WEB . / .Feature: Bitstream WEB FONTS . / .WebFonts Instructions . / .WebFonts Sample

WebFont Maker
Bitstream Inc.

I'm sure every Web Site designer has, at one time or another, wanted to use special fonts in a web page without resorting to images which gooble up precious loading time . Bitstream has heard our pleas (begging?) and has come up with a pretty good solution. Although it is not yet perfect, it is a huge step in the right direction. (Be sure to see Fred's review of the Bitstream WebFonts package!)

How about being able to use almost any font you want on a web page ... even if the viewers don't have that font on their system? Add to this no plug-in* and you've got it made – you're in font heaven.

This wonder is WebFont Maker by Bitstream. It consists of WebFont Wizard, a tool for creating dynamic fonts for use on the Web, and Bitstream Font Navigator, an award-winning tool for managing fonts. (I have been using the Font Navigator for years before it was Bitstream and love it.) You also get a wonderful bonus of over 200 TrueType fonts and a sample pack of WGL4 (Windows Glyph List 4) fonts that you can use to record Western and PanEuropean characters.

My first concern was, “how long will it take to learn?” I don't know about you, but I sure don't have time to spend on a huge learning curve. You'll be relieved to hear that it took me only about a half hour to install, learn and set up the sample I have here for you.

Here is a brief summary of the process:

  • Install the program, which installs Font Navigator.
  • Open Font Navigator and have it find all the fonts on your system.

Then for each font you want to use:

  • Open the Font Wizard and choose the font you want and the URL it will be displayed on.
  • Add some code to your HTML.
  • Upload the font file and your HTML.

That is pretty much all there is to it. Be sure to check out the System Requirements and what you need to use the WebFont Maker.

The documentation is quite good. The only thing that wasn't clear was the code to put in the head of the document. (The embedded font requires a Javascript entry in the <HEAD> portion of the web page) When you make your embedded font file, the Font Wizard makes a readme.html file to go with it. This is the code to be inserted into your web page. The code in the file is missing the Javascript language tag. The code for the Web Font Player is also wrong in the manual, I found the correct code on their website.

I used font tags to set my fonts. Just use the name of the embedded font (<font face="Slipstream"...> ). WebFont Maker also supports CSS. Instructions on how to use it in style sheets is included.

Not all True Type fonts can be embedded. The first one I tried was a True Type font but it said it could not be embedded. The next ones I tried worked fine. Just try the ones you want and see which fonts will cooperate. I went to their website to try and find a better solution and this is what I found:

1. Some font manufacturers do not want you to record their fonts for use on the Web. Bitstream respects their wishes. If the font manufacturer has set the embedding bits to prevent embedding the font, then you cannot create a portable font resource (PFR) for the font.

2. If you have installed the same font in both TrueType and PostScript Type 1 formats, you will see the same message that the font cannot be embedded. Close WebFont Wizard and uninstall either the TrueType or Postscript Type 1 version of the font. Assuming the font manufacturer allows the font to be embedded, you should be able to create a PFR when you restart WebFont Wizard.

So if you have both True Type and Postscript installed it is still the way I did it, trial and error.

Does all this sound too good to be true? What's the Catch? You're right ... there is a catch, here is where the * from above comes in. Netscape already has the Font Player plug-in included. But IE users will have to download it - one time only. Of course it is free and easy to get.

To view the sample all you have to do is click here.

Joyce Evans is a freelance reviewer. If you have software or hardware you would like reviewed please send press releases or contact at: Joyce@je-ideadesign.com.


Reviewed by Joyce Evans from Idea Design
Copyright 2000 Joyce Evans, All Rights Reserved Joyce Evans is the webmaster for the I-Us Bookstore.

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