Older blog entries for yosch (starting at number 133)

22 Jun 2011 (updated 22 Jun 2011 at 10:17 UTC) »
Mozilla's font inspector API

Yesterday's Mozilla platform meeting minutes has this:
"Jonathan Kew’s font inspector API landed. You can now write extensions that will tell you exactly what font(s) are being used to render any given DOM range including the entire document, or a single character. For downloaded fonts you can get metadata including the license."

See bug #467669: Need chrome-accessible API for getting list of font faces used by content and the corresponding one in Firebug: bug #3071 Display sample of WOFF file inside Net Panel.

Yet another huge step forward for webfonts and webdesigners! Major kudos for making this happen!
4 Jun 2011 (updated 4 Jun 2011 at 15:24 UTC) »
ScriptSource - a collaborative service and community for the world's writing systems - is now publicly released

After years of development and an extended cycle of review by a selection of community experts, ScriptSource is now released: the version codenamed Gutenberg is now available at ScriptSource.org.

The About page says:
"ScriptSource is a dynamic, collaborative reference to the writing systems of the world, with detailed information on scripts, characters, languages - and the remaining needs for supporting them in the computing realm. It currently contains only a skeleton of information, and so depends on your participation in order to grow and assist others."

A major goal of ScriptSource is to enable the development of software that supports minority writing systems, including fonts, keyboards, sorting routines and typographic rendering systems. Every writing system should have at least one full-featured, unencumbered reference implementation, which can then more easily lead to multiple implementations including commercially-focused ones.

This service is a major trailblazing effort to organise and link together all the foundational linguistic data and corresponding software from various experienced organisations and to curate it as a collaborative dynamic open resource. See the details about the practical aspects in the FAQ.

Having personally been involved in various meetings and discussions over the years (with several mentions of the soon-to-be-released work at various FLOSS conferences) and having significantly helped Victor Gaultney (Project Leader, Designer and ScriptSource General Editor) to research, define and write up the various ScriptSource policies, I'm very happy to see all this work now published publicly. I'm sure this web service and its growing community will be a unique resource for many experts doing writings systems implementation around the world which will in turn practically improve the lives of millions of people through language-based development efforts.

Obviously, I'm also very happy about the clear commitment of the ScriptSource service to openness and appropriate copyright and licensing: we have a pragmatic and visionary set of policies based on the values of open access with reasonable and balanced involvement of both for-profit and not-for-profit entities in a collaborative community. And we're promoting it to all contributors in a flexible way. The many challenges of writing systems implementation can be more easily tackled in a collaborative community building upon each other's work without the obstacles of exclusivity deals.

So please go ahead: explore, contribute your expertise and send your ideas and suggestions. Your feedback big or small is most welcome. The hosting system, the workflows and usage scenarios forming the overall service will improve incrementally according to the needs of the community.

You may have already heard about or made use of the Ethnologue, like, for example, the Debian-Installer and OLPC localisation teams already have done for a while, but I think the unique technical features and the open and collaborative approach of ScriptSource will accelerate and simplify to a unprecedented level the work of the linguistic research community and of the makers of multilingual services and products.

4 Jun 2011 (updated 4 Jun 2011 at 15:26 UTC) »
LibreOffice 3.4 and major font improvements

The latest major release of Libreoffice, version 3.4, besides all the many improvements, speadups and fixes from this development cycle, provides various very nice font-related goodies:
  • a better font menu with previews for complex scripts and improved alignements of the entries
  • better font rendering via Cairo
  • integration of the improved and much faster Graphite2 smart font engine essential for many languages


A huge thank you to the Document Foundation and all developers involved for their very valuable work!

If you haven't already, you should consider how you can contribute.
4 Jun 2011 (updated 4 Jun 2011 at 10:11 UTC) »
BBC World Service looking into webfonts?

Even with the confusing use of "embedding" to describe webfonts and apparently no use of @font-face but only a restricted font for download for the Urdu BBC website, I find it promising to read that the BBC World Service acknowledges the need to go beyond the system fonts to deliver quality typography to visitors for content using complex scripts beyond the Latin boundary.

Some highlights from BBC World Service Language Websites: user experience and typography:

"Our strategy was to free ourselves from the constraints of system fonts by embedding a custom web font on our sites."

"We believe this is the first time this has been done on a major news site in English or one of these languages."

"We have also aimed to meet the varied cultural needs of each language by further customising the font for each site."

"Nine languages, four different scripts and two reading directions..."

"18 more language sites that require five other scripts to be worked on..."


It's very significant to see a major news outlet thinking along these lines and actually talking about it publicly. Hopefully real webfont usage is coming for increased control over distinct style and visual identity as well as a "just-works user experience" by delivering the chosen font directly to the user.
11 May 2011 (updated 11 May 2011 at 18:03 UTC) »
Highlights from the webfonts session at Google I/O 2011

Just a few highlights from the Google webfonts session at the Google IO 2011. Go ahead and watch the whole video for the full context:

  • " we needed a better way to use and select fonts. So the solution is webfonts. "

  • " Google loves webfonts, webfonts not only make the web more expressive, more semantic, more accessible, more translatable, but they also make it more searchable. We think webfonts is a win for everybody involved. "

  • " Recently in the last two years, browsers started supporting webfonts which means right now they are a great choice for production applications in websites. "

  • " there's licensing complexities involved, just because you own a font and can use it on your local machine doesn't mean you can use it on the web. And oftentimes, and probably more often than not, the license to use the font as a webfont is completely different. "

  • " we're looking to make webfonts ubiquitous "

  • " there's no licensing worries because all the fonts are open source... you never have to think about how you're constrained about using Google webfonts, we think this is really important "

  • " there is a really huge surge of demand from the Internet and we're really excited about this "

  • " 1.29 million unique domains "

  • " we started with 18 one year ago, we now have 175 font families in the Google font directory, we're aiming for a 1000 within 12 months "

  • " we worked with 45 designers from all over the world "

  • " as we add more fonts to our library, we're also very committed to keeping the open source license, we think this is incredibly important and the reason is that there's no telling what devices and platform will be announced in the future and we don't want you to have to worry about not being able to use these fonts "

  • " They're your fonts as much as they are Google's and we'd like you to know that and we'd like you to be creative with your use... "

  • " We can do that because they're open source, there is no paygate that we need to put in place so we can go completely foot to the floor to get these fonts as fast as possible, that includes our cache strategy "

  • " there's incredible increase in adoption, the more popular the Google webfont service becomes the faster it's going to be "

  • " with all the fonts we're adding every week now, that list is growing fast "

  • " it's very simple to bring Google webfonts directly inside the CS suite via TypeDNA: I just right click it and then click 'similar web fonts body' which then takes me into Google and it makes suggestions of similar Google webfonts "

  • " you could actually go a long way by supporting one math font, there is the STIX font which is an open source font that a bunch of organisations and publishers got together and designed "

  • " Both of the primary licenses that we use, Apache 2 and the SIL Open Font License, do allow for derivative works. You have to do attribution and there's some rules about what, you know, you name the fonts that you have to kind of respect the wishes of the font designer around the names of those derivative works, but you're free to mix them all together, you know, add your own characters, basically do anything you like "

  • " we love the fact that there's many different options in the space. We want to grow the pie, we want to make sure that the folks who are just casual bloggers have sufficient access to high quality fonts. We'll fill the market from below, make a solid foundation "

  • " Google webfonts do work in the Android browser. "

  • " We have been slowly building out the range of international character sets. A growing number of the fonts are also supporting Cyrillic and Greek and a few other Latin Extended ranges. We actually have a lot of Khmer fonts in the directory. For the more complex scripts we're working with the browser manufacturers, of course including Chrome, to really make the support of these scripts bulletproof. "

  • " It is definitely important for Google to make these fonts worldwide, all languages. "

30 Apr 2011 (updated 1 May 2011 at 18:25 UTC) »
Open fonts talk in Berlin

If you happen to be in the beautiful city of Berlin for LinuxTag in a few days, don't miss "OpenSource-Fonts – Bedeutung und Nutzen von freien Schrifttypen in Theorie und Praxis" by the authors of LinuxLibertine. (If you don't understand deu aka German: it's "Open fonts – meaning and usage of libre fonts in theory and practise").

Linux Libertine and Linux Biolinum are truly amazing open font projects with plenty of smart font features (including TeX integration). No doubt this represents a huge amount of work. Well-worth checking out and contributing to.

15 Apr 2011 (updated 15 Apr 2011 at 13:21 UTC) »
GNOME journal article on fonts

At the request of Sumana Harihareswara, editor of GNOME journal, (and with her help) I've written "Fonts in GNOME 3: Cantarell, Tweaking, and Trailblazing" for the special GNOME3 edition. It's an overview of the significant changes happening in GNOME3 building on the past few years of efforts along with some tips on tweaking fonts and a look at the upcoming challenges and opportunities. Hope you find it useful !

2 Apr 2011 (updated 2 Apr 2011 at 15:00 UTC) »
webos: open fonts or not?

Looks like webOS - the new promising OS for phones, tablets and more - has released a new SDK but the licensing of the fonts included remain unclear: the SDK EULA and the font metadata don't really indicate if HP has chosen to release the fonts commissioned for this platform under a libre font software license or not.

From what I can see in the Virtualbox image used in the 2.1 SDK, the core fonts from Ascender have their usual agreement "You may not use this font software on more than five personal computers unless you have obtained a license from Ascender to do so. Except as specifically permitted by the license, you may not copy this font software." but the external license it may refer to is missing. And more importantly, the very nice Prelude font family specifically commissioned for the platform from David Berlow from the Font Bureau has copyright and trademark statements but no license. No details on the dedicated open source subdomain either.

Webos maintainers have indicated what languages the Prelude font currently supports. They should consider clarifying the EULA they want to attach to these fonts. Allowing the fonts to be modified - and explicitely stating so - will help with language coverage and increase the value of the webos platform in a very competitive space...

22 Mar 2011 (updated 22 Mar 2011 at 11:54 UTC) »
Transparency in software delivery channels

It's a good thing to be able to have a device where you can choose to install applications outside of a tightly controlled single broker's delivery channel (and obviously be responsible for checking these apps are not malware). That's why I like Android's f-droid and how, unlike all the other fancy delivery channels, it doesn't conveniently hide the license chosen by the software author(s) under some euphemism but actually spells it out clearly (MIT, GPLv2, GPLv3+, Apache2, AGPL, etc) and provides a link to the source and the upstream project website.

Hopefully with the work going on in DEP5 and Appstream, there will be good alternatives to the "we-hold-full-control appstores".

9 Mar 2011 (updated 9 Mar 2011 at 13:52 UTC) »
Upstream open fonts projects

I've recently heard about a few upstream open fonts projects (released under the Open Font License) which stand out: Haripunchai, Amiri, Crimson Text, Heuristika, News Cycle, Xits, Merryweather, Pecita and various open fonts from OSP.

Check out the upstream sites for all the details and information about the original authors.

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