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The resurrection of downloadable Web fonts
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You are currently in Programming, Web and Software Design/Development
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Sat Oct 13, 2007 2:24 pm Reply and quote this post
Despite it being in the CSS 2 specification from 1998, downloadable fonts specified with the @font-faceat-rule never caught on. The main reason was that Microsoft andNetscape chose to support different font formats, neither of which wasin wide use. I remember reading about it at the time and quicklyabandoning it due to the problems with cross-browser support. As didmost others, it seems.
However, that may be about to change. As reported in Downloadable Fonts, recent nightly builds of Apple WebKit (not the normal nightly build but a feature branch) support @font-facerules with TrueType fonts. The browser will download the font file youspecify and use the typeface it contains just like any other.
A thorough description of the @font-face feature, with plenty of examples, is available in Håkon Wium Lie’s article CSS @ Ten: The Next Big Thing, published at A List Apart in August this year.
When I first read the article I thought “Nice. But I want to see itin a browser before I get too excited.” Well, since WebKit now supports@font-face I decided to play around with it a little and it seems to work rather well.
The CSS that loads a custom font looks like this:

@font-face {
src:url(MyCustomFont.ttf) format("truetype");

You can then use the name you specify in the font-family property in other CSS rules, like this:

h1 {

The syntax is described in Font Descriptions and @font-face in the CSS 2 specification.
There’s both good and bad to downloadable fonts of course. As withall features that can be misused, this will undoubtedly be misused.There will be designers who are too excited about being able to usejust about any font to remember that text is useless if nobody can readit.
On the other hand, good designers will be able to use this to renderheadings in beautiful and highly legible typefaces without causing anyaccessibility problems. And once all mainstream browsers supportdownloadable fonts we will no longer need to use hacks and workaroundslike bitmap based image replacement or sIFR.

Contributed by Editorial Team, Executive Management Team
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