Before you go texting this to your BFF or looking for it on the radio dial, you should know that WOFF actually stands for Web Open Font Format, a new standard in web typography recently backed by the W3C and published on their Standards Track. “As a key Web font standard developed by W3C, WOFF 1.0 represents a universal solution for enabling advanced typography on the Web,” said Vladimir Levantovsky, W3C WebFonts Working Group Chair.

So what does it all mean? For web designers and developers like NetPass and their clients, this new standard lifts limit restrictions placed on the use of “web-safe” fonts only (currently just a little more than a dozen are labeled as “web-safe”) in websites, blogs and other online applications enabling increased design flexibility and client brand enhancement throughout an online product without compromising browser standards and compliance.

Under the “web-safe” restrictions, designer and developer options were limited when specifying certain fonts for an online product. So, if a client logo contained a specialty font, it almost always needed to be converted to a graphic in order for the major browsers to display it correctly. This can result in a couple of issues not the least of which is search optimization and marketing SEO/SEM conflicts.

Submitted by Microsoft, Mozilla and Opera, the WOFF uses an encoding tool to embed sfnt-based fonts (such as TTF, OpenType or Open Font Format) through zlib compression resulting in smaller TTF files sizes (as much as 40% smaller according to Wikipedia) and faster downloading to a browser at runtime. WOFF already has support from some modern browsers like Firefox 3.6 and soon-to-be-released IE9, and will soon be adopted by Safari , Google Chrome and Opera.

It is important to note that the new standard does not change font licensing and copyright rules. In fact, abuse of the new compliance through illegal font download and use is a major concern of the W3C, so you can be sure that policing efforts over such issues will most certainly increase. Additionally, there will be some developers who will take the increased font availability and make inappropriate font choices within websites and online applications, but discussion on that is better left for another post (check back often!).
With some of the potential pitfalls comes great celebration as the new WOFF standard will most certainly increase online design flexibility and add value to online products for years to come.

If you would like more information on web typesetting and this and other standards can more positively impact your website, online application, blog or other online product, call us toll-free today at 888.296.7277 or visit our site at http://www.netpass.com.

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