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Typekit, Drupal, and Web Typography

02 Oct 2009

After reading Morten.dk’s article on Typekit and looking a little further into Typekit, I got pretty excited. I put my email in for an invite, and either by some act of randomness or someone seeing my tweet, I got accepted today.

Typekit Drupal Module

Yes, I jumped on the Typekit Drupal module right away. It’s real simple. It basically fills that need for site builders who don’t want to edit their themes. It also allows you set the visibility of it, much like the block system (borrowed code directly). It’s not going to win any awards, but it makes things a tad bit easier.

Semi-Revolutionary?

Just as a qualifier, I am not a designer and don’t care that much about fonts and know little about the school of Typography. But! Typography has always been this chained up monster in the basement. I mean, back when the Internet started, all web pages were just text. And it’s still true, most of what we put up on these crazy Internets is words. So, why has it been so difficult to get some nice looking words on our web pages, even after so many years?! Why do we have to keep Aladdin down in the basement, or just use his photo?

This is not anything I have a complete answer for, but one of the main reasons is licensing for fonts. There are a lot of fonts out there, but many of them have some sort of copyright or limiting license on them that keeps them from being fully embedded in websites. There may be some direct correlation with how the two main commercial operating systems have their own sets of licensed fonts, so browsers just got stuck in the middle. Either way, owner of fonts just don’t want their fonts flailing in the cyber-wind, which is what some people see embedding fonts into websites might be.

This is where I think Typekit begins to bridge this gap of having no fun fonts on the web and having all fonts free and open-source (or some other solution). Typekit, like Cufon (which is awesome and has its own benefits), allows for easy embedding of fonts via Javascript and selectors, but the problem that Typekit solves is that it has already put together a number of fonts that are available for you to use by already adddressing the licensing issues with the fonts. These fonts are not “free”, mind you, and Typekit’s payment schemes have a little to be desired in my opinion. But you can have anywhere from what looks like 50 - 200 fonts that are provided from many different sources (I am assuming they will be adding more too). Typekit also has this fairly unobtrusive note in the corner of your site that links to information about the specifics fonts you are using (example), which is really awesome and fair for free use of cool fonts.

Typekit is not a good solution to our problem, but it is a good place to be for interim until we can actually address the real problems with licensing of fonts and typography on the web.

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