Retail Web Fonts, For Real, At

Feb 9, 2010

In the post An Open Letter To Retail Font Vendors I outlined what steps need­ed to be taken to market fonts to web designers in a way that made sense for web designers. Frankly, I thought it would be a very long time before I would see anything like what I was proposing. I was wrong.
Somebody out there was listening.

A few days ago I got an email from Ethan Dunham, creator of Font Squirrel.
It said simply:

Wondering if you’ve seen the new website.
I could say I made it just for you?  Font Spring

Spring Came Early This Year

Before Fontspring, there was nothing but talk from retail font designers about participating in @font-face font linking. “Soon, soon, soon”, was the mantra. Today it’s a reality, a fact, and there’s no going back.

Now, I’ve got a lot of criticisms of Fontspring. I don’t find the format of the in-browser specimen pages useful enough. I need to see tracking and kerning at every pixel size. Your font got warts? I need to see ’em. It’s the only way quality will improve. And I find the licensing stuff still a bit muddled. And more. But let’s save all that for another day, eh?

The Challenges Ahead

Fontspring can’t represent everybody in the world of font design. The question now is: what are the other font design houses going to do? Will they continue to do nothing but jabber about “support” for the WOFF format while Fontspring eats their lunch and Font Squirrel busts their nuts? Will this prod a font obfuscation/​hosting service like Typekit to also become a vendor and begin offering “host it yourself” licenses? We’ll see.
In the meantime, congrats and kudos to Ethan and all the font designers represented on Fontspring. My hat is off.

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