ifacethoughts

Open Source Fonts

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.

Ed Trager has built an excellent and in-depth font guide to Unicode based fonts.

Elle Lupton has a free font manifesto, and an associated blog, though it has not been updated recently.

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.

If you are on a system with a Unix shell available, DownloadFonts.sh is a convenient way to download some quality open source fonts. Also check out Wazu Japan’s gallery of unicode fonts.

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?

Discussion [Participate or Link]

  1. Rick Hull said:

    > 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.

    The biggest issue is MS Windows, which no web dev can ignore. To ensure a set of fonts for all platforms, you need to encourage MS to include these in its default distribution. Random Windows users aren’t going to download these themselves.

  2. Abhijit Nadgouda said:

    Rick, I completely agree with you. That is why, as is with rest of the open source, it has to be a two-pronged approach – education + easy availability. Easy as single click install, easy as the easiest install of a third party piece of software.

  3. links for 2007-10-02 | The Marketing Technology Blog said:

    [...] Open Source Fonts | iface thoughts 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 agr (tags: design free fonts opensource) [...]

  4. Laxman B said:

    What’s so wrong with Web Core fonts(Arial, Verdana, Georgia, etc)… everybody uses them anyway.

    If certain distros include them, there would be no need to separately install them…

  5. Abhijit Nadgouda said:

    Laxman, problem is the license. Microsoft no longer distributes the web core fonts. And the license associated with it puts restrictions on how we can redistribute it. Different platforms might require different platforms, which open source can enable.

  6. Andrei said:

    The greatest problem with all the above fonts except for the UCS FreeFont ones is the range of characters covered by them. Some of these fonts are beautifully designed, but have little beyond Extended Latin. MgOpen is an exception, but such that proves the rule…

  7. Enlaces para leer y ver 48 « el50 said:

    [...] Fuentes Tipográficas de Código Abierto / iface thoughts. Como bien comentan en el artículo, la vida sería más sencilla si por lo menos existiera un grupo de fuentes disponibles en todos los sistemas. Yo no tenía idea que existieran licencias de “código abierto” para fuentes como las hay en los programas. Mis 10 ilustradores favoritos… / evasèe. Excelente lista, no conocía a la mayoría, además incluyó a Audrey Kawasaki, y Audrey rules. [...]

  8. yo man said:

    yo dude.. u rokk..

  9. links for 2007-10-09 « toonz said:

    [...] Open Source Fonts | iface thoughts (tags: typography free font) [...]

  10. Observations From Experiment | iface thoughts said:

    [...] back to using the font-family. My doubts are still unclarified, which took me in the direction of open source fonts. I also think that downloadable fonts might solve this problem completely, but I wonder how soon [...]

  11. Entradas en las blogosferas.23 - Carrero Bitácora de los Hermanos Carrero, David Carrero Fernández-Baillo y Jaime Carrero Fernández-Baillo. said:

    [...] Fuentes Open Source. Etiquetas: blogs [...]

  12. Enlaces Varios: 17-10-07 said:

    [...] ifacethoughts publican un pequeño listado de fuentes totalmente [...]

  13. Wes Plybon said:

    “The biggest issue is MS Windows, which no web dev can ignore. To ensure a set of fonts for all platforms, you need to encourage MS to include these in its default distribution. Random Windows users aren’t going to download these themselves.”

    Actually, probably the better thing to do would be to push for support of the CSS @font-face property. Then the font would be linked to on a server rather than on the client machine. If the font is published under some kind of OSS license, like these are, then there should be no legal issue doing that.

  14. Aerial, Tymes, Veranda | iface thoughts said:

    [...] wish a set of open source fonts come pre-installed on all platforms. Of course Windows fonts can be dowloaded by anyone, but they [...]

  15. The Open Sourcerer said:

    Have you not seen the Liberation Fonts?

    https://www.redhat.com/promo/fonts/

  16. Type Today at Interaction Design Umeå said:

    [...] Open Source info+more links in this blog post. » Filed under Interaction Design by rc at 9:54. back to [...]

  17. /blog » Blog Archive » Font-face said:

    [...] http://ifacethoughts.net/2007/10/02/open-source-fonts/ [...]

  18. TGM said:

    “The biggest issue is MS Windows, which no web dev can ignore. To ensure a set of fonts for all platforms, you need to encourage MS to include these in its default distribution. Random Windows users aren’t going to download these themselves.”

    Let’s not forget MS want IE8 to be more compatible these days, why not include the fonts with Firefox? It has the market share to make a point. Also Google could include them in Chrome…

  19. Ben in Seattle said:

    There are some great free-as-in-freedom fonts at The League of Moveable Type. They’re in OTF format and are tiny downloads which makes them great for embedding in CSS stylesheets using @font.

  20. david said:

    The Stephen Hartke link is broke.

  21. Daniel Cottrell said:

    I agree about ensuring open sources are included as part of the distribution for desktop publishing, but when it comes to the web it will no longer be an issue in the near future. Any web designer / developer will be able to embed any fonts they want to the page using the CSS3 @font-face selector.

  22. Open Source Schriften | willinger.cc - Eine weitere WordPress-Seite said:

    [...] Überblick und Zusammenfassung zum Thema Open Source Schriften [...]

  23. domain said:

    I have read so many articles on the topic of the
    blogger lovers but this article is actually a good paragraph, keep it up.

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