More type control with CSS3 Fonts

Warning This article was written over six months ago, and may contain outdated information.

After the issue of the overhauled CSS3 Text module recently, I wonder if the Fonts module is due for similar treatment? The current working draft states:

The working group believes this draft is stable and it therefore issues a last call for comments, before requesting the status of Candidate Recommendation for the draft. The deadline for comments is 30 August 2002.

Four and a half years ago! That’s a long feedback process!

The module introduces a few new features into the coder’s lexicon, and although none of them are truly essential, they would be very useful; there is so much text on the web, but typography is the least‐developed aspect of CSS.

font‐size‐adjust lets you preserve the height of type even if the user doesn’t have your first‐choice font installed. Certain fonts have higher height aspect than others, so type that you’ve carefully styled to appear at a certain height could suddenly appear smaller if font substitution was used. font‐size‐adjust let’s you overcome that problem. The module provides some examples of font height aspects.

font‐stretch is useful when displaying font families with condensed or extended faces, such as Arial. You can select absolute (condensed, extended, etc) or relative (narrower, wider) values.

font‐effect allows you to apply ‘special effects’ to your font; choose from embossed, engraved, or outlined text.

font‐smooth switches anti‐aliasing on or off. Fonts look so ugly without anti‐aliasing, I can’t imagine a situation where you’d ever turn it off!

Finally, three declarations with limited use outside of East Asia: font‐emphasize‐style and font‐emphasize‐position, along with the shorthand font‐emphasize. These are used only to set emphasis on East Asian characters.

Will this module make it to recommendation in this form? Or will it make a comeback in altered form? I suspect the latter. But I think the most radical change to web typography will come not from the implementation of this module, but from the implementation of @font-face, which will facilitate the use of non‐core fonts.

By the way, anyone interested in web typography should, if they haven’t already, read Richard Rutter and Mark Boulton’s Web Typography Sucks presentation. It’s a 4MB PDF download, but well worth ten minutes of your time.

Cross‐posted to CSS3.info.

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