Archive for the ‘Fonts’ Category

File Under: Fonts

Shape Type: The HTML5 Typography Game

Attention type nerds, did you know there are online games just for you? It’s true, Shape Type is a new HTML5 typography game where you have to drag curve-adjustment tools to perfect letterforms in various font faces. The closer you get to the actual letter the higher your score.

Shape Type is the brainchild of web developer Mark MacKay, who also created Kern Type (you guessed it, a competitive game of type kerning) and the nostalgia-inducing memela, a lite-brite inspired drawing app.

Shape Type uses the Raphaël JS library for its vector graphics. In order to play you’ll need to be using a modern browser, but so long as you’ve got the latest release, all the major browsers will work.

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File Under: CSS, Fonts, Visual Design

Good Web Typography Is Easy With Type-a-File

The web is awash with CSS frameworks. But, while frameworks can be great for prototyping and quick mockups, they’re often overkill for most projects. It’s also pretty rare to find a framework that meets all of your design needs.

If you’re just looking for a way to get some great typography on your site, but don’t need a grid or other tools that often come with a full-blown framework, check out Type-a-File. Type-a-File isn’t exactly a framework, it’s more specific — a set of typography styles that you can adapt into your CSS.

Type-a-File is the work of designer Russ Maschmeyer and currently offers eight different typographic style sheets, designed, in Type-a-File’s words, to “give your web typography a head start.”

The style sheets takes advantage of some of the new features in CSS 3 like column-count and border-radius, as well as services like TypeKit for fancy fonts. Fortunately, the vast majority of the rules aren’t based on the still-nascent CSS 3 spec, so nearly all the effects will work in older browsers as well.

In addition to basic rules for typographic elements — h1-6, p, lists, cite and so on — Type-a-File has a few classes you can apply to pull quotes, create “kickers” or “sidenotes” and change default headings.

Type-a-File is released under a Creative Commons Attribution license, so if you’d like to take one of the eight example style sheets and use it to build something of your own you’re feel to do so. You can even submit it back to Type-a-File for inclusion on the site.

Photo by the four elements/Flickr/CC

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File Under: Fonts, Visual Design

A Design Contest for Web Fonts

The Web Font Awards are coming soon. It’s a new competition recognizing the most beautiful applications of web fonts in site design and technological achievements in type on the web. There’s no entry deadline or submission guidelines yet, but the contest will involve an actual meatspace awards ceremony and real cash prizes.

From the Web Font Awards site:

The Web Font Awards – the first ceremony to celebrate the newfound typographic freedom empowering Web designers across the globe. The Web Font Awards will be a design competition for websites using Web fonts. Aimed at promoting Web font awareness and adoption, the competition will be open to eligible users of any Web font service or technology.

Sign up at the site to be notified of dates, deadlines, rules and requirements as soon as they are available. Though we’re guessing this site (possibly NSFW) already has the top prize in the bag.

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File Under: Events, Fonts, Web Standards

Web Heavies Send a Love Letter to Open Web Fonts

The nascent Web Open Font Format (WOFF) is getting a boost this week thanks to some new initiatives being kicked off by the W3C, the web’s governing body.

The W3C recently created a working group to build a WOFF into a web standard, and that group will be holding its first face-to-face meeting at the TypeCon 2010 conference taking place this week in Los Angeles.

Representatives from the major browser vendors, several font foundries and web services providers will be in attendance. Also, a dozen or so select individuals will be participating in a series of presentations and panel discussions about WOFF throughout the conference. All the design industry folks in attendance will get a peek at the future of high-quality typography on the web. There are scores of topics on the program, but this year, WOFF is getting top billing.

Things are looking up for web fonts in general. Monday, Typekit announced a partnership with Adobe to include the company’s fonts as part of its licensing service. Last month, Google launched a new tool (tied to its Font API) that makes it dead easy to include any of its open source fonts in website designs.

The Web Fonts working group was formed earlier this year at the W3C, and the group has already released the first working draft of the specification that will eventually lead to WOFF becoming a recommended web standard.

WOFF works just like OpenType and TrueType — you use the @font-face CSS property to drop the fonts in — but the font data is compressed, so the files download faster, and you can include more fonts in your designs without worrying as much about payload bloat.

The W3C adds this bit: “The WOFF format is not expected to replace other formats such as TrueType/OpenType/Open Font Format or SVG fonts, but provides an alternative solution for use cases where these formats may be less performant, or where licensing considerations make their use less acceptable.”

Support for WOFF is already strong — Google, Mozilla, Apple, Opera and Microsoft browsers either ship with or are building support, and the fast-moving foundries are releasing WOFF fonts — so why is the W3C’s involvement a big deal when the open source format is enjoying such success?

Standardization by the W3C is the best path to true interoperability. It will keep all the parties on the same page when it comes to things like accessibility, cross-browser compatibility, internationalization and search engine indexing. How much metadata to include and how it is handled are also big issues. Plus, fonts have taken an astonishingly long time to arrive on the web because of red tape around licensing, and a collaborative process for developing licensing infrastructures will go a long way toward convincing some of the more conservative type designers to make web-friendly versions of their creations.

The standard will take years to complete (the process is very slow — we’re guessing 2012 or so), and until then, we’ll see designers, developers and innovative service providers like Typekit and Google continue to feed the interest in fancy web fonts. Those not on the bleeding edge may be stuck in the boring world of “web safe” fonts for a while, but at least the future is bright.

TypeCon 2010 runs from August 17 through 20.

Photo by Leo Reynolds/Flickr/CC

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Typekit Teams Up With Adobe to Offer More Web Fonts

Typekit, the web service that helps designers use elaborate typefaces in their page designs, is celebrating its one year anniversary with a big announcement: the company has added 16 of Adobe’s popular font families to Typekit’s ever-growing stable of options.

With the addition of Adobe’s fonts to TypeKit’s already large library, designers now have access to popular workhorse fonts like Adobe Garamond, News Gothic, Myriad and Minion, as well as slightly funkier options like Rosewood or Trajan, the “movie font.” These typefaces are heavily used in the print publishing world.

The new Adobe fonts are the original cuts of the typefaces, not reproductions or downgraded web versions of the designs. This means it’s now possible to use them just like you would in print work with the same rendering accuracy and technical detail you’d see on paper. Monday’s development should have a positive impact on the use of fancier fonts on the websites of old-school institutions and larger corporations — companies that have been using Adobe products to build their print materials for years. Now that they have the same level of control over details like kerning pairs and line height on the web, they’ll have an easier time making the jump.

Adobe is a little late to the party — the company is one of the last major font foundries to partner with Typekit — but Typekit President and co-founder Bryan Mason tells Webmonkey that the reason for the delay is a heavy attention to detail.

“Adobe has been working on the hinting and screen rendering of these (and others to follow) for months,” says Mason, “[that] means a character-by-character, weight-by-weight review of each font family.”

Typekit is like a YouTube for fonts. The service lets web developers pick a font from its library, pay a licensing fee to the font creator (though some fonts are free), then use that font across their website. Unlike many fancy type solutions on the web, TypeKit isn’t using any sort of image replacement for rendering fonts, just the standard CSS @font-face declaration with a minimal amount of JavaScript to simplify the process and account for various browser versions. The service is one of the easiest ways for web designers to use creative fonts without sacrificing web standards or violating font licenses — most of the time, it’s just a matter of copying and pasting some code snippets. There are also options specifically designed for easy integration with popular publishing platforms like WordPress. The company also released an API last month, allowing third parties to integrate Typekit font selection into their apps.

If you’d like to try the new fonts on your site, head over to Typekit and log in to your account. The fonts are available for all paid Typekit accounts. If you’re using the limited, free option, you’ll have to settle for Adobe Garamond, the only family that Typekit is giving away.

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