Opera coaxes coders to embrace Web fonts

Opera is building WOFF, the Web Open Font Format, into Opera 11.10, and is trying to encourage programmers to use it.

Opera shows a tasteful example of what can be done with WOFF.
Opera shows a tasteful example of what can be done with WOFF. Don't get too excited, though: the orange is just a photo. Opera

Opera Software, a browser maker with considerable sway among Web developers, is trying to get them to embrace WOFF, the Web Open Font Format that looks like the best chance so far that refined typography will come to the Web.

WOFF originated at Mozilla after a collaboration with type designers, with Microsoft and Opera sponsoring its standardization at the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C), so it's no surprise that Opera is on board with the project. Opera 11.10, still in testing, adds support for WOFF.

Firefox, Microsoft's Internet Explorer 9, and Google's Chrome already support WOFF, and type companies ranging from Adobe Systems to Monotype Imaging are offering subscription services for their fonts.

WOFF is not the first attempt at Web fonts, which can be downloaded along with graphics and other elements on a Web page. Indeed, Opera 10 already could render downloaded TrueType, OpenType, and SVG (Scalable Vector Graphics) fonts.

WOFF is a small but important departure, though, when it comes to packaging TrueType and OpenType fonts. It includes some data-compression support that reduces download times, and it adds a mechanism for including metadata such as the font's creator or licensing terms.

About the author

Stephen Shankland has been a reporter at CNET since 1998 and covers browsers, Web development, digital photography and new technology. In the past he has been CNET's beat reporter for Google, Yahoo, Linux, open-source software, servers and supercomputers. He has a soft spot in his heart for standards groups and I/O interfaces.


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