This is my personal blog. The views expressed on these pages are mine alone and not those of my employer.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

The Two Central Questions Confronting EOT Web Fonts

There's a big debate happening about EOT vs. TTF fonts for the web. I see there being two central questions:
  1. If EOT was the right approach, why haven't we seen any deployment by users, developers, or font vendors, even though it's been available for 10 years across 80% of the installed base of the Internet? It's been a failure, for users, developers, and the font foundries themselves who have made no money even with the pseudo-DRM scheme that EOT currently has. It's time to try something new, and TTF is that new way.
  2. Why should fonts be treated differently than any other resource on the web? We currently don't have access controls for JavaScript files, HTML, images, text, MP3 files, etc., leaving that to legal mechanisms and technical systems out of band. One out of band solution to this is to use the HTTP Access Control spec; a font foundry could require you to use HTTP Access Control plus your TTF file through a legal contract. I already go through having to follow legal contracts when I use commercial stock photography, for example, or a Creative Commons image in a presentation or web site.
Chris Wilson is right that neither EOT or TTF are standards of any kind; they are both defacto standards, with the CSS Web Font mechanism being the real standard that all browsers now support. However, until the EOT camp can come up with answers to the two questions above (EOT has had 10 years -- why no adoption? and Why should web fonts be treated differently?) the debate about TTF versus EOT is over, with TTF having the clear verdict on the direction to move forward.

Killing the Golden Goose

Alex Russell: "The [mobile phone] OpCo's fear anything they don't own. They'd rather kill the golden goose than have an open market in golden eggs from which they'd be the
main benefactors. They're deathly afraid of becoming "dumb bit pipes"
(although that's exactly what they are). As a result, they're driven
to distraction by any hint of openness that isn't strictly in their
favor, leading them to become *stupid* bit pipes. They've made
generation after generation of walled-garden play with no discernible
positive outcome other than to continue to lock up users thanks to lax
regulation (in the US).

Competition is changing the dynamic slightly. The device vendors
loathe the OpCo's (and vice versa). They're only in this shotgun
marriage due to the oligopolistic economics of how devices are sold
and who sells them (at least in the US). But a little bit of
competition by folks with different motivations (Apple, Google, etc.)
is changing things in favor of the handset vendors."

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