Should MediaWiki CSS prefer non-free fonts?

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Should MediaWiki CSS prefer non-free fonts?

Brad Jorsch (Anomie)
I came across Gerrit change 79948[1] today, which makes "VectorBeta"
use a pile of non-free fonts (with one free font thrown in at the end
as a sop). Is this really the direction we want to go, considering
that in many other areas we prefer to use free software whenever we
can?

Looking around a bit, I see this has been discussed in some "back
corners"[2][3] (no offense intended), but not on this list and I don't
see any place where free versus non-free was actually discussed rather
than being brought up and then seemingly ignored.

In case it helps, I did some searching through mediawiki/core and
WMF-deployed extensions for font-family directives containing non-free
fonts. The results are at
https://www.mediawiki.org/wiki/User:Anomie/font-family (use of
non-staff account intentional).


 [1]: https://gerrit.wikimedia.org/r/#/c/79948
 [2]: https://www.mediawiki.org/wiki/Talk:Wikimedia_Foundation_Design/Typography#Arial.3F_18136
 [3]: https://bugzilla.wikimedia.org/show_bug.cgi?id=44394

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Re: Should MediaWiki CSS prefer non-free fonts?

MZMcBride-2
Brad Jorsch (Anomie) wrote:
>I came across Gerrit change 79948 today, which makes "VectorBeta" use a
>pile of non-free fonts (with one free font thrown in at the end as a
>sop). Is this really the direction we want to go, considering that in
>many other areas we prefer to use free software whenever we can?

Thank you for raising this issue.

It's definitely standard practice to prefer free over non-free throughout
the Wikimedia world. While this is a technical mailing list, this is a
topic dealing with legal issues. There's an open question in my mind as to
what constitutes a "non-free font," particularly given that U.S. courts
seem to reject the idea that a font can be copyrighted. More info here:
<https://wikipedia.org/wiki/Intellectual_property_protection_of_typefaces>.

MZMcBride



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Re: Should MediaWiki CSS prefer non-free fonts?

Brad Jorsch (Anomie)
On Sat, Oct 26, 2013 at 12:52 PM, MZMcBride <[hidden email]> wrote:
> While this is a technical mailing list, this is a
> topic dealing with legal issues.

This doesn't have any legal issues as far as I know, since we're not
distributing any fonts in this context. It's just a matter of whether
we should tell the browser that it should use "Helvetica Neue" or
"Helvetica" or "Arial" if the user has them available, or if we should
prefer free fonts or just use the browser's default fonts.

Legal issues would arise in the context of webfonts, but that's not
the concern here.

> There's an open question in my mind as to
> what constitutes a "non-free font,"

In this context, I mean "non-free" in the context of libre rather than
gratis.[1]

There are a number of fonts that can be downloaded for free (gratis)
but are under terms along the lines of a CC -NC or -ND license, and
there are more that are distributed with various popular operating
systems so many people already have them for "free" in the loosest
sense. I'm not counting these as free here.

 [1]: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gratis_versus_libre


P.S. In my original message, I overlooked the fact that Nimbus Sans L
is available under the GPL at
http://svn.ghostscript.com/ghostscript/trunk/urw-fonts/. So there are
actually two free fonts included in Gerrit change 79948, one if which
is being preferred to Arial.

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Re: Should MediaWiki CSS prefer non-free fonts?

Siebrand Mazeland (WMF)
In reply to this post by Brad Jorsch (Anomie)
Thanks for making us aware of this, Brad. I've immediately removed an
unneeded use in Translate and removed that entry from the list.

One instance remains in the header "monospace hack, could probably be
changed to "monospace, monospace"". Can you please elaborate?

Cheers!


On Sat, Oct 26, 2013 at 6:43 PM, Brad Jorsch (Anomie) <[hidden email]
> wrote:

> I came across Gerrit change 79948[1] today, which makes "VectorBeta"
> use a pile of non-free fonts (with one free font thrown in at the end
> as a sop). Is this really the direction we want to go, considering
> that in many other areas we prefer to use free software whenever we
> can?
>
> Looking around a bit, I see this has been discussed in some "back
> corners"[2][3] (no offense intended), but not on this list and I don't
> see any place where free versus non-free was actually discussed rather
> than being brought up and then seemingly ignored.
>
> In case it helps, I did some searching through mediawiki/core and
> WMF-deployed extensions for font-family directives containing non-free
> fonts. The results are at
> https://www.mediawiki.org/wiki/User:Anomie/font-family (use of
> non-staff account intentional).
>
>
>  [1]: https://gerrit.wikimedia.org/r/#/c/79948
>  [2]:
> https://www.mediawiki.org/wiki/Talk:Wikimedia_Foundation_Design/Typography#Arial.3F_18136
>  [3]: https://bugzilla.wikimedia.org/show_bug.cgi?id=44394
>
> _______________________________________________
> Wikitech-l mailing list
> [hidden email]
> https://lists.wikimedia.org/mailman/listinfo/wikitech-l




--
Siebrand Mazeland
Product Manager Language Engineering
Wikimedia Foundation

M: +31 6 50 69 1239
Skype: siebrand

Support Free Knowledge: http://wikimediafoundation.org/wiki/Donate
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Re: Should MediaWiki CSS prefer non-free fonts?

Antoine Musso-3
Le 26/10/13 20:00, Siebrand Mazeland (WMF) a écrit :
> One instance remains in the header "monospace hack, could probably be
> changed to "monospace, monospace"". Can you please elaborate?

Have a look at docs/uidesign/monospace.html which exposes the monospace
issue.

If you add another font after monospace, the browsers would no more
consider it a monospace font and use the default font size for
serif/sans-serif font, thus the monospace text ends up having a size
consistent with the rest of the document.


  font-family: monospace, DOESNOTEXISTREALLY;

That does the trick.


I have created the HTML doc following up a discussion with Erwin Dokter
on bug 33496:
https://bugzilla.wikimedia.org/show_bug.cgi?id=33496


--
Antoine "hashar" Musso


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Re: Should MediaWiki CSS prefer non-free fonts?

MZMcBride-2
In reply to this post by Brad Jorsch (Anomie)
Brad Jorsch (Anomie) wrote:
>On Sat, Oct 26, 2013 at 12:52 PM, MZMcBride <[hidden email]> wrote:
>> There's an open question in my mind as to what constitutes a "non-free
>>font,"
>
>In this context, I mean "non-free" in the context of libre rather than
>gratis.[1]
>
>[1]: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gratis_versus_libre

Right. The "libre" part is what I consider a legal issue, though I think I
understand more clearly now that you're talking about technical policy
here.

>There are a number of fonts that can be downloaded for free (gratis)
>but are under terms along the lines of a CC -NC or -ND license, and
>there are more that are distributed with various popular operating
>systems so many people already have them for "free" in the loosest
>sense. I'm not counting these as free here.

Thank you for clarifying this point. It might be helpful to have a list of
gratis/libre fonts and a list of gratis/non-libre fonts, if such lists
don't exist already.

As far as I know, MediaWiki (core) has historically preferred to specify
nothing more than sans-serif. There now seems to be a trend away from this.

<https://www.wikimedia.org/wiki/Guiding_principles#Freedom_and_open_source>
 is a citation for my earlier claim that Wikimedia prefers free to
non-free. Nemo_bis pointed me toward this related discussion as well:
<http://lists.wikimedia.org/pipermail/design/2012-October/000191.html>.

MZMcBride



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Re: Should MediaWiki CSS prefer non-free fonts?

Brion Vibber-4
So I'll just make a few brief, general points:

* It might be nice for the design folks to weigh in here with their
thoughts on font selection.

* We traditionally didn't specify a lot of fonts at all, meaning you got
whatever default fonts were configured on your system: thus, non-free fonts
like Arial or Helvetica for the vast majority of visitors.

* Where we do specify non-free fonts among the font-family lists, remember
we don't ship those fonts -- they are used only if they are present and
another font doesn't outrank them.

* Where we do ship fonts (via UniversalLanguageSelector/WebFonts) they are
free fonts.

* Font selection can be completely overridden via CSS; if someone has the
interest one could create a Gadget that lets you totally customize your
font experience in a user-friendly way.


I'll also add this:

* It would be _awesome_ if we sponsored creation or maintenance of good
free base fonts for body and header text, and used those consistently. But
that's not a trivial endeavor; what effort has been spent on custom fonts
has been for reasons of language support.

-- brion




On Sat, Oct 26, 2013 at 1:18 PM, MZMcBride <[hidden email]> wrote:

> Brad Jorsch (Anomie) wrote:
> >On Sat, Oct 26, 2013 at 12:52 PM, MZMcBride <[hidden email]> wrote:
> >> There's an open question in my mind as to what constitutes a "non-free
> >>font,"
> >
> >In this context, I mean "non-free" in the context of libre rather than
> >gratis.[1]
> >
> >[1]: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gratis_versus_libre
>
> Right. The "libre" part is what I consider a legal issue, though I think I
> understand more clearly now that you're talking about technical policy
> here.
>
> >There are a number of fonts that can be downloaded for free (gratis)
> >but are under terms along the lines of a CC -NC or -ND license, and
> >there are more that are distributed with various popular operating
> >systems so many people already have them for "free" in the loosest
> >sense. I'm not counting these as free here.
>
> Thank you for clarifying this point. It might be helpful to have a list of
> gratis/libre fonts and a list of gratis/non-libre fonts, if such lists
> don't exist already.
>
> As far as I know, MediaWiki (core) has historically preferred to specify
> nothing more than sans-serif. There now seems to be a trend away from this.
>
> <https://www.wikimedia.org/wiki/Guiding_principles#Freedom_and_open_source
> >
>  is a citation for my earlier claim that Wikimedia prefers free to
> non-free. Nemo_bis pointed me toward this related discussion as well:
> <http://lists.wikimedia.org/pipermail/design/2012-October/000191.html>.
>
> MZMcBride
>
>
>
> _______________________________________________
> Wikitech-l mailing list
> [hidden email]
> https://lists.wikimedia.org/mailman/listinfo/wikitech-l
>
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Re: Should MediaWiki CSS prefer non-free fonts?

Erwin Dokter
In reply to this post by Brad Jorsch (Anomie)
On 26-10-2013 18:43, Brad Jorsch (Anomie) wrote:
> I came across Gerrit change 79948[1] today, which makes "VectorBeta"
> use a pile of non-free fonts (with one free font thrown in at the end
> as a sop). Is this really the direction we want to go, considering
> that in many other areas we prefer to use free software whenever we
> can?

This is completly a non-issue. CSS Font stacks merely *refer* to a font
already installed (and paid for) on a reader's computer. There are no
legal issues arising form this whatsoever.

When it comes to selecting fonts, it is natural in web design to first
refer to the most commonly installed fonts available. If you were to
specify only free fonts, they would have no effect on the 99% of our
reader's computers, because they don't have those font installed to
begin with. In short, preferring free fonts in a font stack is utterly
pointless.

This would be different if we were to *distribute* these fonts, i.e in
the form of webfonts. In that case we are indeed restriceted to free
fonts. And as far as I know, all the webfonts we use are free.

--
Erwin Dokter


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Re: Should MediaWiki CSS prefer non-free fonts?

Brad Jorsch (Anomie)
On Sat, Oct 26, 2013 at 7:57 PM, Erwin Dokter <[hidden email]> wrote:
> This is completly a non-issue. CSS Font stacks merely *refer* to a font
> already installed (and paid for) on a reader's computer. There are no legal
> issues arising form this whatsoever.

You missed the point. The issue is ideological, not legal.

> When it comes to selecting fonts, it is natural in web design to first refer
> to the most commonly installed fonts available. If you were to specify only
> free fonts, they would have no effect on the 99% of our reader's computers,
> because they don't have those font installed to begin with. In short,
> preferring free fonts in a font stack is utterly pointless.

Surely it's closer to 98%.[1] ;(

Actually, I've seen plenty of sites that specify fonts with lesser
expected penetration first, usually fonts distributed with Mac OSes
but not Windows.

The drawback to specifying the non-free font first is that those of us
who have both still get the non-free font.


 [1]: Non-Android Linux has a bit over 2%, according to
http://stats.wikimedia.org/wikimedia/squids/SquidReportOperatingSystems.htm

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Re: Should MediaWiki CSS prefer non-free fonts?

Ryan Kaldari-2
In reply to this post by Brad Jorsch (Anomie)
Since fonts are licensed by the user rather than the distributor of the
software, I don't really see a strong ideological argument for only
specifying free-license fonts. MediaWiki explicitly supports Internet
Explorer, for example, which isn't open source. We also have an iOS mobile
app. In some cases we simply have to live with the realities of what our
users are using (which unfortunately isn't always open source). That said,
my personal preference would be for us to keep our font neutrality and not
declare anything other than 'serif' and 'sans-serif', but I'm open to
listening to other people's arguments.

Ryan Kaldari


On Sat, Oct 26, 2013 at 9:43 AM, Brad Jorsch (Anomie) <[hidden email]
> wrote:

> I came across Gerrit change 79948[1] today, which makes "VectorBeta"
> use a pile of non-free fonts (with one free font thrown in at the end
> as a sop). Is this really the direction we want to go, considering
> that in many other areas we prefer to use free software whenever we
> can?
>
> Looking around a bit, I see this has been discussed in some "back
> corners"[2][3] (no offense intended), but not on this list and I don't
> see any place where free versus non-free was actually discussed rather
> than being brought up and then seemingly ignored.
>
> In case it helps, I did some searching through mediawiki/core and
> WMF-deployed extensions for font-family directives containing non-free
> fonts. The results are at
> https://www.mediawiki.org/wiki/User:Anomie/font-family (use of
> non-staff account intentional).
>
>
>  [1]: https://gerrit.wikimedia.org/r/#/c/79948
>  [2]:
> https://www.mediawiki.org/wiki/Talk:Wikimedia_Foundation_Design/Typography#Arial.3F_18136
>  [3]: https://bugzilla.wikimedia.org/show_bug.cgi?id=44394
>
> _______________________________________________
> Wikitech-l mailing list
> [hidden email]
> https://lists.wikimedia.org/mailman/listinfo/wikitech-l
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Re: Should MediaWiki CSS prefer non-free fonts?

Brandon Harris-4




On Oct 26, 2013, at 2:31 PM, Ryan Kaldari <[hidden email]> wrote:

>  That said,
> my personal preference would be for us to keep our font neutrality and not
> declare anything other than 'serif' and 'sans-serif', but I'm open to
> listening to other people's arguments.

        rgree++

        While I see the value in specifying font stacks that are arguably “prettier” I also don’t think it’s worth giving up our principles for it.


---
Brandon Harris, Senior Designer, Wikimedia Foundation

Support Free Knowledge: http://wikimediafoundation.org/wiki/Donate


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Re: Should MediaWiki CSS prefer non-free fonts?

John Mark Vandenberg
In reply to this post by MZMcBride-2
On Oct 27, 2013 4:19 AM, "MZMcBride" <[hidden email]> wrote:

>
> Brad Jorsch (Anomie) wrote:
> >On Sat, Oct 26, 2013 at 12:52 PM, MZMcBride <[hidden email]> wrote:
> >> There's an open question in my mind as to what constitutes a "non-free
> >>font,"
> >
> >In this context, I mean "non-free" in the context of libre rather than
> >gratis.[1]
> >
> >[1]: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gratis_versus_libre
>
> Right. The "libre" part is what I consider a legal issue, though I think I
> understand more clearly now that you're talking about technical policy
> here.
>
> >There are a number of fonts that can be downloaded for free (gratis)
> >but are under terms along the lines of a CC -NC or -ND license, and
> >there are more that are distributed with various popular operating
> >systems so many people already have them for "free" in the loosest
> >sense. I'm not counting these as free here.
>
> Thank you for clarifying this point. It might be helpful to have a list of
> gratis/libre fonts and a list of gratis/non-libre fonts, if such lists
> don't exist already.

I started building a list a while ago, for similar reasons, limited to
fonts being used on the projects.

https://meta.wikimedia.org/wiki/Fonts

--
John
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Re: Should MediaWiki CSS prefer non-free fonts?

Erwin Dokter
In reply to this post by Brandon Harris-4
On 27-10-2013 02:19, Brandon Harris wrote:
>
> rgree++
>
> While I see the value in specifying font stacks that are arguably “prettier”
 > I also don’t think it’s worth giving up our principles for it.

<sarcasm> If that principle means that we try to avoid anything
non-free, then we should simply block access to Wikipedia for all
Windows and Mac users. Death to all non-FOS software! </sarcasm>

No, but really. The majority of our readers and editors are 'stuck' with
propriatery, non-free operating systems and their fonts. I cannot see
any benefit in applying the 'free' priciple here. It would severely
restrict our freedom in design. Typography in web design is important
enough not to restrict itself in some idealogical principle.

The last thing I want to see is a message box stating "To see this site
as intended, DOWNLOAD THIS FREE FONT FIRST". Even though I already have
a truckload of free fonts installed, I prefer to use the system's fonts
simply because they render way better then some free fonts. The
FreeSans/FreeSerif/FreeMono fonts render particularly bad on Windows.

And since we're sharing links... I also have a (non-finished) essay on
typography where you can see the most prevalant system and open fonts
together at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/WP:TYPO.

Met vriendelijke groet,
--
Erwin Dokter


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Re: Should MediaWiki CSS prefer non-free fonts?

Erwin Dokter
On 27-10-2013 11:14, Erwin Dokter wrote:
> And since we're sharing links... I also have a (non-finished) essay on
> typography where you can see the most prevalant system and open fonts
> together at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/WP:TYPO.

Argh... that should have been http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/WP:TYPE.

Met vriendelijke groet,
--
Erwin Dokter


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Re: Should MediaWiki CSS prefer non-free fonts?

David Gerard-2
In reply to this post by Erwin Dokter
On 27 October 2013 10:14, Erwin Dokter <[hidden email]> wrote:

> The last thing I want to see is a message box stating "To see this site as
> intended, DOWNLOAD THIS FREE FONT FIRST". Even though I already have a
> truckload of free fonts installed, I prefer to use the system's fonts simply
> because they render way better then some free fonts. The
> FreeSans/FreeSerif/FreeMono fonts render particularly bad on Windows.


That's not being asked for here. Please don't be hyperbolic, it
doesn't contribute.

The problem with listing the nonfree fonts first is that you'll end up
designing *for* the nonfree fonts, and come up with stuff that just
happens to look like garbage without them.


- d.

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Re: Should MediaWiki CSS prefer non-free fonts?

Erwin Dokter
On 27-10-2013 11:19, David Gerard wrote:
>
> The problem with listing the nonfree fonts first is that you'll end up
> designing *for* the nonfree fonts, and come up with stuff that just
> happens to look like garbage without them.

I strive for maximum coverage using both regular *and* free fonts to
maximize coverage. That usually means using the system fonts first (but
not always). It is really just a matter of maximizing use of what's out
there.

Met vriendelijke groet,
--
Erwin Dokter


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Re: Should MediaWiki CSS prefer non-free fonts?

Chad
In reply to this post by Erwin Dokter
On Sun, Oct 27, 2013 at 3:14 AM, Erwin Dokter <[hidden email]> wrote:

> No, but really. The majority of our readers and editors are 'stuck' with
> propriatery, non-free operating systems and their fonts. I cannot see any
> benefit in applying the 'free' priciple here. It would severely restrict
> our freedom in design. Typography in web design is important enough not to
> restrict itself in some idealogical principle.
>
>
Yeah I'm going to have to disagree. Our ideologies are far more important
than typography.

I agree with Kaldari and Brandon earlier: serif, sans-serif, monospace.

-Chad
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Re: Should MediaWiki CSS prefer non-free fonts?

Steven Walling
In reply to this post by Brad Jorsch (Anomie)
On Sat, Oct 26, 2013 at 9:43 AM, Brad Jorsch (Anomie) <[hidden email]
> wrote:

> I came across Gerrit change 79948[1] today, which makes "VectorBeta"
> use a pile of non-free fonts (with one free font thrown in at the end
> as a sop). Is this really the direction we want to go, considering
> that in many other areas we prefer to use free software whenever we
> can?
>
> Looking around a bit, I see this has been discussed in some "back
> corners"[2][3] (no offense intended), but not on this list and I don't
> see any place where free versus non-free was actually discussed rather
> than being brought up and then seemingly ignored.
>
> In case it helps, I did some searching through mediawiki/core and
> WMF-deployed extensions for font-family directives containing non-free
> fonts. The results are at
> https://www.mediawiki.org/wiki/User:Anomie/font-family (use of
> non-staff account intentional).
>

You're leaving out two key facts here:

   1. The 'VectorBeta' change is to create an _opt-in_ beta for typography
   changes, as part of the release of BetaFeatures extension. We'd only be
   providing something to users who want to try this font stack. It's a choice
   they get to make, and in that sense I think it's a little wrong for us to
   dictate anything based solely on ideology.
   2. This beta font stack for desktop is based primarily on our mobile
   font stack, which is already the default seen by all mobile readers and
   editors on Wikimedia projects. People keep saying "traditionally" we have
   not specified a real font stack, but the truth is we abandoned that
   tradition going back to October 2012:
   https://blog.wikimedia.org/2012/10/24/wikipedia-mobile-gets-a-new-look/In
other words: this is only new for desktop. This would only be applying
   the mobile style font stack on desktop, for users who want to try it.

Other than that, I think Brion brings up some really good points to
consider. BTW, the bug related to your search in core etc. is
https://bugzilla.wikimedia.org/show_bug.cgi?id=46437

We have never and will never ship a proprietary font to users who do not
have one installed, and I think we should maybe make that an official
policy if it isn't already. However, specifying better font families for
users that already have them can and has improved the experience for
millions of readers. Wikimedia projects and MediaWiki seem like dinosaurs,
even within the FOSS community, by enforcing a standard of using whatever
random sans serif a user has, and nothing more.

Many FOSS communities have dealt with the trade off between great-looking
fonts and freedom by commissioning foundries to get their own free fonts.
See also: Ubuntu, Android, and more. I've talked to the design team about
this idea, including perhaps getting a foundry to donate a unique font
stack in exchange for the publicity they'd get. The trade-off is that it's
extremely time consuming and (if we don't get a donation) it's very
expensive. That doesn't mean it's not potentially worth it, but it's a big
undertaking for the design team. Not to mention the fact that we have very
little experience delivering webfonts to all users in a performant way.

Steven
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Re: Should MediaWiki CSS prefer non-free fonts?

David Gerard-2
On 27 October 2013 19:37, Steven Walling <[hidden email]> wrote:

> We have never and will never ship a proprietary font to users who do not
> have one installed, and I think we should maybe make that an official
> policy if it isn't already. However, specifying better font families for
> users that already have them can and has improved the experience for
> millions of readers. Wikimedia projects and MediaWiki seem like dinosaurs,
> even within the FOSS community, by enforcing a standard of using whatever
> random sans serif a user has, and nothing more.


OK ... and the tradeoff of the designer assuming the non-free font,
and it just happening to look like garbage with any free font?


- d.

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Re: Should MediaWiki CSS prefer non-free fonts?

Tyler Romeo
In reply to this post by Steven Walling
On Sun, Oct 27, 2013 at 3:37 PM, Steven Walling <[hidden email]>wrote:

>
>    1. The 'VectorBeta' change is to create an _opt-in_ beta for typography
>    changes, as part of the release of BetaFeatures extension. We'd only be
>    providing something to users who want to try this font stack. It's a
> choice
>    they get to make, and in that sense I think it's a little wrong for us
> to
>    dictate anything based solely on ideology.


If you need to install an extension to enable the typography, then why is
it even in core in the first place?

Also, I really hope there was no malicious intention behind this change.
Because the originally uploaded patch set (i.e., PS1, or the patch that
people initially get an email about) was completely different from the
patch that was merged. Changing the subject of patches so suddenly and
drastically is quick and dirty move to hide changes from people who
subscribe to the new patchset feed. Please don't do that again in the
future.

*-- *
*Tyler Romeo*
Stevens Institute of Technology, Class of 2016
Major in Computer Science
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