fonts.com blog
Archive for September, 2010

by Allan Haley

Time travel does exist. This morning, Doug Shaw, the president of Monotype Imaging, Chris Roberts, Monotype Imaging’s vice president of marketing, and I traveled back to the turn of the last century.

OK, we didn’t actually go back in time – but we did travel to Firefly Press, a letterpress type shop that still sets type with Monotype and Linotype metal typesetting equipment. The machinery, which dates back to the early years of the twentieth century, is loud, labor intensive to operate and mind-numbingly complicated.

If you are not familiar with these machines, they produce metal type (a combination of lead, tin and antimony) from small molds, or matrices, that are used in letterpress printing. The Linotype machine lines the molds up and then casts a complete line of type as a single piece – hence the name “Line-o-type.” The Monotype machine produces one piece of type at a time – it is a “mono type” casting machine. While there are pros and cons to each technology (the Linotype is faster but, if you make a mistake, the whole line must be reset), the end result of each is something quite wonderful. It is type that is used for letterpress printing – relief printing of text using a printing press and type, in which a reversed, raised surface is inked and then pressed into a sheet of paper to produce a positive right-reading image. This is essentially the form of printing text, from the time Johannes Gutenberg came up with the idea in the mid-fifteenth century until the early twentieth century.

The result of letterpress printing is a rich, tactile page with a slight indentation where the raised type makes its impression on the paper. You can feel this if you run your finger over the page. There was a time when all printing was done in this manner. Today, small letterpress shops, like the Firefly Press, tend to print very special documents like wedding invitations, diplomas, important announcements and, every once in a while, a very special book.

Yes, it’s more expensive than typical offset printing that is common today but, if you have an extraordinary occasion to announce, or want to make a lasting impression, there is nothing quite like letterpress.

If you would like to learn more about letterpress printing in general, or the Firefly Press specifically, view the video below. If you would like to contact the Firefly press, you can reach them through their Web site (http://www.fireflyletterpress.com).

Allan Haley
Allan Haley is Director of Words & Letters at Monotype Imaging. Here he is responsible for strategic planning and creative implementation of just about everything related to typeface designs.



by Steve Lee

Many Web designers have been asking how we support iPhone® and iPad® devices using our Fonts.com Web Fonts service. These devices are known for superior display quality, and as our testing and usage have shown, there’s no exception when it comes to Web fonts. The iPhone 4, for example, with its 960-by-640-pixel resolution at 326 ppi (higher than early laser printers), renders text that is simply stunning. Web fonts really shine when zooming to see content up close, thanks to their amazing sharpness and clarity.

Our approach to Mobile Safari® support can be summed up in two words: simplicity and control.

“Simplicity” is often difficult to achieve, but we’re committed to giving Web designers an elegant solution that’s also very easy to use. Second (and maybe more important), we believe it’s essential to provide designers with control over how they assign their fonts. Specifically, we think designers should have the freedom to assign CSS selectors according to their own associations for bold, italic, light, condensed, heavy, ultra and other styles.

Why is this so important? The Helvetica® typeface family, for example, contains more than 50 fonts (weights) in our Web font solution. It certainly made sense to us to leave the CSS selector assignments up to the designer. Yet, believe it or not, we reached that conclusion after much debate. We understood that by predefining CSS declarations behind the scenes, we could offer convenience to users because the work would already be done. However, we also knew we’d be making subjective decisions, so total flexibility won in the end. Control belongs in the hands of designers.

We also have a hunch that by keeping our solution simple, and by enabling designers to assign their own CSS selectors, we’ve been able to retain consistent, browser stability using Mobile Safari. I guess one could argue that as being the most important aspect of all.


by Chris Roberts

Earlier this week we announced the commercial availability of Fonts.com Web Fonts. Thanks to over 15,000 beta testers, the wealth of feedback collected over the past several months was channeled into the product development process to create a truly user-focused offering. Bolstered by a vastly expanded font selection and raft of new user requested features, we believe Fonts.com Web Fonts combines the best selection, best language support and the best workflow solution to represent the obvious choice for anyone interested in deploying Web fonts. Here are several examples of how you, the user, helped to create the service that we introduced.

More of the “right” fonts
Apparently, when it comes to fonts, there is no such thing as “enough”. “More fonts” was a very common request from our beta users. In response, we have increased our selection from 2,200 to over 7,500 fonts. But quantity is meaningless without quality. We heard loud and clear that your design projects call for “the right fonts.” Professional designers know that fonts like Helvetica®, Frutiger®, Univers®, Trade Gothic®, Eurostile®, ITC Avant Garde Gothic®, Rotis®, and Optima® are typographic non-negotiables when it comes to supporting corporate identity, branding and advertising. These are just a few of the core essentials included among the 7,500 high quality Web fonts that make up this unrivaled collection.  We also heard that Web fonts need to look their best across various browsers and operating systems. All of our Web fonts have been reviewed by Monotype Imaging’s world-class font engineering and quality assurance teams. Using a combination of proprietary font optimization tools and hinting strategies, we worked to achieve the best possible results at every point size and across every operating system and browser combination. Many of our Web fonts have been designed specifically with screen display in mind. Monotype Imaging is committed to innovating new ways to maximize on-screen rendering quality. As quality improvements are made, Web font data will be updated automatically, meaning your websites will always look and perform state-of-the-art. But this is just the beginning. Going forward, every new typeface release from Monotype®, Linotype® and ITC® will also be introduced as a Web font. Additionally, we are working with many of our foundry partners on Fonts.com to bring their collections to Fonts.com Web Fonts. As our selection grows, so will your creative freedom.

Language Support
Our beta testers told us they need to support a global audience. Why would anyone limit themselves to a service that can only reach half of it? We’ve added fonts and technology to enable support for every major language, including patent-pending technology to overcome the challenges of serving East Asian fonts. The majority of our Web fonts include a full Basic Latin-1 character set. These fonts cover popular Western European languages such as Danish, Dutch, English, Finnish, French, German, Irish, Italian, Norwegian, Portuguese, Spanish and Swedish. We also provide a wide selection of fonts that cover a Latin extended 1 character set supporting Croatian, Czech, Estonian, Hungarian, Latvian, Lithuanian, Polish, Romanian, Serbian, Slovak, Slovenian and Turkish. We also offer a variety of world language fonts to cover non-Latin scripts such as Cyrillic, Greek, Simplified and Traditional Chinese, Japanese, Korean, Thai, Arabic, Hebrew, Armenian and Devanagari. It’s a big world. Think global.

Workflow support (don’t make me pay twice!)
This one was a doozey. Users told us that they needed installable versions of their fonts to support their workflow. They explained that their design process did not begin in the browser, but in applications like Adobe Photoshop® and Illustrator®. They make mock-ups and send them to their customers and co-workers as part of the design process. They told us that Web fonts are great, but don’t replace the need for desktop installed fonts in the workflow. Actually, Web fonts increase the need to have fonts installed locally. It’s now more important than ever for Web designers to be able to convince others of the value of using non-system fonts in their Web designs. Bottom line: they need to be able to download the fonts and use them in their desktop applications. Oh…and they don’t want to buy them twice. As you might imagine, we had some animated internal debate over this one. In the end, and as should always be the case, the customer’s need drove the decision. We decided that we would provide a Professional level subscription that would allow users to download fonts for workflow support. Professional plan subscribers receive 50 desktop downloads every 30 days. Desktop downloads include a one workstation license. To be downloaded, an eligible font must be included in a project. Fonts can be used to support the workflow as long as the user maintains their Professional subscription.

iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch support
Our customers love gadgets. We do too. Our homes have been infiltrated by iPhones®, iPods® and iPads®. Our beta users insisted that we support Mobile Safari. Easier said than done. You may have heard or read that these devices have a unique approach to Web font support. Common font formats are not supported, so some significant cycles went into getting this one right. We learned that some folks out there had tried to support Web fonts on these devices with mixed results. We took great care to study this situation so that we would avoid the problems others were experiencing. The result is robust iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch support. No crashing browsers here, just beautifully rendered Web fonts in the palm of your hand.

Non-JavaScript publishing
Another consistent request was for support of a non-JavaScript publishing method. JavaScript is a great standards based way to deploy functionality to a website. JavaScript is supported by all major browsers, but there are circumstances under which it’s just not the right approach. If this is your situation, you will be glad to learn that we provide our Standard and Professional tier subscribers with the option of JavaScript or Non-JavaScript publishing methods. Even if JavaScript is fine for you today, it’s nice to know you have the choice to use either.

Private font support
This was another tricky one. There are many companies out there who have custom typefaces that support their brand identity. Naturally, they need to be able to deploy these fonts in their Web font projects, without releasing them into the general population. Our solution… you provide the fonts with proof of a proper license, we upload them into your account so that only you can use them. It’s kind of like bringing your own wine to a restaurant. You bring, we pour. BYOF.

Improve the portal user interface and usability
We hear ya. We received some very candid feedback on the portal user interface and usability. We also did some usability lab testing on this one. While we were able to take care of several of the more glaring issues, there are remaining things that need to be done. We’ve got a big list of improvements lined up.

Pricing
Pricing was probably the most commonly expressed concern. It seemed like everyone was anxious about it (including us). Generally, the feedback seemed to be, “we get it that this is a premium offering, but please make sure it’s affordable.” There was also a very specific concern expressed about making sure beta users had plenty of time to upgrade to a commercial plan before the colophon badge would display on their sites. In addition to the feedback we received from beta users, we conducted focus group testing during which we asked users for their thoughts about pricing. We found that users expected that it would cost something (Phew!), and that a usage-based subscription fee model made sense. What also seemed consistent was that users did not want to be saddled with a long term commitment, wanted the ability to try it out first, didn’t want any tricky limitations, and as mentioned above, did not want to have to pay for the fonts twice (once for Web font use and again for desktop use). To address these needs, we took several actions. We decided to offer a feature rich Free plan that would include all of the same 2,200+ fonts that were available during beta and a generous allowance of 25,000 page views per month. To address the colophon badge requirement concern, we decided to waive it until 2011, giving our beta users over 3 months to decide if they wish to upgrade or stay with the free plan. We also decided that all tiers should be free of arbitrary limitations on domains per account and fonts per site. As a result every account type (even free accounts) can have unlimited domains per account and unlimited fonts per site. To make this even easier to take advantage of, we also decided to provide SSL and subdomain wildcard support for every account type. So that users don’t end up paying for capacity they don’t need, we offer 10 different page view allowance plans, and monthly rather than annual commitments. If your traffic goes up next month, you can upgrade to a higher plan, if it goes down you can downgrade to a lower plan. No long-term commitments. The price points we arrived at were informed by the focus group feedback we received. Some users suggested higher prices, and some suggested lower. We arrived somewhere in the middle with an offering that provides access to over 7,500 premium Web fonts for as little as $10 per month. For those who want access to premium Web fonts but don’t want to pay anything at all, we have a free plan that offers 2,200 web fonts for free…zip…zilch..zero. As a reminder, the colophon badge requirement for the free account has been waived until 2011…so don’t wait.

There’s so much more in the pipeline that I would love to write about, but it will have to wait for another day. Besides, we should be using this time to beautify the Web!


by Steve Lee

After a little more than four months of beta, we are officially launching Fonts.com Web Fonts. Our mission is to make fonts available to all websites and applications. We believe the way to do that is to continuously provide our customers with additional value, quality and convenience. We kept this objective in mind as we began incorporating the feedback we received during our beta. This has resulted in some new features and options that we think will be of interest to you. Here’s a quick rundown of what’s new.
Desktop downloads – installable fonts for Professional subscribers:
Professional subscribers can download installable fonts for creating website mockups. Download up to 50 fonts every 30 days.
More fonts
We’ve expanded our selection of Web fonts to more than 7,500. The original 2,200+ fonts available during beta are still available for use to all subscribers, including users of our free plan.
Broader language support
More than 50 percent of Internet users don’t speak English. Corporations need to communicate globally. With over 600 non-Latin fonts, we offer support for more than 40 languages.
Dynamic subsetting
East Asian languages require a large number of characters. A font supporting the Simplified Chinese writing system can contain more than 28,000 characters and have a file size in excess of 10 MB. To reduce the download time, our patent-pending technology serves a font containing only the characters needed to render the page.
Non-JavaScript publishing method
This publishing method uses a CSS file link and reduces potential conflicts with other JavaScript code that could be running on a Web page.
Private fonts
If you already own or have licensed fonts for Web use, we can upload the fonts and serve them to your site visitors. Please contact us for more details on this service.
Wildcard subdomain support
You can enter “*.” before your root domain to cover any subdomains you may use. This feature is great for sites that have many subdomains or those that dynamically generate subdomains.
SSL support
SSL support is free for all subscribers including our free plan users. To use Fonts.com Web Fonts with Transport Layer Security, simply change “http” to “https” in your Fonts.com Web Fonts code snippet.
iPhone, iPad and iPod support
We’re happy to unveil support for iPhone®, iPad® and iPod® Touch mobile digital devices that’s stable and looks great, too.
This is just the beginning of our journey. As we build upon our solution, we want to make it easier to use and even more accessible. While our current service is already addressing the demands of Web designers and content creators, we’re looking ahead at how to best serve user interface designers, application developers and others. We hope you’re as excited as we are to be on the edge of this emerging and empowering technology.

by Allan Haley

My first job in the typographic arts was working for a guy named Bob Trogman. He owned a typesetting service in the late 1960s – yes, that was long ago.

I was working as a graphic designer in firm that manufactured airplane instrument panels while I attended art school. A specification from one of the firms’ clients was that their panels use the “Gorton™ Normal” typeface for all text and numbers. I’d never heard of the typeface, and began calling printing houses and typesetting studios inquiring after the design.

No one had heard of the typeface, let alone had fonts to set the copy I needed. (Back in the day, graphic designers didn’t set their own type.)

The name “Bob Trogman” kept coming up in my search. People would say, “I’ve never heard of Gorton Normal but, if anyone knows about it, Bob Trogman does.” After a few of these responses, I changed my search to find Mr. Trogman. (I was a slow learner.) I eventually found him and, yes, he knew all about Gorton Normal – and said that he would be happy to set the type I needed.

About two weeks later, I quit my job as an airplane instrument panel designer and went to work for Trogman as an apprentice typographer – even though his shop was over 40 miles away through L.A. traffic.

Bob and I parted ways many years ago, but I would always fondly remember my first type job when his name came up in a conversation.

The reason for this post is that, out of the blue, Bob just sent me a couple of short “type movies” he had made. They’re both fun and informative and I though I’d share them with you. If you want to know more about Bob Trogman, a visit to his Web site is worth the trip.

The Gorton Normal typeface? It was owned and developed by the Gorton Machine Company, a firm that made engraving machines – that were sometimes used in the manufacture of airplane instrument panels.

Dingbats (MOV)

Making Type Speak (MOV)

Type Is Magical (MOV)

Note from blog administrator: These downloadable movies are in MOV format and should play on Macintosh® computers without any additional software, however other users may require additional software such as QuickTime® or VLC media player. We provide these links as a courtesy and not as any form of endorsement. Depending on your chosen operating system there may be other media players that provide the necessary MOV support.

Allan Haley
Allan Haley is Director of Words & Letters at Monotype Imaging. Here he is responsible for strategic planning and creative implementation of just about everything related to typeface designs.



by Allan Haley

A typeface designer doesn’t necessarily need to start out as one – to become one. A number of exceptional type designers had other plans before embarking on careers in the typographic arts. Communication Arts magazine just published an article I wrote about five young typeface designers who began their careers in other areas.

In addition to learning a little about how five designers began their careers, the article also shows some of their most recent typefaces. All are very cool designs.

If you do not have a subscription or want to purchase the issue (CA is a pretty pricey – but well worth it – magazine), you can read the article online at the following link.

http://www.commarts.com/columns/five-young-typeface-designers-their.html

Allan Haley
Allan Haley is Director of Words & Letters at Monotype Imaging. Here he is responsible for strategic planning and creative implementation of just about everything related to typeface designs.