15 Jun 2014
(updated 15 Jun 2014 at 20:53 UTC) »
Brötli compression and aggressive default subsetting
Working drafts of the Brötli compression spec
and the WOFF2 format
have been published. For those among you who don't know any Swiss-German
is the diminutive form and Brot
is bread, so brötli = small bread. Interestingly, it's based on previous optimization work released as zöpfli
being another kind of bread. Notice a pattern? I wonder if the cantine's menu or local pastry shop had an influence (but it looks like the Umlaut
has been lost in translation, oh well).
These small breads come in wide ranges, textures and flavours but it strikes me that the whole point is that, while good bread on its own can sometimes be tasty, it's really the variety of toppings and fillings in these "mini-sandwiches" that create something everyone can choose from and enjoy.
So, while I sincerely applaud all the amazing work done on compression and improving the common webfonts format, I think it's also worth pointing out that many webfont hosting services still strongly push towards a bland taste by default, i.e. without the varied ingredients as filling, i.e. serving a limited subset of the bigger fonts designed for more than one language. They tend to make it harder to use the original wider non-roman Unicode coverage and smart features but instead serve only the basic Latin, especially if you are interested in a lesser-known language and a more complex script. Ugh. Could taste a lot nicer.
For example in Google Fonts, various users keep complaining about how many fonts have been "optimized" to the point where they are broken and useless in various languages. You have to dig deep in the documentation to learn that to restore original functionality, you need to explicitly turn off the subsetting via
. Some people are less concerned with shaving off a few milliseconds and more with "will this actually work in my target language?".
Hopefully, smaller breads will not mean even less tasty filling IOW the compression gains will also allow fonts and web content in other languages beyond the Latin boundary to become more prominent and accessible. Making the subsetting less aggressive and limiting will result in a much tastier multilingual web.