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For the web designers in the crowd
Among the slew of major announcements Google is making this week (most of which I'm just linking in Twitter), here's one that is very simple, practical, and About Damned Time: Google has licensed a small pile of Web Fonts, and is hosting them free for anyone on the Web to use them.

Here's the Ars Technica article talking about the project; Google's Getting Started page, which describes how to use the fonts on your page (which turns out to be really easy); and the Font Directory itself. Personally, I'm especially enamored of the IM Fell font, which is just the sort of rough-typography font that I'm always fond of for SCA use -- readable, but with a sort of hand-printed feel.

Important caveat: I think this is all using the emerging standard for web fonts, which means that it requires a modern browser -- and I believe that specifically excludes all versions of IE to date. My impression is that this stuff will work in IE 9, but that's not going to be released for a while yet. So it's questionable whether you can use it for commercial stuff yet, but it sounds entirely plausible for personal pages...

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From their FAQ:

What browsers are supported?

The Google Font API is compatible with the following browsers:

  • Google Chrome: version 4.249.4+
  • Mozilla Firefox: version: 3.5+
  • Apple Safari: version 3.1+
  • Microsoft Internet Explorer: version 6+

The Google Font API is not currently supported on iPhone, iPad, iPod, or Android.

Clearly, they're serving up different font files for different browsers. IE6 has only EOT; Firefox 3.5 has only TrueType. They might not serve WOFF for anybody—as I understand it, its only advantage over TrueType is that it can encode licensing restrictions, and these fonts don't have any.

Re: Browser support

Neat! I confess, since it had been described in the same breath as WOFF discussions over at Ars, I had simply assumed that it was WOFF-specific. But if they're doing it in a way that works for IE6, that means designers can probably go ahead and just start using these fonts willy-nilly. (With fallbacks for the mobile platforms, but it's still a big step forward...)

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Re: Browser support

Yaas. If this all works as billed, it looks quite slick...

Interestingly, I went to go look at the fonts.

The page tells me my browser isn't "modern enough" and to get the latest Firefox.

Which is exactly what I have installed (3.6.x).


Do you maybe have JavaScript blocked, via NoScript or RequestPolicy? They use a JavaScript library to decide how to serve the fonts.

That's odd -- it's working fine for me in Firefox. There must be something else going on here, but I have no clue why it's choking on your browser...

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