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LUC DEVROYE


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EOT versus OT, part I

[Written in September 2008.] When a web page designer wants you to see a page in a certain font, one simple solution would be to provide a copy of the font with the web page. But fearing yet another loss of precious font data, and unaware that even scarier things will be served in the next few years, Adobe and Microsoft (as explained by Thomas Phinney) are plugging another font format to be attached to web pages, the EOT or Embedded OpenType file format. Again, there is nothing Open about this format, as it was initially designed to have an obfuscated structure. In 2008, the specs came out, but the EOT format was not directly usable in common operating systems. Adobe hoped that people would feel more secure about putting fonts up for download in EOT format. Phinney: If an end user wants to take an EOT file and convert it, there won't be anything physically stopping them. But it will be difficult for them to be unaware that what they are doing is usually wrong and illegal (dependent on the copyright and licensing status of the font in question). Adobe and Microsoft hoped that EOT would take off. The truth is that if it does, then surely someone will write a good font converter to extract the font data. At that point, Adobe and Microsoft will probably suggest something else. The success of EOT will be its undoing. In the meantime, Adobe was proactive (still in 2008): Adobe is strongly supportive of the effort to make Microsofts EOT web font format an open standard. Indeed, Adobe pays for Steve Zilles' time, and he will be chairing the EOT standardization effort, should the W3C accept the proposal in principle. We will be updating our licensing FAQ to make it clear that our existing font license terms allow EOT usage, and do not allow linking to original fonts placed on web servers. And simultaneously, the race is on for young computer scientists: who will write the first EOT to TrueType or OpenType converter? Please liberate us from yet another "font format"!

Note added in 2009: EOT seems to lose out against WOFF, according to the reactions heard at ATypI 2009 in Mexico City.

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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