And now, Google

Web Fonts Part 9: Google enters the fray.

THE long-planned inevitable has now been announced. With open-source-licensed web fonts, web font hosting, and add-a-line-to-your-header ease of configuration, Google has joined Typekit, Font Squirrel, Ascender, Font Bureau and others in forever changing the meaning of the phrase, “typography on the web.”

The Google Font Directory lets you browse all the fonts available via the Google Font API. All fonts in the directory are available for use on your website under an open source license and served by Google servers.

Oh, and Typekit? They’re in on it, and they couldn’t be more pleased.


25 thoughts on “And now, Google

  1. I’m very happy about this announcement. Web fonts are great, Google’s hosting of web fonts will be reliable (it already powers other services, I believe), and when a company like Google gets behind something, it means other companies will take it more seriously.

    It’s all good!

  2. Yay for this, but man, they really need to find a way to make them look less ragged on Windows machines. Or is this a Microsoft “feature” I’m missing out on?

    That and the dots on i and j appearing to the left of the letters in Nobile on OS X.

    Not quite ready for prime time, sadly, though it’d make a decent 7:30 show.

  3. awesome! I thought that was the case as well — I too am stoked about this. The tone of your tweets and this post of the announcements threw me off a bit..

  4. Wonder if Google will ever include SVG fonts for iPhone/iPad support? Or will that slip by because of Android?

  5. Oh my god, I love this.
    Thanks for breaking it, Jeffrey (to me, at least).

    A small step for designers, a giant leap for user experiences.

  6. Fantastic news, although it’s a fairly limited library, it’s good to see Google getting behind fonts on the web.

    Have to say though I don’t really see the benefit over using @font-face yourself, if the fonts are all open source… I guess it’ll help people who don’t know how to use @font-face?

  7. Great, finally fonts on web pages! Even if I am still in the humble process of trying to come up with decent css and bulletproof html for retarded products like Sharepoint and SAP. My god, endless levels of tables drowned in spacer gifs. Yes it still exists and produced by ‘big’ leading companies. So on the one hand people keep throwing money at these zombies products. And on the other hand we have css3, html5, webfonts, VP8 and webM! What a contrast!

  8. Am I the only one to worry about a future where the loading of every webpage ever causes yet another little blit of info to land in the google datamines as it inevitably loads some resource from their servers? I’m not so sure nice fonts is worth that.

  9. Not sure why one would need to rely on Google servers for this, as it’s easy enough to host @font-face fonts from one’s own web server. Mind you, anyone helping to bring typographic diversity to the web should be lauded … 3rd party servers or not.

  10. Not sure why one would need to rely on Google servers for this, as it’s easy enough to host @font-face fonts from one’s own web server.

    This is not for you and me: we roll our own @font-face or use Typekit.

    This is for the non-experts, the people who haven’t been keeping up with web fonts over the past year and half, the people who don’t develop websites for a living, and so on. (Of course professionals can use these open-source fonts too, but we wouldn’t necessarily use Google’s hosting and line of code to do it.)

    This is hopeful and good because it is a popularizing effort.

    The original Blogger made it possible for people who couldn’t use a CMS or roll their own HTML to begin blogging. This allowed many fine writers to become bloggers who wouldn’t have otherwise done so; it also helped make the public aware of blogging, making it mainstream; and it led to a flood of new tools, including WordPress, Expression Engine, Tumblr, and, arguably, Twitter.

    In the same way, when a company as big as Google gets on the web fonts bandwagon, even though their initial offering isn’t huge and their service isn’t the first to market, it’s good because it portends an increase in mainstream web fonts awareness and use.

  11. Just before this announcement the CMS developers started cashing out the same in ASAP mode. Just discovered a Drupal module on the same.

    “Google Fonts: This module enables your to add these web fonts to any web page by using the Google Font API.
    http://bit.ly/dxv4Fx

  12. I totally agree that having such a major player behind the cause of webfonts is a great thing, and the font API is sure to be a great tool for improving the state of online typography. Unfortunately, as much as I truly want to be excited about the Google font directory, most of the fonts they’ve chosen to serve fail in Windows. I posted some relevant screenshots to a related thread on Typophile: http://bit.ly/cabSQZ

  13. I agree that this just a popularising effort and should be lauded for the effort. However, I doubt whether any professional will have use for it.

  14. I agree that this just a popularising effort and should be lauded for the effort. However, I doubt whether any professional will have use for it.

    Right, I agree.

    Unfortunately, as much as I truly want to be excited about the Google font directory, most of the fonts they’ve chosen to serve fail in Windows. I posted some relevant screenshots to a related thread on Typophile: http://bit.ly/cabSQZ

    Thanks for posting those screenshots and the link to that interesting thread on Typophile. As expected, the Google announcement caused some professionals to pay attention who hadn’t noticed web fonts before (as well as attracting old hands like Richard Fink). Thus, as if for the first time, designers are noticing problems with web fonts on the Windows platform.

    The problems on Windows are many, and I won’t attempt to summarize them all in a comment.

    Leading type designers like Font Bureau and smart upstarts like Font Squirrel are addressing these problems by retooling classic fonts to work better across multiple Windows environments. In some cases they are adjusting the hinting; in other cases they are actually recutting the fonts. It’s a huge challenge.

    One of the advantages of a hosted service (as opposed to buying a licensed web font and hosting it yourself) is that, as improved font versions come along, the hosting service will swap it out for you automatically. Thus your display will only get better over time—and you won’t need to devote resources to checking the status of your web fonts and swapping them out yourself.

    I prefer self-hosting here, but I’m also being very conservative with web fonts here.

  15. Thanks for this note and your comments, Jeffrey. As always, your assessment of news is reasonable and helps put things in context.

  16. This is for the non-experts, the people who haven’t been keeping up with web fonts over the past year and half, the people who don’t develop websites for a living, and so on. (Of course professionals can use these open-source fonts too, but we wouldn’t necessarily use Google’s hosting and line of code to do it.)

    I actually use jQuery’s hosted file and Typepad’s hosted fonts. Saves me a few steps when I’m developing, and a hell of a lot of time keeping up with updates, browsers, libraries and the like.

    I think this is great news, though I am disappointed in the Google interface and font selection thus far. The value of free I suppose. I’ll continue to be a Typekit fangirl. ;)

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