Thursday, January 12, 2012

Fonts 'R' Them

It's been a little while since I've made a Google rant.  Admittedly, it's been a little while (like, most of 2011) since I Rambled about much of anything - but the main reason I haven't bitched about how lousy Google's free tools are is that their tools have actually gotten really good.  I mean, like I'd pay money for them good.  I'm glad I don't have to, mind you, but so long as they've essentially taken over every bit of web that isn't dominated by Facebook, Apple or Groupon, at least they finally have the good manners of not making all their crap essentially the web equivalent of protein paste.

The specific case in point is their new service, Google Web Fonts, which is one of those bright spots that makes me think that life after Flash won't be so bad, after all.  One of the main things I liked about Flash   was that you could use and embed any font you wanted - which, as a designer, is really 70% of the job.  There have been attempts by small companies in recent years to try to create a (for profit) HTML/CSS web method for any font you want, but as is the case with the web, things don't really catch on until someone finds a way to make it free.

Google did just that, and not only is it free, the implementation is almost perversely easy.  One line of code in the head of the page, and one line in the CSS page, and THAT'S IT.  And as you may note from a quick glance, they already have a really solid library and it's still growing.  Of course, the case could be made that this is Google once again making artists give up their work for free, but in this case, the damage  to the typographer's market was made long before Google got there - after all, when's the last time you ever paid for a font?

All that aside, I'm loving it.  Of course, given Google's general practice of either trying to monetize everything they do or just plain pulling the plug if they feel it isn't hot enough, I expect to suddenly have every site I design with GWF to first start redirecting people to Starbucks coupons, and then suddenly default to Comic Sans.


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