Comic Update: Typekit Comes To Font-Face’s RescueMonday, August 17th, 2009
What I don’t know about typography is quite immense. I entered the web design/development world from the viewpoint of a coder, not a designer. So when it comes to the wild world of fonts, my lack of knowledge is so large that I could be commanded to construct a mighty ark to contain it all.
So when it comes to @font-face, and all the licensing hoopla that accompanies it, it’s best to disclose that I’m the sort of person that is extremely dangerous to introduce to a limitless set of fonts to unleash upon the world. I am inclined to make use of a font because it “looks radical”, rather than because of some sort of carefully constructed reasoning that sounds like how people taste wine, with words like “bold” and “stately”.
Despite this, I still want to see @font-face become widely used. I’m not a fan of a web where only eight or so fonts get to play in the pool. If we want our sites to continue to mature, we need all the tools the print guys get to use.
Of course, the print guys have less problems when it comes to ensuring security. Hence the whole problem with @font-face, it makes fonts easier to steal. Jeffrey Zeldman just today put up a post on Web fonts and standards, talking about where we are and where we’re going with font support. It sums it all up much more intelligently than I could ever manage.
One of the current (well, near future) solutions is a new batch of “middlemen”, as he terms it. Web services that secure fonts enough to make foundries feel safe, but provide web authors with the @font-face access we love and crave. Typekit and Fontdeck are two of these on-the-horizon matchmakers. I’ll admit, I’m intrigued by their service. Elliot Jay Stocks talks about Typekit in The Font-as-Service over at i love typography, which sums up the pros and cons that Typekit represents as a font solution. I found it a very good read, and I think if you’re interested in what these services will offer that you should go read it as a primer of sorts.
Today’s comic settles firmly on one point he mentioned that worries me the most: price. I’m the sort of person that, for better or worse, prefers concrete purchase to subscriptions. Although I find Netflix to be a neat way to rent, I’d really rather own Big Trouble in Little China outright, rather than leasing it for all time. In the world of websites, I worry about being dependent on a middleman for all time to keep my site looking pretty. Although I don’t know what the rates that Typekit and its peers will charge, I can only imagine that over a period of years, it’ll add up to the point where I’d rather just have owned the fonts outright. What if someone came back to CSSquirrel ten years later, and a number of rich fonts I’d used via Typekit were no longer present, replaced once again by mundane Arial or such? Will it represent the vision I had?
For that matter, with client sites, will studios be able to convince their clients to pay a monthly fee after their site is built, just to keep the font? I’m not running screaming from the concept of font-as-service. I’m just concerned about how renting will impact the bottom line.