The core challenge of web design is the variety of environments that the users can have. The combination of browser and the operating system, plugins, resolution – they all make it impossible to design for a single base. The design has to be more inclusive than exclusive. Another such element is the font, which we want the user’s environment to have. Of course, we have the alternatives in the
font-family, but they are just that – the alternatives. We always include
sans-serif as the last font in the family, but have you seen how it is rendered on certain platforms if it comes to that!
It gets more difficult since every browser and OS combination seems to have its favorite fonts. Life would be easier if there were at least a certain set of fonts that were available on all platforms. I think open source fonts is one way to make some fonts available everywhere. Of course there are many free fonts, but open source enables others to further develop and redistribute it, which can help in making it available on multiple platforms.
Even Fonts can be Open Sourced
Yes! Fonts, like rest of the software, can be open sourced. There is even the SIL International’s Open Font License (OFL), a font-specific open source license. There are other efforts as well, like the Bitstream Vera family which has been open sourced in agreement with the GNOME foundation.
The Free UCS Outline Fonts project explains why we need free outline fonts. The project aims to provide a set of free high quality outline UCS fonts.
I am sure more reading would have led to more resources like these.
Fonts you can download
Stephen Hartke has built an excellent repository of free font resources, with an extensive list of available fonts. It also includes some fonts he is working on.
Ifyou are looking for more fonts and font developers, the Open Font Library is an excellent place.
The fonts that I think will serve well on the Web are:
The open source fonts movement has been gathering momentum. The number of contributors have increased, and have been able to reach a wider userbase because of packaging in open source operating systems. I feel that encouraging open source fonts can help web designers. It can ensure a set of fonts that will be available on all platforms. Web designers can continue to use the exclusive fonts, but there will be a set of fonts available to fall back on.
What do you think?