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Open Source Type

With any luck, we’ll soon have another widely available typeface family for us to spec in our CSS files. Bitstream has launched the Vera Family (Sample) (download at ftp.gnome.org/pub/GNOME/sources/ttf-bitstream-vera/1.10/).

While the obvious benefit to most web folks is that it’s another option for us to choose from, the biggest benefit will be seen for those using open source software as this face can be incorporated into the GUI. If anyone has attempted to run OpenOffice on OSX, you will know what that means. ;o)

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PUBLISHED ON Apr.18.2003 BY darrel
pk’s comment is:

damn. i was gonna post this, but darrel beat me to it. i wanted to wait until i'd tested it before blowing my mouth off.


vera is really nice; i'm considering swithching it out as my primary font for online reading—the squareness of the forms make it incredibly legible onscreen. my previous choice had been hoefler text, which is nice, but too contrasty at my screen resolution (1920 by 1440). vera's so far holding up nicely.

On Apr.18.2003 at 05:36 PM
Stephen Coles’s comment is:

Really pk? I don't see anything stellar about these designs. For me, nothing really gets close to the quality of Verdana and Georgia onscreen.

On Apr.19.2003 at 11:12 PM
pk’s comment is:

i love verdana and georgia. i've been using them as my screenfonts of choice for some years now.

vera serif in particular holds up really nicely at my enormous screen resolution, and is actually kind of lighter in contrast than georgia, which helps. and the monospace works well (i had been using andale).

still loving verdana as my sans, though. all of these observations are based on the past few days of primary usage. i've been working on a new typeface, so have been staring at the monitor quite a bit lately.

On Apr.20.2003 at 03:07 PM
Su’s comment is:

Okay, so it probably won't replace Arial, Verdana, et al. but if it's a decent font, it's always nice to have an alternative. Now the problem is whether it'll actually be distributed enough for anyone to care to specify it *cough*. I see no reason for Microsoft to want to pick up the font and distribute it with IE.

So outside of the niche Linux world, this project seems to be largely relying on users making a visit to a web site they would probably never go to otherwise, and downloading/installing a font they don't really need. Uh uh. Penetration into PCs and Macs will occur, if at all, through Mozilla, for obvious reasons. Unfortunately, neither the Mozilla.org nor MozillaZine web sites have any mentions at all of the fonts, that I could find.

On Apr.21.2003 at 11:11 AM
Darrel’s comment is:


This is a good thing not because of any imaginary saturation of the font among all of the OSes, but rather it's a nice, versatile font that will now be available on a lot of Linux distros. This is good for both open source software, and web users on linux machines. This face won't replace the fonts you currently spec. It will merely compliment them.

On Apr.21.2003 at 11:49 AM
Su’s comment is:

If the true goal of the Vera project is use as a system font, then great. I've seen plenty of crabbing about how crap fonts can be on Linux, and it's good there's finally a nice one.

However, you opened your post with a suggestion of an alternate font to use for the web, and that's the main thing I was addressing(sidenote: freely available is not the same thing as widely available, which is another of my points, re: saturation). As for complementing the existing fonts, that still requires Vera to be specified in the first place. Sure, every Linux user might set it as default and have that override stylesheets, but that's 1) not a realistic expectation, and 2) not complementing, but replacing. If you want complementary, then you need to have developers believing it's on enough machines(back to the saturation thing) to be worth learning about and making the design decision to spec it, unless Vera's got metrics close enough to one of the existing fonts that it won't matter if one gets switched for the other(details, anyone?). Even further: Developers will have to edit their standard font-family groupings to list Vera first, because otherwise, those users who cribbed the "standards" from their friends will end up looking at Arial, Georgia, etc anyway. It's one of those little things that takes absolutely minimal effort, but almost nobody bothers doing, and is frankly probably one of the bigger threats to adoption.

Don't get me wrong. I like the font. But I think it's misguided to think it's going to show up in your browser anytime soon, other than as something being forced by the user. And if that's the case, well, I have Homesite set to use Gill Sans, and would probably set it as default in my browsers if I cared to take the time.

On Apr.21.2003 at 03:13 PM
Darrel’s comment is:

freely available is not the same thing as widely available

Yep. Good point. I did say widely available. I should have said freely.

And 'complementing' wasn't perhaps the best adjective either.

As for spec'ing it as a face in one's CSS Font Family declarations, that's really a no-brainer. If you care to support linux, developers will start adding that in.

I do agree with your points, though. One shouldn't expect this to be as wide spread as the previous MS web fonts.

On Apr.21.2003 at 03:59 PM