. There are core differences, others than price. I highlighted some in my reply to Paul van deer Laan (read the part about CssZenGarden, Brackets.io and Wordpress).

    When Paul van deer Laan says (in a previews one) that:
    The *only* difference between the two is the accompanying license.
    He is completely right about it. But that difference is not a minor thing, It's a very important one!
    Since it's the license that tells people what they can and what they can't do.

    Libre font's exist to be legally and freely shared across the web, while proprietary ones can not be freely shared, by definition, since they are someone's property.

    And zero-price becomes irrelevant, if the fonts are missing a proper license (as many in Dafont).

    Also:
    Actually, it's "commercial" the term that it's confusing and obscuring things, because most OFL where also commercially developed. See Dave's post here
  • RalfRalf Posts: 170
    Do we expect Apple, Microsoft, Adobe, and every other big software/internet company to keep our livelihood in mind …?
    No, we don’t expect that. That isn’t the point of this discussion.
    We can’t control what Google, Adobe, Monotype are doing, but we can control what WE are doing. And this is what is discussed here. Some say, joining this libre circus is not only good for the world (as the libre ideology claims), it’s also very good for us (e.g. more revenue through more exposure).
    Maybe, that’s true, maybe not. Maybe it works for some, but not for others. Maybe there is a tipping point when there are so many libre fonts available, that the commercial fonts wont sell anymore. I think there is nothing wrong with considering and questioning all the options, is there? Because …
    Google webfonts are not going to be the commercial font industry's end-all.
    … to some extent that depends on our decisions.


  • Thanks Patrick, awesome contribution.
  • Ralf H, and k_l_. You need to change to your real full names.

    http://typedrawers.com/discussion/264/typedrawers-is-a-real-names-only-forum
  • PabloImpallariPabloImpallari Posts: 527
    edited December 2013
    Ralf, I agree with your last post. It all depends of what you do and your decisions, as with any other thing in life.
    Also, I'm happy to see some of you slowly changing your views from "GF will kill us all" to "maybe yes, maybe not, we don't know". I think that's a bit of progress.

    I will say nothing about your mention of "libre circus", Patrick has already addressed that.
    it seems to me what we're showing here is misdirected anger/frustration, which may speak volumes about us rather than solve some of our industry's real issues.
    Also, we are not calling you "crying babies" or any other disrespectful term. So, in order to have and harmonious discussion, I think it's best if we stay away from using those terms. Insulting each other is pointless kiddy stuff.
  • PabloImpallariPabloImpallari Posts: 527
    edited December 2013
    I'm not surprised at all, just pointing out that name-calling is pointless kiddy stuff.
    Also I don't think I'm (browbeat= intimidating?) my colleagues. (if that's the correct translation). I'm only trying to answer their questions in good faith.
    But you are absolutely right, maybe it's time to get back to work. We all have already spent a lot of productive time here, and there is real work waiting to be done.
  • Dave CrosslandDave Crossland Posts: 1,047
    edited December 2013
    Matthew, no brow beating intended from me, at all. There are fundamental questions about the nature of type design here, about originality and the purpose of our craft, and I've tried not to make this personal.

    These are perennial topics for debate, which i expect type designers in 50 years to be debating.

    Understanding the nuances from people with a long experience in this field (like John Hudson, David Lemon, David Berlow, Thomas Phinney, and yourself) and hearing the concerns of folks like Jack and Ralf, matters to me.

    I'm not trying to stir up shit, I'm trying to understand through sincere debate, which is the purpose of a public forum like this.

    I hope you will continue to engage on these issues as thoughtfully as you have done in the past.
  • Ramiro EspinozaRamiro Espinoza Posts: 735
    edited December 2013
    @Dave: You are justifying derivative fonts and trying to make poor design standards acceptable. For me that's enough to have a very negative opinion about you.
    @Pablo: I know how things are being in Argentina but I think you could learn much more making friend and meeting colleagues in different type circles.
  • vernon adamsvernon adams Posts: 82
    edited December 2013
    Karsten(?) said:You could abbreviate the show a bit by providing the text of the confession that you seem to to want to read.
    Confession?? Now you've really lost me. I don't understand at all why you are floating around on this. Unless you are just trolling about. If so , please don't :) asking nicely :)

    I am genuinely interested to hear David Berlow's views on that whole area that i have outlined above. I found his views very interesting in 2009 on the same area, now considering the changes that have taken place, i am sure his views are equally interesting. Is there a problem with asking an interesting person for his views on an interesting issue??
  • Dave CrosslandDave Crossland Posts: 1,047
    edited December 2013
    Ramiro, I encourage you to engage in the topic and refute something I've said, rather than post ad hominems. I am curious how to feel your derivative fonts --

    Barbieri is a casual sans type family, based on a German lettering style from the '60s

    Kade is a display/semi display sans family of fonts based on vernacular lettering photographed over the last ten years in and around the harbours of Amsterdam and Rotterdam.

    While conceiving Winco, Ramiro Espinoza studied the work of the masters of postwar book cover design ... Having established a stylistic framework...


    ‘Krul’ is a typographic interpretation of the lettering style created by Dutch letter painter Jan Willem Joseph Visser at the end of the 1940s

    Dulcinea ... sometimes come close to ugliness ... is far from being just a revival ... myriad interesting details that can be rescued and preserved, along with the playful spirit of the original.

    Medusa is Ramiro Espinoza’s homage ... capitals were redrawn in order to strike a greater balance and enhance the consistency of the set of letters as a whole. Several swashes and ligatures were also created from scratch.

    'Kurversbrug' is a revival of the Amsterdam's bridge letters. The original alphabet was probably designed by Anton Kurvers around 1930. Ramiro Espinoza solved many inconsistencies in the original model, completely redefined several letters, added punctuation marks
    -- are justified, but the ones I have been involved in publishing are not?
  • @Dave: You are justifying derivative fonts and trying to make poor design standards acceptable. For me that's enough to have a very negative opinion about you.
    Ramirez, the problem with your hardline dogma is that it could be applied to almost anyone. Look around at more type design and you'll see that your criticism could be applied most places, probably you won't need to look far. For example lets take a foundry at random, http://www.re-type.com/.

    Some high standard in some typefaces there, but also some poor standard in other typefaces. Can't hit the highs every time. There's also some 'original' work there but there's also some derivative work too. In fact the highest quality on that site is arguably the most derivative. So how do you deal with that mix in your dogma? Type design is essentially re-designing, so i don't see that the work on www.re-type.com is 'derivative', as any insult, it's just type, after all; some of it's good, some isn't. Some faces will sell well, others won't. No big deal.
  • Dave CrosslandDave Crossland Posts: 1,047
    edited December 2013
    Vern, your comments about unlicensed use made more convenient by @font-face is interesting to me, since unlicensed use is not something I think about, at all.

    The TD discussion about SkyFonts quickly focuses on that issue though; that Monotype believe that making it more convenient to 'try before you buy' will increase sales, while the folks in that thread believe that it will decrease sales because it will encourage unlicensed use.

    Skyfonts allows installing a font for 5 minutes for use in any application; since this includes font editors, you can open the font and save it on your desktop. This is not more difficult than dragging a font out of the developer pane of the browser.

    But as David Berlow has said, it is only becoming easier and easier to find unlicensed usage of fonts. So I think I agree with Monotype; making it more convenient to 'try before you buy' will increase sales.
  • The comments on piracy are interesting.

    It's not hard to rip fonts off of the commercial web font services. But at least for WebINK and TypeKit, the fonts are maimed relative to traditional desktop font use. So my observation as product manager and font library manager for WebINK is that we know of essentially zero piracy from WebINK itself. Presumably because there are much easier ways to get the original, intact fonts. Why bother ripping them from WebINK or Typekit?

    There was *one* known case of a user extracting fonts on their desktop system from Suitcase Fusion's preview stash. They didn't realize it was a problem with their license. We've since made the fonts harder to grab from there. Again, the fonts were munged and there are easier places to get the original fonts from.

    (Note: not saying other commercial web fonts services are not protecting fonts, I just haven't studied what they are doing.)
  • vernon adamsvernon adams Posts: 82
    edited December 2013
    DaveCrossland said: Skyfonts allows installing a font for 5 minutes for use in any application; since this includes font editors, you can open the font and save it on your desktop. This is not more difficult than dragging a font out of the developer pane of the browser.
    I know. It's so simple to sidestep the pay-for-it controls and get hold of these fonts unlicensed.

    It's exactly why theres are some designers and foundries who have stuck to their guns and said 'no way!' to the use of their proprietary works in that way. Those foundries probably do not want to try to 'increase sales' by allowing such easy theft of their work.

    Monotype may be correct that this strategy of leaving the doors open will increase sales, and 'some' designers may get a worthwhile % of any increase in sales, but my admiration is with the designers who have understood that surrendering their work is not their market, and have decided they are probably better served selling their work differently.
  • vernon adamsvernon adams Posts: 82
    edited December 2013
    So my observation as product manager and font library manager for WebINK is that we know of essentially zero piracy from WebINK itself. Presumably because there are much easier ways to get the original, intact fonts. Why bother ripping them from WebINK or Typekit?
    Hi Thomas,

    How can you know it's zero from WebINK? Or is that a secret? :)

    Also, i'm a bit shocked by the argument that the piracy of fonts is so easy, that you're not expecting that the fonts will get ripped from browsers. Has the expectancy that people actually pay for fonts reached such a low? I wonder what the typical ratio is of licensed users of a typeface to unlicensed users of that typeface. Sounds like licensed users are a very small %? What do you think?
  • Dave Crossland: The implications of your rejoinder to Ramiro Espinosa's remarks are utterly false and I would think you know it--at least I hope you do. The fonts you cite are serious, interpretative work based upon lettering styles that never before existed as type. Whether or not you or I like them is another matter. But even if they had been based on typographic forms, one must acknowledge that the majority of 20th- and 21st-century type designs are historical revivals or inspirations (the latter being the category into which Espinosa's font fall) of one sort or another, whether from far back in time or not so long ago. Revivals, some more broadly interpretative than others, are a central part of our typographic culture. There are precedents for nearly everything. Truly original type designs are quite rare, and many that could be said to be "original" are not very useful. That's largely because the underlying forms are preexistent and we bring to them a huge amount of cultural baggage.

    The key criteria in judging the worthiness of revivals are the probity brought to bear on the new interpretation, the skill at adapting early forms for the technology at hand, and whether or not it makes a useful contribution to the repertoire. Does it work for designers in real-life typography? How does it compare with similar types? And, perhaps most importantly, does it have a soul of its own? We know when it doesn't, and we know when it's close but not quite there.

    I'm not seeing a lot of soulful work on Google Fonts. What I fear is that, for many, what's there will be good enough, especially for the price.
  • Thanks Scott for your thoughtful contribution.

    Ramiro, like Erik Speikermann in the video I posted up this thread, says he studies the work of other designers to establish a stylistic framework to work within, and then draws all the shapes himself. That's what many designers who have made libre fonts published in GF have done, just as many designers who made made non-libre fonts - like Ramiro and Erik - have done.

    I do acknowledge that the majority of 20th- and 21st-century type designs are historical revivals or inspirations and this is a central part of our typographic culture. I don't understand why its okay for Ramiro to do this, but not okay for Vern and Pablo to do it.

    I am seeking that understanding.

    When you say, the letterforms Ramiro derived from were not type, that's a fine point. Also, the letterforms he copied directly were made by people who are now dead. A fine point.

    When you say 'its about the soul', well, this is a very fuzzy, mysterious concept for me. Pablo has advocated for it in other threads, but I must say, I don't get it. I hope you and others who believe in the souls of fonts can tell me more about them?

    You may know when a font doesn't have a soul, but I sure don't.
  • Have most of you guys read this by John Downer? http://www.emigre.com/Editorial.php?sect=2&id=1

    I feel it covers many of the issues being discussed regarding revivals/inspiration etc.
  • vernon adamsvernon adams Posts: 82
    edited December 2013
    Scott Martin wrote:The implications of your rejoinder to Ramiro Espinosa's remarks are utterly false and I would think you know it--at least I hope you do. The fonts you cite are serious, interpretative work based upon lettering styles that never before existed as type.
    The fonts on that site are not the best examples of what you are trying to prove. Some are clearly well executed and skilled labour intensive, but are derived from another artist's pre existant works, which is apparently something that you condemn. Drape it with the pseud's catch-all of 'revival' all you like, it's still a derivative work. And that is a totally acceptable practice that artists, craftsmen and tool makers have carried out for at least 2 thousand years. What you can't do is praise derivation on one hand, but condemn it on the other hand. That's just showing blindness to what you are looking at. If you are trying to talk about counterfeit (but i don't think you are) then that's another matter. But even counterfeits can be well executed. Sometimes, ironically, that's their undoing.
    So i am curious what might be behind your uneven handedness on derivative works. You do know it's ok to have taste, right? You can simply say "i don't like some things"; all the intellectual gymnastics for dividing 'good' objects from 'bad' objects is not really necessary.
  • vernon adamsvernon adams Posts: 82
    edited December 2013
    Have most of you guys read this by John Downer? http://www.emigre.com/Editorial.php?sect=2&id=1
    Yes. For me, that's exactly typical of the pseudo intellectual, pseudo academic, promotional material that tries to constructs a "special case" for contemporary type design, whilst totally ignoring all other creative fields, past and present. That stuff gives a massive 'feel good' factor to type & design people though, which is no doubt why people lap it up. I don't blame them, to be honest, it's very seductive :) Makes you feel like your doing something waay more important than making the letters that print the text in another dodgy novel, or creating the branding for another corporation that pays starvation wages.
    #type_downer
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