Responsive Web Typography v2

Variable Font Evolution

Responsive Web Typography v2

Check out a free preview of the full Responsive Web Typography v2 course

The "Variable Font Evolution" Lesson is part of the full, Responsive Web Typography v2 course featured in this preview video. Here's what you'd learn in this lesson:

Jason introduces the W3C Font 3 & 4 specifications and instructs on how to be involved in the extensive Github discussion on how the web should work.


Transcript from the "Variable Font Evolution" Lesson

>> Jason Pamental: In the PDF of these slides, those links are active. This is really important. How many people here were aware that the W3C has all of their support issues, and discussion on Github? How many people are Github users? Right, so that means all of you can go participate here.

So if you have questions, that's where the speck is being discussed. That's where new features are being fleshed out and worked on. There's used cases, there's tests, there's places for you to say, hey, this is working in a weird way in this browser. What am I seeing here?

Am I seeing something that's a gap in the spec, or am I seeing something that's a gap in implementation. There are people from every browser team there, there're people from every type company there. People from the W3C, it's really active. There's great discussion going on. And this is the point in time where we actually get to shape how the web works.

So I was fortunate enough, three weeks after variable fonts were announced, a guy on the Apple web kit team sent me a link to a nightly build. I was showing off variable fonts in a browser the next day. So I mean this stuff, it got started quickly, and it's really been evolving heavily, I've had plenty of opportunities to actually sit in on W3C meetings.

Talk to the browser vendors, talk to the type designers. This is a very active time, and you have every bit as much a say in this, as I do. I'm simply just try things out, go here, read up on what's going on, see if there's anything that is interesting to you, there are lots of new developments in how CSS is being implemented.

There's also now a discussion of how do we handle partial downloads. So there is this idea of, it's sort of like font streaming. Sort of like progressive download or sort of rehydration, in that, if you dynamically subset one page, and you deliver only the characters needed to render that page, and then, go to another page, then, it's gonna send a little bit more to you, and then, a little bit more.

So you don't actually have to download the whole font at once. Now, that's actually behind the scenes. It's already being done in some browser, with some font services, primarily, with CGK, or like Japanese, or Korean, or Chinese language fonts, because those character sets are so big. Those fonts might be several megabytes, so they have to do something like that.

But there are those same companies are now getting together to work with the W3C on a way that we could do this for any webpage, and if you start to think about those implications of variable fonts, dynamic sub-setting, and then, progressively downloading more and more of it. There's zero reason why we wouldn't be using these fonts, and every reason why we would.

Because we have our voice, and our brand, and our experience, that gets tied up with the content itself. And those things can then always travel together, without fear of negatively impacting the experience.

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