TYPE DESIGN INFORMATION PAGE last updated on Fri Sep 22 10:12:26 EDT 2017

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LUC DEVROYE


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Ascender: Study of Free--Shareware Web Fonts

Ascender claims to have the ultimate proof that freeware/shareware fonts are inferior to commercial fonts. Statistics are only given for 4572 freeware TTF and OTF fonts, so we don't know how they compare, but that does not deter Ascender. The findings and my comments in italics:

  • TrueType hinting tables 8.9% failed (404 TrueType fonts had improper/incomplete tables): Considering that about 8% are pixel fonts anyway, what is the big deal? And how about automatic hinting in both freeware and commercial fonts? In fact, how many fonts, commercial or otherwise, are hand-hinted?
  • Code Page 1252 character set 80.8% failed (3696 fonts missing one or more characters): Most freeware fonts are playful---they are designed for a special purpose such as a poster or an announcement of an event or a digitization of a rock band's lettering.
  • Mac Roman character set 95.9% failed (4385 fonts missing one or more characters): Same comment as above. And where are the stats for commercial fonts?
  • Trademark string 1.7% failed (78 fonts missing a trademark string): Great. Passed this test.
  • Copyright string 68.9% failed (3152 fonts missing a copyright string): I am a little dismayed that so few freeware fonts do not have this. But then again, copyright does not have to be explicitly mentioned. Copyright is born when a creative piece is published, with or without copyright statement. Also, those who do not support intellectual property rights are not motivated to include copyright strings...
  • Embedding restriction 30.3% failed (1386 fonts set to Restricted or improper fsType): What a useless item! Each font designer is allowed to set the fsType bits to anything he/she likes. Most (more than 30%?) commercial fonts have restricted fsType bits, so what? Are freeware painters not allowed to use white paint? Are freeware writers not allowed to use four-letter words?

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Luc Devroye ⦿ School of Computer Science ⦿ McGill University Montreal, Canada H3A 2K6 ⦿ lucdevroye@gmail.com ⦿ http://luc.devroye.org ⦿ http://luc.devroye.org/fonts.html