On Typekit and type as a service

I’ve been sitting on this post for a while because I couldn’t quite get my thoughts on this web fonts as a service topic straight. Then, a couple of days ago, I got into a big conversation about web fonts with friends, and having to put my thoughts into words make things a lot more clear.

Like a lot of folks, I got to try out Typekit firsthand in the last week or so and I really wanted to love it, but something wasn’t right. There are tons of posts out there discussing the pros and cons of all the type as a service options, so I won’t get into that. It’s definitely changing the way we think about fonts on the web. But, I keep wondering – is type as a service something I will really use?

With all the posts and articles I’ve been reading hyping up the idea, I want to say “yes!”. But honestly, I don’t think I will, at least not as they are right now.

There’s nothing wrong with the functionality of Typekit. It’s more the idea of type as a service — a service with a recurring fee — that deters me.

On the work side, I can’t think of a scenario in which I could convince the boss or a client to pay a recurring fee to use certain fonts. The boss will ask what’s wrong with the fonts we already own? and, haven’t we been doing just fine without this so far? I could see a client possibly saying yes if it was their corporate font that could be used. But what are the chances it’s available on any of the services? Slim at best right now.

When it comes to personal projects I’d have no one but myself to convince, but I’m still not sure I’d use them. I have a collection of fonts that I’ve bought over the years because I like them. Those are the ones I want to use on my personal projects. If one of those is available from one of the recurring fee based services that would be great. But wouldn’t that be a bit like renting something I already own?

I’m also a bit stubborn and the idea of having a 3rd party involved to use these fonts that I’ve paid for in some way makes me hesitate. It would be awesome someone came up with some kind of server side software we could install on our own servers– kind of like how wordpress works– if we wanted to. Even with all the assurances of server uptime this still bothers me a little.

Enough complaining! this is the web after all…

Type as a service for web fonts is still young and there are still a lot of details to be worked out. Everything that’s making me hesitate tonight could be cleared up tomorrow for all I know. That’s the great thing about working on the web. I expect the whole landscape of fonts on the web to have changed by even a year from now.

ETA (9/7/09): I just recently saw this Typotheque screencast. The concept of paying a one-time fee for a web license definitely sounds promising. Seriously, the options are changing everyday. Gotta love that!

Type as a service isn’t our only option

With all the talk about the various services in the works, the fact that it is possible to use @font-face without any third party help sometimes seems to get lost.

With the variety of free and open-source fonts popping up, we can all still take advantage of that without testing the waters of type as a service if we want. Just make sure to read the EULA of any font you’re thinking of using. It’s true that some free fonts are free for a reason, but there are some good ones out there too.

This web fonts test page has a listing of a few free fonts that allow @font-face embedding if you’re wondering what might be available. Font Squirrel, also has a listing of free fronts and you can filter by EULAs that allow @font-face as well.

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