Auto-retrieving Unicode fonts from centralized server in absence of @font-face or built-in support

From: Brett Zamir (
Date: Mon Jan 18 2010 - 22:19:23 CST

  • Next message: Mark Davis ☕: "Re: unicode string representation in PL"

    Hello all,

    As some of you may be aware, @font-face has gained some added ground of
    late with more browsers supporting this Unicode-friendly CSS rule
    (allowing one to specify a font on one's website which supports the
    characters needed by the page, as the browser might not have built-in
    font support for more obscure characters).

    I think, though, that rather than relying on /developers/ to include
    this /styling/ information to ensure Unicode characters can be read, a
    more robust (though complementary) approach might be to house a central
    repository of basic (open-source or otherwise licensed) fonts which can
    be used by browsers to automatically download the fonts not already
    supported in the browser, in order to ensure no Unicode character used
    on a web page will ever be unreadable (at least if viewed with online
    access), ensuring it can be presented in at least some form recognizable
    to users of the script (rather than showing the less-than-user-friendly
    code point number).

    There would thus be no need for using @font-face just to be able to let
    one's users view characters, though website creators could still use
    @font-face to indicate a font with a specific style or set of glyph
    forms for uncommon characters, in which case the central repository
    would not be accessed by the browser. Such a central repository could
    also solve the issue of uncertainty faced by developers as to whether
    all browsers contain support for a given character or not.

    In the case of Mozilla/Firefox I've made a feature request at (feel free to voice
    your support there by registering and voting on the request) to allow
    automatic downloading of basic open source fonts from a secure
    centralized Mozilla server whenever unknown characters are encountered,
    but maybe other browsers could collaborate to make this happen together
    or for their own browsers.

    best wishes,

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