Irish Punch!Tuesday, March 8th, 2011
I know jack about fonts. Or typography. I don’t know what makes serif better than sans-serif in a given situation, or vice-versa. When I see a site making good use of fonts, I appreciate it on an instinctual level (and then fumble in an attempt to duplicate the same grandeur in a later project of my own), but I don’t know the why of how I feel.
In short, fonts aren’t too different from music for me. I know what I like, but I’ve got no theory as to why. (My description of why I like songs tends to be “It sounds crunchy” or “The way their voice changes in the chorus is sweet”.)
That doesn’t stop me from appreciating the impact good fonts have on my job as a web developer, however. When the talented designers at Mindfly produce a beautiful design for a site using sweet web fonts, I know I like them and then make the best use of the tools I have to reproduce the beauty in HTML and CSS on the Internet tubes.
The two guests in today’s comic are tool-builders and technique-inventors that help me greatly in what I do. And for that I thank them. Font Squirrel (aka Ethan Dunham) has a beautiful site that holds 100% free for commercial use fonts, as well as a lovely font-face kit generator which helps reduce my struggles with getting a font onto all browsers to little more than an exercise in copying and pasting. If you’ve never been to Font Squirrel, check it out. He’s my favorite non-me squirrel-themed web-designer-type person on the Internet. I use his site almost every day in my job, and it saves me (and as a result, my clients) a good deal of time and money as a result.
Paul Irish is, in my eyes, a man that’s slowly morphing into an Internet Folk Hero. His efforts in fighting the vicious, horrendous FOUT (flash of unstyled text) that afflicts websites using web fonts are legendary. If that heroic battle wasn’t enough, he’s also one of the people behind both the HTML5 Boilerplate (which taught me so much just by reading its code and comments) and Modernizr (which is now being included in every project I do with its lovely browser feature support detection and HTML5 shim for IE browsers). I discovered last week I wasn’t following Paul’s twitter feed and blog updates, and have since corrected this. Now I carefully trail after him, picking up whatever morsels of cleverness drop on the ground behind him and devouring them like the cruel crows eating the breadcrumb trail of Hansel and Gretel.
The only thing I love more than good tools are good tool-makers. If any of you haven’t seen their offerings, I politely suggest you go take a gander. Good on you, Ethan and Paul. Thank you very much.