[thelist] embedded fonts

Sam-I-Am sam at sam-i-am.com
Mon Mar 12 12:11:59 CST 2001

I wrestled for a couple of months with embedded fonts and can give you
some advice from the front (this dates from ~1999.. some things may have
changed. The legacy browsers obviously haven't)

Netscape (4.*) uses a licensed technology from Bitstream for embedding
fonts called TrueDoc. This is entirely unrelated to Internet Explorers
solution, which uses Microsoft's Opentype. 
Netscape uses a LINK tag to associate the font with the document, 
IE can use an @import declaration.
In both cases thereafter you can use the font as if it was installed by
adding the font name to FONT face/font-family attributes.
So you can work around this incompatability by adding the LINK tag to
each page. To stop IE trying to download this font add the DISABLED
attribute (IE understands, Netscape 4.* ignores), and in your CSS use
the @import line to pull in the IE compatible font (that Netscape also

There's a tool called WebFontMaker (I believe from Bitstream) (not free
at the time) that will make the .pfr (Portable Font Representation)
files for Netscape. Weft makes the .eot embeddable fonts for IE.

Last I checked TrueDoc was buggy, and antialiases *all* type. (as
against a white background.. so you get a glow on any other color. The
compression is good though, and  a typical download might be ~10-15k

Opentype performs "compression" by allowing you to select a subset of
the entire font's character set. This means you have to analyse each
page that will use it to come up with a character list (Weft does this
for you) ..this is impractical for a site that changes with any
frequency. A typical download for one font (e.g Myriad regular ---
remember each font weight and style is a seperate font) might be ~20k
Font smoothing is handled by the OS, and may or may not be enabled. (its
a setting that was first added by win95 plus pack, and was not turned on
by default in most win98 installations I tested. ) So you get the

The visual differences ultimately scuppered my implementation, and we
had to redesign at the 11th hour. For gods sake test test test. And make
sure you have sign off on *exactly* what browser/OS support you client
is expecting should you go down this path.

Don't know the status of this in the more recent browsers. Does NN6 have
any dynamic/embbed font support? How about IE5.5, IE5 (mac).. ?


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