HAYCORN — 15 June 2008

CSS files for embeddable fonts

[Update The site webfonts.info has a list of the fonts avail­able for embedding, and two of the three fonts I list below (Liberation and Vera) aren’t present. So al­though these fonts are freely redistributable, it seems they’re not ac­tu­ally avail­able for embedding. I’m not what the legal dis­tinc­tion is—?]

Safari now supports down­load­able fonts, meaning that—from a tech­ni­cal perspective—web pages can appear in pretty much any font the de­signer chooses. (A clumsy Flash-based tech­nique called sIFR made it pos­si­ble to use dif­fer­ent fonts for headings, though not body text.) In fact, if you’re using a recent version of Safari, and are viewing this on the web, this sen­tence will appear in Gentium Basic.

Unfortunately, the license agree­ment for almost every high-quality font pre­vents them from being redistributed, and there­fore from being used on web pages in this way. However, there are a few exceptions:

An article on A List Apart de­scribes how to create web pages with em­bed­d­a­ble fonts; here’s CSS files for Gentium, Liberation and Vera.

For some reason quite a few browsers seem to be er­ro­neously down­load­ing these fonts: only Safari sup­ports em­bed­ded fonts at this point, but the server log files in­di­cate the clients with IE 6.0 and IE 7.0 user agents are down­load­ing them as well. Does anyone know why this is happening? Are they in­dis­crim­i­nately down­load­ing all url() links?

[On a sep­a­rate note, the reason why the SIL are in­ter­ested in fonts is some­what interesting: they’re an evangelical Chris­t­ian organisation with a focus on un­writ­ten languages. (I’m guess­ing their ul­ti­mate aim is to expose as many people as pos­si­ble to the Bible, though their aca­d­e­mic lin­guis­tic work seems rea­son­ably sep­a­rate from their mis­sion­ary activities, and their work is re­spected in aca­d­e­mic circles.)]