Webfonts

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Webfonts

Niklas Laxström
There have recently been questions whether WMF is able to serve
webfonts. Some people think that because of the issues that led to
disabling webfonts by default in Universal Language Selector (ULS),
WMF is not ready to consider webfonts for typography.

I don't think that way. ULS is not a good comparison point because of
the following.

1) Universal Language selector is trying to solve a much harder issue
than what webfonts are usually used for. It is trying to avoid tofu
(missing fonts) which brings a whole list of issues which are not
present or are much smaller otherwise:
* large fonts for complex scripts,
* detecting which fonts are missing,
* many fonts per page,
* the systems with greatest need of fonts often have bad renderers.

2) WMF has a lot of experience working with web fonts by now. We know
how to handle different formats, how to optimally compress fonts and
how to check the results in different systems and browsers. In some
areas we are even ahead of Google, like non-latin fonts.

Thus, I think that delivering a relative small fonts for simple
scripts like latin and cyrillic is something that is possible *if* we
are willing to accept that it will take some bandwidth and that page
load experience can be affected* if the font is not cached or present
locally.

  -Niklas

* The unwanted effects of using webfonts are getting smaller and
smaller with modern browsers.

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Re: Webfonts

MZMcBride-2
Niklas Laxström wrote:

>[...]
>
>Thus, I think that delivering a relative small fonts for simple
>scripts like latin and cyrillic is something that is possible *if* we
>are willing to accept that it will take some bandwidth and that page
>load experience can be affected* if the font is not cached or present
>locally.
>
>* The unwanted effects of using webfonts are getting smaller and
>smaller with modern browsers.

I think you're mostly right, though the exact terms of the trade-offs
aren't clear here (e.g., "some bandwidth"). We'll need more explicit
measurements in order to reach full agreement on what user benefit vs.
site performance trade-offs Wikimedia is willing to accept.

It's also necessary to hear from the Wikimedia operations team. In
addition to end-users weighing the importance of a feature against its
cost, the operations team must also make practical considerations. Some
Wikimedia wikis get some substantial traffic. ;-)

MZMcBride



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Re: Webfonts

Faidon Liambotis
On Thu, Mar 13, 2014 at 07:20:27PM -0400, MZMcBride wrote:
> I think you're mostly right, though the exact terms of the trade-offs
> aren't clear here (e.g., "some bandwidth"). We'll need more explicit
> measurements in order to reach full agreement on what user benefit vs.
> site performance trade-offs Wikimedia is willing to accept.
>
> It's also necessary to hear from the Wikimedia operations team. In
> addition to end-users weighing the importance of a feature against its
> cost, the operations team must also make practical considerations. Some
> Wikimedia wikis get some substantial traffic. ;-)

As you say, we need to have more data before we can promise anything,
"some bandwidth" isn't enough.

As a general comment though, delivering a small amount of files such as
webfonts is a trivial task and we can easily scale the infrastructure to
handle *a lot* of additional traffic. It costs, though, both in
bandwidth (a dollar amount per mbps) and in upgrades that might be
necessary in network ports or hardware upgrades (loadbalancers, routers,
servers).

I think at this point it's more useful to focus the discussion on the
usefulness of webfonts, especially in combination with the performance
impact that they have on clients (a problem that we can't throw money
at). If the outcome is that the feature enhances the overall user
experience, we'll handle the infrastructure part.

Regards,
Faidon

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Re: Webfonts

praveenp
In reply to this post by Niklas Laxström

On Thursday 13 March 2014 08:38 PM, Niklas Laxström wrote:

> There have recently been questions whether WMF is able to serve
> webfonts. Some people think that because of the issues that led to
> disabling webfonts by default in Universal Language Selector (ULS),
> WMF is not ready to consider webfonts for typography.
>
> I don't think that way. ULS is not a good comparison point because of
> the following.
>
> 1) Universal Language selector is trying to solve a much harder issue
> than what webfonts are usually used for. It is trying to avoid tofu
> (missing fonts) which brings a whole list of issues which are not
> present or are much smaller otherwise:
> * large fonts for complex scripts,
> * detecting which fonts are missing,
> * many fonts per page,
> * the systems with greatest need of fonts often have bad renderers.
>
> 2) WMF has a lot of experience working with web fonts by now. We know
> how to handle different formats, how to optimally compress fonts and
> how to check the results in different systems and browsers. In some
> areas we are even ahead of Google, like non-latin fonts.

I  wonder why people want to serve webfonts by default, eventhough most
Wikipedia users don't need it. Webfonts is a nice option, and it must be
an option so as if any user or language need it, they can choose it.
Overruling a user's / community's settings without asking their opinion
is against any freedom WMF represents.

There are various other 'real' issues which are affecting, contribution
and rendering of Wikimedia wikis in non-latin languages.

> Thus, I think that delivering a relative small fonts for simple
> scripts like latin and cyrillic is something that is possible *if* we
> are willing to accept that it will take some bandwidth and that page
> load experience can be affected* if the font is not cached or present
> locally.
>
>    -Niklas
>
> * The unwanted effects of using webfonts are getting smaller and
> smaller with modern browsers.

And requirement of webfonts is also getting smaller and smaller with
modern OSs. Even today's mobile OSs have better language support than
that of old desktop OSs.

Praveen
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Re: Webfonts

Gerard Meijssen-3
Hoi,
You do not understand what the existing implementation of Webfonts is
about. It is about "not serving tofu". You know, those pesky boxes that
represent a character. When tofu is served, no characters can be seen and
consequently no information can be read.

Please ask any community if this is what they want.
Thanks,
      GerardM


On 14 March 2014 14:36, praveenp <[hidden email]> wrote:

>
> On Thursday 13 March 2014 08:38 PM, Niklas Laxström wrote:
>
>> There have recently been questions whether WMF is able to serve
>> webfonts. Some people think that because of the issues that led to
>> disabling webfonts by default in Universal Language Selector (ULS),
>> WMF is not ready to consider webfonts for typography.
>>
>> I don't think that way. ULS is not a good comparison point because of
>> the following.
>>
>> 1) Universal Language selector is trying to solve a much harder issue
>> than what webfonts are usually used for. It is trying to avoid tofu
>> (missing fonts) which brings a whole list of issues which are not
>> present or are much smaller otherwise:
>> * large fonts for complex scripts,
>> * detecting which fonts are missing,
>> * many fonts per page,
>> * the systems with greatest need of fonts often have bad renderers.
>>
>> 2) WMF has a lot of experience working with web fonts by now. We know
>> how to handle different formats, how to optimally compress fonts and
>> how to check the results in different systems and browsers. In some
>> areas we are even ahead of Google, like non-latin fonts.
>>
>
> I  wonder why people want to serve webfonts by default, eventhough most
> Wikipedia users don't need it. Webfonts is a nice option, and it must be an
> option so as if any user or language need it, they can choose it.
> Overruling a user's / community's settings without asking their opinion is
> against any freedom WMF represents.
>
> There are various other 'real' issues which are affecting, contribution
> and rendering of Wikimedia wikis in non-latin languages.
>
>
>  Thus, I think that delivering a relative small fonts for simple
>> scripts like latin and cyrillic is something that is possible *if* we
>> are willing to accept that it will take some bandwidth and that page
>> load experience can be affected* if the font is not cached or present
>> locally.
>>
>>    -Niklas
>>
>> * The unwanted effects of using webfonts are getting smaller and
>> smaller with modern browsers.
>>
>
> And requirement of webfonts is also getting smaller and smaller with
> modern OSs. Even today's mobile OSs have better language support than that
> of old desktop OSs.
>
> Praveen
>
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>> https://lists.wikimedia.org/mailman/listinfo/wikitech-l
>>
>
>
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Re: Webfonts

Kartik Mistry
In reply to this post by praveenp
On Fri, Mar 14, 2014 at 7:06 PM, praveenp <[hidden email]> wrote:
> ..
> And requirement of webfonts is also getting smaller and smaller with modern
> OSs. Even today's mobile OSs have better language support than that of old
> desktop OSs.

For example: My Nexus 5 with modern OS, Android Kitkat has no font for
my native language by default.

--
Kartik Mistry/કાર્તિક મિસ્ત્રી | IRC: kart_
{kartikm, 0x1f1f}.wordpress.com

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Re: Webfonts

Denny Vrandečić-2
It's really in the tradeoffs, as others have mentioned.

It is obvious that we would love to get rid of tofu at all time. But what
is the effect on readership? As far as I know, a higher delivery speed of a
Website increases readership and the other way around. So if there was any
way to estimate what the trade-off would be -- i.e. how many readers gained
or lost for how much tofu avoided -- that would be great.

Bonus points if we could qualify both sides (e.g. readers who turn into
editors vs the other readers, tofu that prevents you from understanding the
article vs tofu in a language link you don't care anyway).

I don't think that actual bandwidth costs and loading time are interesting
per se for us, but only as secondary indicators.

That's speaking from a fantasy dream world where such metrics are easily
accessible :)


On Fri Mar 14 2014 at 8:08:12 AM, Kartik Mistry <[hidden email]>
wrote:

> On Fri, Mar 14, 2014 at 7:06 PM, praveenp <[hidden email]> wrote:
> > ..
> > And requirement of webfonts is also getting smaller and smaller with
> modern
> > OSs. Even today's mobile OSs have better language support than that of
> old
> > desktop OSs.
>
> For example: My Nexus 5 with modern OS, Android Kitkat has no font for
> my native language by default.
>
> --
> Kartik Mistry/કાર્તિક મિસ્ત્રી | IRC: kart_
> {kartikm, 0x1f1f}.wordpress.com
>
> _______________________________________________
> Wikitech-l mailing list
> [hidden email]
> https://lists.wikimedia.org/mailman/listinfo/wikitech-l
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Re: Webfonts

praveenp
In reply to this post by Kartik Mistry

On Friday 14 March 2014 07:54 PM, Gerard Meijssen wrote:
> Hoi,
> You do not understand what the existing implementation of Webfonts is
> about. It is about "not serving tofu". You know, those pesky boxes that
> represent a character. When tofu is served, no characters can be seen and
> consequently no information can be read.
>
> Please ask any community if this is what they want.
> Thanks,
>        GerardM

Why would every Malayalam Wikimedians suffer webfonts because some
language in some other continent has no proper support in OSs. We will
not read that language anyhow :-). IMHO, serving webfonts by default
only for that language after consulting that community, may be the solution.


On Friday 14 March 2014 08:37 PM, Kartik Mistry wrote:
> On Fri, Mar 14, 2014 at 7:06 PM, praveenp <[hidden email]> wrote:
>> ..
>> And requirement of webfonts is also getting smaller and smaller with modern
>> OSs. Even today's mobile OSs have better language support than that of old
>> desktop OSs.
> For example: My Nexus 5 with modern OS, Android Kitkat has no font for
> my native language by default.
Sorry to hear that. Even my humble Samsung Galaxy Trend (Android 4.1)
has  pretty good support for atleast Malayalam, Hindi and Tamil. If I
remember correctly there was two different fonts and an input method for
Malayalam available in the stock phone.

We had to wait untill service pack 2 for a decent Malayalam font while
Windows XP released.

Praveen

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Re: Webfonts

Niklas Laxström
In reply to this post by Niklas Laxström
I just want to clarify that I was highlighting the possibility of
considering webfonts for *typography*.

I expect everyone to know by now that tofu issue is not yet solved and
people are working on it.

  -Niklas

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Re: Webfonts

Ori Livneh
In reply to this post by Niklas Laxström
On Thu, Mar 13, 2014 at 8:08 AM, Niklas Laxström
<[hidden email]>wrote:

> There have recently been questions whether WMF is able to serve
> webfonts. Some people think that because of the issues that led to
> disabling webfonts by default in Universal Language Selector (ULS),
> WMF is not ready to consider webfonts for typography.
>
> I don't think that way


Me neither; I agree with much of what you are saying.

I'm not sure why Odder abandoned <https://gerrit.wikimedia.org/r/#/c/115153/>
(Odder, I'm sorry if my comments were hurtful for some reason -- and I want
to say that I appreciate the fact that you use your technical savvy to help
communities make their voices heard in technical forums.) What I was
actually going to propose is that the font required by Hebrew Wikisource be
loaded unconditionally, for all pages, by being referenced in Common.css.
It needs some scrutiny first, but in principle it strikes me as the right
way to go.

I also think we should consider biting the performance bullet and including
a font like Noto <https://code.google.com/p/noto/> on all wikis. Again, not
a decision to undertake lightly, but something we should definitely
consider. It won't solve the problem of individual wikis needing a font for
the content language that is suitable for inputing and editing content, but
it may be good enough to cover the cases of occasional content in
non-primary scripts on most wikis. I filed <
https://bugzilla.wikimedia.org/show_bug.cgi?id=59983> about that, though to
my regret I did so at the height of the ULS drama so my tone was probably
not very inviting to future conversation. But if you can stand to ignore it
and to think the issue through, please do comment.

And finally: I also absolutely agree with Niklas that there remains a large
problem that would not be addressed by either approach, and that a platform
like ULS, backed by sufficient data and some trial-and-error experience,
represents a good approach for solving that.

There is one other thing that I think we should be doing: we should strive
to offer the very best HOWTO on the internet for obtaining and installing
additional fonts for users, so that we empower to use the internet in their
language, not just on Wikimedia (and MediaWiki) wikis, but across the web.
If something like that already exists and I am simply an ignorant oaf
(which is quite possible) than I eat my hat by way of apology :)
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