Google Fonts: Your Questions, Answered



  • @David Berlow;

    I would be interested (and i hope others would be too) to hear your views on the way proprietary fonts are being exposed so easily to theft now, by services like typekit, webtype, adobe, monotype.

    I'm thinking about your push some years back for the 'Permissions Table' to be implemented at 'industry level', to protect fonts from this easy theft whilst being used as 'webfonts'.

    In a 2009 interview in Typography, with Jeffrey Zeldman, you stated the need for a proper 'type-like' protection of proprietary type if it was to be used across the web. You expected designers to agree on such a standard of protection, and to disagree with the default 'unprotected' standard. You summed up the other option, that fonts be used exposed on the web like this; "that the type industry cede its intellectual property to the public without permission—is not going to happen".

    Now that it (ceding its intellectual property to the public without permission) has happened, and proprietary webfonts can be downloaded illegally, so simply, with a few clicks from a standard web browser. Why do you think it did happen? What have been the stumbling blocks to protecting type property on the web? Or maybe you disagree with me, and feel that type property is adequately protected now on the web? Or maybe you changed your mind about protecting type property since the permissions table idea?

    many thanks
  • What is your point?
  • Stick to the topic, Vernon.

    I still don’t see a difference between libre and non-libre fonts in relationship to web assets. The biggest difference is just the fee that needs to be paid in order to use, or modify the font in question. If libre fonts are used in a commercial environment, they do compete directly with non-libre fonts.
  • Dave CrosslandDave Crossland Posts: 1,074
    edited December 2013
    Paul, I think Vern's questions for David raise an important aspect of this topic. Clearly (as Jackson has just demonstrated) the attitudes to web fonts overall have changed over the last 3 years, as have people's attitudes to GF (as I am asking John Hudson about.) The attitudes about web fonts are a wider context in which attitudes to GF overlap, so its very relevant.

    Again using a Venn diagram metaphor, I think Vern is trying to say that there is an area of usage which libre fonts covers and which proprietary fonts do not, and therefore libre and proprietary fonts do not compete at all, because proprietary fonts are not possible to use at all in that space. A concrete example of a usage in that space is the use of web fonts in unrestricted wordpress themes, say. (In fact Pablo explains this MUCH better than I have below... :)


    > What is your point?

    "Is there a point to all this?"

  • Jackson, how was that? That was excellent - sincere thanks for your thoughtful post!
  • PabloImpallariPabloImpallari Posts: 544
    edited December 2013
    I still don’t see a difference between libre and non-libre fonts in relationship to web assets. The biggest difference is just the fee that needs to be paid in order to use, or modify the font in question. If libre fonts are used in a commercial environment, they do compete directly with non-libre fonts.
    I agree with the last part. They may be competence when used in commercial environments, but I'm not worried about that because I still think that they are an entry point, growing the market for commercial fonts.

    The difference you (and others) are not yet seeing is what John Hudson have been trying to discuss:
    The breakthrough for me in understanding why Google Fonts favours open licenses came when I sat down with David Kuettel and he explained some of the reasons why it is useful for Google services for fonts to be licensed in this way. These were particular technical benefits, relating to Google's services (e.g. the more widespread the use of a webfont, the more end user systems it will be cached on, and hence the quicker Google services using that font can be deployed to that user), and while I doubt if I grasped all of the ways in which Google indirectly derives benefits from the GF fonts, I do at least understand that there are sensible business decisions involved.
    There is also an emerging need for fonts that needs to be freely shared (for example when bundled with other freely shared web software), and that need can not be satisfied by traditional fonts, because, by definition, commercial fonts can't be shared. It's not about price, its about the freedom to share.
    Libre fonts are a solution to that problem, in the same way that inktraps are a solution to printing problems.

    Let me try to put a simple example, maybe it will help you see that difference more clearly:
    Many of you, in particular those related to web development an CSS, may remember CSS Zen Garden by Dave Shea. (For the ones that doesn't know it, is was a website that pushed css and html standard to a new level, among web developers). Recently, CSS garden turned 10 years old, and to celebrate it, Dave Shea resurrected it by creating a new theme, and encouraging other designers to also submit new themes to address the new challenges of web design (adaptive design, multiple resolutions, etc, etc..).
    In Dave Shea's post, you can read:
    Web fonts? Sure. Though I’m not quite sure how you’re gonna pull it off. TypeKit and other hosted services that require tag insertion are out, and licensing probably means you shouldn’t submit your purchased font files. If you can work out some other way to make it work legally, go nuts, but it’s looking like free fonts are your best friend here.
    As a result, David Shea used my Libre Baskerville.
    A few days later, in a clever move, Typekit made an "exception" for CSS Zen Garden, making the fonts "somewhat libre" for designers submitting their themes to it.
    This is a very simple example... there are, of course, other more complex ones.

    If you disregard whatever I say, take it from David Lemon:
    Yes, there's a need for "Libre" fonts.
    Heck, they own an entire library of commercial fonts... however their still needed a Libre font in order to bundle it with

    Another example, will be things like Wordpress, Drupal, etc... They want to make use of webfonts bundled with their platform (not only via plugins, they also want to bundle some fonts), but unless commercial foundries start making "exceptions" (ala ZenGarden) they will need to use Libre fonts instead.

    You are handling very well the use-case of fonts bundled with commercial apps. But you are not yet handling at all the use-case of fonts bundled with Open Source apps.
  • You are handling very well the use-case of fonts bundled with commercial apps. But you are not yet handling at all the use-case of fonts bundled with Open Source apps.
    This brings us back to the question about if fonts are infrastructure/tools/etc or not. Adam Twardoch recently posted on the Google Fonts Discuss mailing list:
    On a more general note:

    Speaking from experience, I can say that there is a portion of the open-source font development community that has so far contributed a great deal to the typographic community. The commercial font world may not be receiving money from the open-source community but frequently receives important contributions in terms of highly-qualified customer feedback, developer time, bug reports and novel usage.

    The Dutch type scene's contributions are a bit untypical. In particular, I mean the fontTools/TTX package which has been originally written by Just van Rossum, a colleague of Frank's at the KABK in The Hague. Just is not what you'd consider a typical libre software developer, but I imagine that his contribution has been largely motivated by his family origins: Just's older brother Guido van Rossum is, as we all know, the principal creator of Python, one of the most popular 'new' scripting languages of this time. I think a lot of Python's elegance and usefulness from early on can be attributed to some form of informal collaboration between the van Rossums: though I do know this for a fact, I guess that Guido must have taken feedback from Just, and from his colleagues Erik and Petr van Blokland while authoring Python.

    These fortunate circumstances have led to Python becoming an undisputed favorite in the type design and font development realm, with fontTools/TTX at its very heart.

    I must note that several large companies tried to establish alternatives to fontTools. I was part of an effort in the early 2000s by the font groups at Microsoft, Adobe and Apple to establish an XML representation of the SFNT container, and to produce software that would convert SFNT to XML and back. This effort essentially led to nothing, though some traces of it are still visible in Apple's ftx commandline tools. Also stemming from this, Adobe has once developed a Java-based "Annotated OpenType Spec" package, which included the OpenType spec in XML form with annotations, Java tools to manipulate portions of the fonts and some example test fonts. This effort has also been abandoned.

    Just like in real life, some efforts are done better when openly shared and carried through public or wide-open private funding. They're typically called "infrastructure", and include things like roads, railways, electrification, cities, canals, education etc. These are large-scale efforts that don't yield a profit margin for an individual entity but are indispensable for the community as a whole, and allow individual businesses to operate and to yield profit on their own realms. Other efforts are better off when left to private business enterprises which can steer their decisions and be motivated by profits.

    This thinking has been a foundation of the post-Medieval Western European society, and has so far shown to be probably the most effective.

    In computing, I believe the same principles apply. Open-source projects are at their best when they aim at providing "infrastructure". Just like you build a highway using public money and then let businesses "embellish" it by adding service points such as hotels, restaurants or gas stations that are operated privately, the Apache web server project is developed as open-source but some extensions or customized applications may be offered by private entities on a commercial basis.

    I'm citing Apache here, and would quote other permissive open-source licensing models such as BSD or MIT, because those are, in my opinion, deeply rooted in the harmonious co-existance of public and private interests that is the basis of the civilization model originating in Western Europe. And this is why I'll always refer to Richard Stallman and the FSF gang as communists. :)

    [Adam's post continues below]
  • Adam continues,

    Back to my musings about the contributions of the open-source font community: we already have evidence that the existence of fontTools/TTX has allowed many commercial font projects to be completed while they otherwise couldn't. We have seen that the development of the open-source OpenType Layout engine HarfBuzz (major credit to Behdad here) has not only allowed products outside of Windows to display OpenType fonts properly, but has also led to the discovery of bugs in Microsoft's Uniscribe engine, in the Adobe FDK for OpenType toolkit and in a number of commercially-developed OpenType fonts. We also have evidence that the development of FreeType (David Turner, and now Werner Lemberg) has done the same to font rasterization.

    These projects are not "products", they're "infrastructure". Free, well-documented and well-available software infrastructure which allows businesses to build upon and innovate products.

    There are a number of other open-source projects which play the same role. One massive is the ICU library, one that never has gained really significant recognition at the level it should is TeX (though I must applaud to Frank's efforts in awarding Don Knuth the Dr. Peter Karow award last month).

    To me, the most important open-source font projects -- and the ones that actually matter and make a difference -- are those which provide infrastructure. I could cite some mathematical typesetting fonts such as STIX, later turned into XITS by Khaled, I could cite the new Noto project financed by Google which aims at a complete linguistic coverage of all the world's living scripts (and possibly some dead ones), I can also name projects such as Junicode or EB Garamond aim to provide a classical body typeface with a character set suitable to cover all kinds of needs to specialty linguists, I can name a number of SIL projects, in particular Gentium and Charis, that play the same role.

    In my personal opinion, whenever open-source projects aim to become products, they usually fail. Scribus is not really a good page layout application (Pages and InDesign are better). InkScape is a frustrating vector drawing application (Illustrator or even Sketch are better). Gimp is quite all-right, but Photoshop or the new Mac shooting star Pixelmator are much better still.

    And FontForge is good as a Python library for automated font manipulation, but is not really a good type design application.

    Please note that these are all my personal views. I essentially for them though my own experience -- I know which applications and software packages I use, in which case I choose open-source software and in which case I choose to use commercial closed-source apps, for which I pay gladly.

    So, there is no conflict between open-source and non-open-source in my view.
  • Also, @James Puckett said on page 1 of this thread,
    If only there were some kind of online forums where the Google web fonts team could take questions directly from the public…
    Indeed, Raph Levien, also wrote on the Google Fonts discussion list on the aspect of this thread about type design inspiration:

    Hi all. I'm going to try to answer Thomas's original question - what do I consider appropriate in terms of drawing inspiration. Let me say from the outset that this is my personal opinion, certainly not any kind of official policy of my employer.

    All fonts are based on what came before them, to varying degrees. This is a normal and good thing, and should be celebrated, not scorned. That said, I strongly believe there are good and bad ways to do this. To me, originality is one of many factors in quality, and cannot be separated out cleanly. Also, it's a gray area, and subjective to a large extent. To my eyes, Crimson looks nothing like Minion, not even trying to imitate Slimbach's signature calligraphic flair. Conversely, for a long time I was pretty convinced that Calibri was inspired directly by Computer Modern Sans (without credit). Only after chatting with Luc de Groot was I satisfied that the similarities weren't as strong as I thought, and to the extent that they were, it was from drawing on similar sources and having a very similar design goal (after all, both are the default sans font in the document preparation systems that commissioned them). Other people's eyes will rate the similarities differently.

    Fonts that are revivals or even direct redrawings of "classic" fonts now in the public domain are worthwhile. To me anything over a hundred years ago or so is also clearly fair game, and also pretty much anything in the ATF catalog. On the other side, any time the designer is still living, I consider direct copies unacceptable. We had people offering these to us, and we consistently rejected them.

    Even for new versions of very old fonts, quality matters. You still see revivals coming out today such as Benton Sans and American Gothic, because the originals are amazing and there is value in adapting them to modern design standards, including making them more "webby." Yet, a crappy digitization such as Ascender's original News Gothic is so poor that I would consider it barely ethical, especially considering the wide distribution it got through bundling (I rarely call out badness by name, but seriously, take a look at

    So public domain is a clear yes, and outright copies of modern fonts are a clear no. That leaves a _huge_ gray area, and that's what's fueling such passionate discussion now. In general, I think it's a good idea to draw inspiration from existing fonts but bring something of your own to them, and font design has a long, rich tradition of that. I'll pick on the fonts inspired by Avenir to illustrate my point more sharply. Most people probably wouldn't be able to tell the difference between Avenir, Gotham, and Museo Sans (and I remember when happened, which made me chuckle). But I think everyone here would agree that the latter two are truly excellent executions, and the designers of both brought something of themselves, certainly not just copying Adrian Frutiger's seminal idea. These are a clear yes to me.

    [Raph's post continues below]
  • Dave CrosslandDave Crossland Posts: 1,074
    edited December 2013
    Raph continues,

    Another example I'll pick on is Whitney and Source Sans. I enjoy playing the "guess the font" game followed by Inspect Element, and I found myself often confusing the two, especially at text sizes. Both explicitly cite the Benton gothics as inspiration (Whitney additionally cites Frutiger), so it's not surprising that they ended up with a lot of similarity (see for a comparison image). I think these fonts are absolutely great, and I have a tremendous amount of respect and admiration for the designers of both fonts. Needless to say, I'm thrilled to have Source Sans available on Google Fonts, thanks to Adobe's generosity. Yet, I do wonder, if it had arrived there with an Eastern European or Latino name as the credit, whether that might have been featured on Tiffany's imaginary tumblr that started this whole discussion.

    That said, there have been plenty of times a proposal was sent to us where I said, "yeah, that looks too much like an existing font," and I always rejected those. Originality absolutely is one of the criteria we used, and I always favored something truly original over a merely competent execution of an existing idea. Of course, as Adam says, within the domain of clean sans fonts it's hard to say something truly new.

    The goal of Google Fonts project has never been building a collection of "high style" fonts, where every font would impress a panel of distinguished print designers. Rather, we wanted to make a wide variety of fonts available for easy use. We tried to make sure every font set a minimum quality level, especially for things like character set coverage and rendering bugs, so that users would never say, "wow, I wish I didn't use a web font for that." If none of the fonts in the Google collection are considered good or appropriate enough, I am very happy for web designers to go and buy the font they need, and put some coin in a font designer's pocket.

    One of the things I'm most proud of is that we experimented and iterated a lot on how to truly design fonts for the Web. Vern's Oswald and Pablo's Dancing Script are two early examples that exemplify what I'm talking about. Oswald is, of course, almost a direct copy of Benton's Alternate Gothic design, but if you look at it carefully, there are lots of small details that make it work better on the web. It's currently the Number 3 most popular Google font at about a billion and a half served a week, and I can see why.

    The "voice" of the Google Fonts collection is young and fast-moving, and I don't apologize for that for an instant. I am very proud of the talented designers we've worked with and how strongly the common goal of designing _for the web_ has resonated. A large part of the process is using analytics ( to figure out what works and what doesn't, and then iterating quickly. In some cases that means improving existing fonts, in other cases churning more out based on what was learned. I don't think we would have been able to do that nearly as well had we worked with designers who, pardon the expression, had a broad-nibbed pen stuck up their ass. Don't get me wrong, I absolutely love fonts that represent years of intense craftsmanship. That's just not what we were doing. And again, if people want those fonts for their projects, I heartily recommend they go out and buy them.

    I hope I've expressed a little of my thinking, and hopefully have brought a little light (and not much heat) to this discussion.

  • Mark SimonsonMark Simonson Posts: 1,281
    edited December 2013
    "Is there a point to all this?"
    As I started watching the video, right when the guy says, "Is there a point to all this? Let's find a point.", an ad pops up in the bottom of the frame, as if on cue.
  • Deleted AccountDeleted Account Posts: 739
    edited December 2013
    First off, Vernon, I did not, and let me be perfectly clear about this, ever, propose a 'Permissions Table' alone.

    Secondly, if he wants to, he can drown out the conversation by pasting infinitely, and we are screwed, because it's Dave's thread.

  • Nick ShinnNick Shinn Posts: 1,681
    edited December 2013
    I have a completely different understanding of design than Raph.

    I can’t deny the role of evolving technology in changing the rules of the game, but that only firms my committment that art is to be fought for and preserved in any new balance between man and machine.

    Missing from this discussion is what makes a typeface a typeface.
    A typeface has a grammar and vocabulary of themes, expressed in details, curves and proportions.
    These have to operate as a systemic whole, or else it’s not a typeface, at best a restyling of a previous typeface, at worst a dog’s breakfast.
    The whole has to be based on an original concept, a coherent idea about how detail and proportion combine throughout the glyph set, and that idea has to be significantly dependent on skilled, deft execution.
    Most Google Fonts lack this totality, this fusion of skilled execution and concept—and being able to refine something iteratively via analytic tools or whatever is no substitue, it merely polishes the piece of coal.
    All “clean sans” fonts will look the same if one doesn’t see with this understanding of the wholeness implicit in an authentic typeface created, as it must be, under the eye of someone with experience—which is not to be equated with having a broad-nibbed pen stuck up your ass.

    Certainly, there are genres of off-the-street, novice design that have vernacular, prodigal brilliance, but these are not going to be workhorse sanses.
    New technology can breathe fresh life into stagnant areas of culture, I saw it happen 20-25 years ago. But as design tools, Google Fonts’ embrace of analytics and webfont hinting is not producing the like of Matrix, Template Gothic, or Insignia.

    Sure, encourage inexperienced designers from emerging digital design countries, pump some money into their economies (and pay less for the product).
    But ask why the resulting quality often looks like student work and is derided by the establishment.
    Look around at other disciplines: creatives have to pay their dues, put in their “10,000 hours” to produce most things of real value. Why should type design be any different?

    New technology is exploited in two ways.
    Firstly, with poor copies of the exemplars of old tech, which are desirable because they are familiar and cheap.
    Secondly, with radical new creations, also rough around the edges.
    Google Fonts is not really about new technology, because the type design tools are the FreeHand derived, vector-based ones that have been around since 1988.
    By now, we should expect sophisticated versions of the classics and refined new work—and that is what we are getting from the drivers of type culture—the economic sector of digital foundries that has been going strong for at least as long as MyFonts.

    I’m impressed with the design of the Google Fonts web site, and the way the fonts look in text showings. Of course, this is an important part of type design, no doubt the most important for web fonts, but it is only part of what makes a typeface a typeface. Looking at the majority of Google Fonts at display size, which we need to do professionally in order to fully understand their personality, and assess their distinctiveness and precise quality, to place them amongst the mental catalog of all types we each carry—their heavy-handed design and execution becomes apparent.

    The idea that there are enough new Google Fonts and the task is to refine the existing ones won’t work for long in a font-use market that is driven by new releases and new ideas.

  • @David Berlow
    First off, Vernon, I did not, and let me be perfectly clear about this, ever, propose a 'Permissions Table' alone.
    David, yes i'm very aware that it was not your proposal alone, that is clear (sorry if i implied it was just you), and maybe not even your proposal originally. But i remember you being pretty adamant about the need for it at that time, as the interview with Jeffrey Zeldman showed, i think. I understood why you were adamant about it then, and i think what has happened since shows that you were correct.

    So... has your opinion changed? If so, what changed? If not, why do you think designers have accepted what, i see, as such a bad situation for their property?
    Secondly, if he wants to, he can drown out the conversation by pasting infinitely, and we are screwed, because it's Dave's thread.
    I think Dave will stop pasting in order to read, if you reply to my question :-)
  • Dave CrosslandDave Crossland Posts: 1,074
    edited December 2013
    David, definitely not my intent to drown out the conversation - just the opposite, since the majority of this board are not on the GF list, but those 2 posts (from dozens in the threads they are from) are very relevant to this one, and I think it is valuable to surface them to the good folks here. And I think Nick's response demonstrates this.

    I remember that you didn't propose a 'Permissions Table' alone, and I agree Vernon is brusque to leave the other contributors out. I am most curious what your views are on the substance of the questions Vern raises, though...
  • vernon adamsvernon adams Posts: 82
    edited December 2013
    k_l_ wrote: What is your point?
    Paul van der Laan wrote: Stick to the topic, Vernon.
    My point is, and it's exactly on the topic, why have type designers accepted a situation where a handful of corporations are allowing such easy, illegal, access to people's non-free fonts?

    It's like these type corporations don't care at all about the theft of designers work, as long as they, the corporations, can grab more market. The actual designers, as ever, are expected to just bend over and take it.

    David Berlow (amongst others) warned some years ago that one option for getting type across the web was that designers would end up surrendering their 'intellectual property' to the public. He assumed, quite sensibly i thought, that designers would never let such a thing happen. But they have!!!

  • Pablo said (several times): "I still think that they are an entry point, growing the market for commercial fonts."

    Really? On what do you base such thinking? In an environment of scarcity or novelty, giving away samples in order to grow interest in the market can be very effective. But in a mature market (let's not get into the age of this or that font format), especially one that's grossly overpopulated (Malthus again), there can be no such benefit. There are exceptions, such as when the giveaway represents a "breakthrough," something obviously--even to the masses--superior or unlike anything seen before, or with features no one had thought of before. Why do you think so many old products emblazon their packaging with "New and Improved," when the only thing that's really new is the label?

    But even more to the point, I think you've been telling yourself that you're giving away fonts in order to grow the market for commercial fonts as a kind of cover for a very weak moral position. To tell you the truth, I think it's narcissistic. Moreover, in the vast sea of mediocrity (and worse) that is Google Fonts, how do you get noticed? I'm sure you can tell me that your fonts have been viewed X000 times, and downloaded Y000 times, but what if others that you, yourself, consider atrocious have been viewed and downloaded even more? Still a success for you?

    Fame from Google Fonts seems to me about as likely as growing green, gauzy wings and flying to the Moon under your own power. What's a lot likelier is that you are hurting the very principle of pay for creative work. If it were true that fonts were just tools, as someone on this thread seems to think, there would be no reason for there to be so many of them.

    You have no control of Google's business practices. (It seems that no one does.) What if they start selling ad space on the font board? And what if they're ads for fonts, creating the kind of cut-throat competition you say you don't like? Will you be able to take down the fonts that you gave away for free? Sorry, Pablo, they're not your fonts anymore.
  • PabloImpallariPabloImpallari Posts: 544
    edited December 2013
    Really? On what do you base such thinking?
    I have provided plenty of examples all over the thread. Some of them are linked in the sentence you have quoted. The most fascinating one (to me) is Monotype promoting Libre fonts to encourage sales on commercial fonts via Skyfonts and Typecast. If my assumption was not true, why would they do that? to hurt their own sales? That makes no bussines sense, so you must have to concede that one on me.
    I think you've been telling yourself that you're giving away fonts in order to grow the market for commercial fonts as a kind of cover for a very weak moral position. To tell you the truth, I think it's narcissistic.
    Jaja that was funny... it's your impression, but certainly it's not mine.
    but what if others that you, yourself, consider atrocious have been viewed and downloaded even more? Still a success for you?
    Everyone it's free to think or believe whatever they want. I don't have any problem with other people thinking in different ways.
    What if they start selling ad space on the font board? And what if they're ads for fonts, creating the kind of cut-throat competition you say you don't like?
    I don't have any problem with that. They can be used (and they are being used) for whatever the people want to do with them. Adobe and Monotype are using them for promoting their stuff, and I have no problem whatsoever. Libre means freedom, they are unrestricted for better or worse. If we start placing restriction on the things they can be user for, they will lose their freedom.
    Sorry, Pablo, they're not your fonts anymore.
    I am aware of that since the first day. And it's one of the things I LOVE most about Libre fonts.
    In fact I have said the very same thing about them in a comment, 2 years ago.
    My fonts are out there floating in the Cloud,
    They have learned to fly, taking a life on their own.
    They are no longer my fonts..
    They are your fonts now.
    While you want to remain in control of your fonts... I want mines to break free.
  • It must be nice to have such an unburdened mind.
  • PabloImpallariPabloImpallari Posts: 544
    edited December 2013
    Lol... I'm Paul Bernardo now :)
    Sorry Scott, but If you want to call me a psychopath, you will first have to demonstrate why Monotype (and other distributors) are promoting Libre fonts. To hurt their own sales? Certainly not. To sell more commercial licenses? You can bet on it.
  • yes i'm very aware that it was not your proposal alone
    I'm sure you misunderstood my positioning of the word "alone".

    The EPAR was to hold permissions, this is what others wanted to add. I saw the issue of support for typography going forward into an environment with changing presentational uncertainties, per font, and wanted to allow for libre and Indy foundries, (where the support for products is slim to none), to compete, by including the possibility of reccomendations for all these new and old variables essential to anyone publishing on the internet with fonts, as the extensive network of word-of-mouth meta data has been in the world of print.

    Companies like FB and HFJ and Linotype and many others have people sitting by the phone, and on the web, 8/6/243 helping customers with all kinds of goo, from font names to individual pixels. The R in EPAR is what separates good typographic support for many, on the web, from little or none. So, e.g. as opposed to searching google fonts fonts for such mundanities as width, weight, (and you get distorted answers for the os2 divorce table on those two), date added (so what?), or trending, which might just appeal to some people, users could search for a good blinking font, fonts that have particular quality of hints, fonts that can be tracked, work well minus kerning, or by any css type or font attribute for which there is a recommendation. A lot of folks agreed, but the ones who did not, asked the kinds of questions that drown progress in mundane answers I have little time for, like, "it's optional".

    The second purpose of this EPAR, of course, was to see what could get the fucking font format moving with the times. It's extensible, but only if it's extended. Fonts were going where few fonts had been before. Having made many of the fonts that went first on the web, I though about what was next, a lot. Responsive typography was already there and getting wild on resolution. Instead, companies chose to use TT and OT simply to record their typo technical divorces, as with the OS/2 table, or other platform specific format changes. I got the message. We started building reccomendations in ourselves, we had ta for Webtype. My opinion on this has not changed, it's just been internalized.

    Also, there was no Google fonts then. When Dave came to us for something or other involving giving money to google, I said sure! Just get them to support EPAR in all their fonts. I'm. Still. Waiting...and don't disappoint me or I'll blow the 12 million I saved to help google fonts on a party instead. ;)

    As for the mega issue you raise of how "the type designers" let the intellectual property of the whole industry free, let me know when that happens. I mean by that, that we have the tools required to find our fonts in use, and believe me, we do. What drm could not do, the internet provides for free. So, I'm not sure about the "bend over and take it" refers to me, or anyone I grew up with or helped grow in this industry, as much as it applies to people compelled to work for "views" and the referrals from them, but that could be a simple generational thing.

  • vernon adamsvernon adams Posts: 82
    edited December 2013
    I remember that you didn't propose a 'Permissions Table' alone, and I agree Vernon is brusque to leave the other contributors out.
    I dont think i was being brusque, i was just using the same shorthand (David Berlow + 'perm' table) that was in common use back in 2009/2010. Anyway, i cant see that "who came up with it?" is interesting. "What happened to it?" is the question. And then the big question is why do type designers accept these systems of font delivery that allow such easy theft of their designs?

    Just for the record;
    David Berlow, July 15, 2009 - Boston.
    "What follows then is a proposal for an OpenType Permissions table in human-readable alpha form." -->
    Sadly that link is now a 404 and sadly no cache remains, but i prob have my text version somehwere.
    16 Jul 2009 8 pm eastern
    "David Berlow of The Font Bureau has proposed a Permissions Table for OpenType that can be implemented immediately to turn raw fonts into web fonts without any wrappers or other nonsense. If adopted, it will enable type designers to license their work for web use, and web designers to create pages that use real fonts via the CSS @font-face standard."
    "Jeffrey Zeldman reasons out a third alternative in this post and a followup comment about David Berlow’s proposal – a Permissions Table for OpenType"
    "Berlow is proposing a mechanical addition to fonts, which any font maker can easily implement, that will indicate if a font is licensed for web use."
    "With the current interest surrounding Typekit and yesterday’s announcement by David Berlow of Font Bureau of a proposal for a Permissions Table for OpenType, the issue of typography on the web is, thankfully, appearing to reach a tipping point (not before time)."
    Karsten Luecke wrote:
    "Or of course David Berlow's 'perm' table which has a section "Scaling" with both point- and pixel(=ppem)-related min/optimum/max size entries."

  • Deleted AccountDeleted Account Posts: 739
    edited December 2013
    Hope that helps. My experience in discussions like this is that if it doesn't go well for the google, or MS or any other geek city state you can name, I get a back attack, usually from a consultant, and I'm fine with that. But remember, we're not in this for money, or views or pride, or goreless backs, but because we love type in ways that make people want to know more than "how many", a lot actually want to know "how few", and we don't want the few to be because of missing glyphs or yens without bars, (Vern), we want font use defined by exclusivity of offer. This was not my idea, it's quite old, going back to heraldry and before, when the very colors of the rainbow were restricted to use by individuals or organizations. I know those days are over. Color belongs to everyone. :)

    And there is one other thing... Pablo says people use GF and then graduate to TK or WT, and all commercial customers will end up on HFJ. I would love to see the proof, any proof that this is the case, but we researched some stuff, and found that only a very little tiny teenie it'sy bit'sy slice of all the web sites in de whole world, have revenue. So, I think Pablo is, far fetching this idea.

    And there is yet one other other thing, and that is that I want EPAR, and size, and time tables because I'm conservative typographically, not radical. When Dr. K introduced me to digital outlines, e.g. I and everyone else rubbed our hands together to scale type from one resolution to another, not from one size to another. Scaling type independently of size, with few responsive options other than, "user switch the fucking master", has led us to a vast and boring trove of low contrast, san serif or slab, huge lowercases, you can see them everywhere. I can see every short circuit or denial of type tech play out in the typography the world gets. Google, needless to say, is the worst I has ever lain my eyes upon, per view. ;) it's young, its not all their fault, and those is the best things about it so far.

    I realize this has been long for me, (I never hit a post limit until this form said (307 characters too long!), and there are no questions for google, and I'm sorry for that, but it's libre, and ya know what that means.
  • PabloImpallariPabloImpallari Posts: 544
    edited December 2013
    Pablo says people use GF and then graduate to TK or WT, and all commercial customers will end up on HFJ.
    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. And the move will be gradually, not overnight, as websites takes time to be redesigned or re-developed. And you should not count only the tiny % that moved, but also the ones that are now signing-up for their new projects.

    Many of the people that will never consider using GF, may now choose HFJ instead of TK or WT, since you all target the more typographically educated high-end web typography market, while GF targets a more massive, less-refined end of the spectrum.
    HFJ has exploded! Many of the "cool guys (Dan Ceheldrom, Kottle, etc...)" are going that way, and they are trend setters. Anyway... My point was that the most fierce competition for the high-end market will be between those 3 services, as they will never consider using GF in the first place, because it's too mainstream, and they are hipsters :)

    Don't take it personally. I'm not attacking you. I deeply love your RE fonts webfonts series, they are among the best. I have recommended them many times, I still do, and I think they are great webfonts (as opposed to all the auto-converted ones being offered by Myfonts et all, many also at GF).
  • vernon adamsvernon adams Posts: 82
    edited December 2013
    As for the mega issue you raise of how "the type designers" let the intellectual property of the whole industry free, let me know when that happens. I mean by that, that we have the tools required to find our fonts in use, and believe me, we do. What drm could not do, the internet provides for free.
    Sure, the 'industry' property seems as fine as ever. I am talking about the properties of individual designers and smaller foundries. Those are the ones who allow their fonts to be hosted on the servers of particular corporations and have thus effectively surrendered the property of those fonts to anyone who, with a few clicks, can download them.

    In 2009, designers and foundries were well aware that hosting fonts on servers as 'webfonts' was just those few clicks away from 'giving the font away'. Hence the array of proposals; .webfont, permissions table, etc that were needed to protect fonts. See my post above for just a snippet of evidence of the situation back then.

    You seem to be saying that the 'surrendering of intellectual property' that you said would occur if fonts were published onto the web without adequate protection, has not happened? It clearly has happened. Proprietary webfonts are on the web, en masse, exposed, with no adequate protection. The public can take what they like, without the designers getting paid. Nothing to stop it. Sounds to me like a 100% definition of 'cede intellectual property'.
    So, I'm not sure about the "bend over and take it" refers to me, or anyone I grew up with or helped grow in this industry, as much as it applies to people compelled to work for "views" and the referrals from them, but that could be a simple generational thing.
    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. I'm guessing FB found a way to serve fonts without exposing them as font files (?). The people who seem to be bending over though, are the individuals and small foundries, who are being squeezed so much that they probably feel little choice but to sign contracts that, in return for % royalties, leave their webfonts exposed to easy theft.

    Maybe the lack of protection afforded to the property of small foundries, young designers, etc is seen as some sort of 'collateral damage' in the grab for web-type territory. Who knows? but I see it as much more insidious and unethical than what people accuse google fonts of.

    It's ironic that many of the less established designers who complain about libre fonts are probably the ones who are really 'giving away' their work (and not getting paid!).
  • vernon adamsvernon adams Posts: 82
    edited December 2013
    @George Thomas
    :) thanks for that. I did find my own archived copy too;

    Date: July 15th, 2009
    Proposed by: David Berlow
    Description: OpenType Table
    Table Class: Other, possibly evolving to Required
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