ATypI 2012 Hong Kong: Day 2 Morning Sessions

These are live blog notes from the 2012 ATypI in Hong Kong, 11 October 2012.

Usual disclaimer for live blogging: These are informal notes taken by Dave Crossland at the event, and may or may not be similar to what was said by the people who spoke on these topics. Probably if something here is incorrect it is because Dave mistyped it or misunderstood, and if anyone wants corrections, they should email him immediately ( – or post a comment.

11:50 Web fonts for non-Latin scripts – Toshi Omagari, Monotype

Non latin web fonts. Nassim for BBC was a breakthrough.

Web fonts are good [for the usual reasons] has the most non latin web fonts

GWF Early Access is an experimental page with the widest range of scripts available.

In web fonts or MArch 2012, 6 of top 100 were non latin

July had 10 – 4 chinese, 3 arabic – so we can see the steady growth of non latin web fonts

Here’s a list of example sites using non latin web fonts, including Wikipedia which uses Bengali and Burmese

There are simple and complex scripts. Complex scripts shape text by substiting glyphs depending on the context of other glyphs.

OpenType, wide support. AAt for Mac Safari, Mac Opera, iOS Safari.

Graphite, in Firefox as an option to enable and LibreOffice.

Last 2 are more powerful than OpenType but less widely supported.

DIN Next Devanagari, is OT and AAT. AAT works better than OT in this font.

There are unsupported scripts – Burmese only works on Mac. Syriac, Mongolian don’t work on Mac, Ethiopic on iOS, and Nastaleeq and Javanese don’t work anywhere.

Huge character sets can be an issue. CJK fonts are usually only a fe Mb, but can be up to 50mb.

Alan Tam explained yesterday that dynamic subsetting can help. Web Fonts services can help a lot with this.

I set up testing pages that are freely available to me, and GWF Early Access. Here you can see the results. Black text is a web font, blue text is a system font.

Some Loads and Works fine (LW), some fallback to system fonts (FB) and some load but don’t work (LD)

Some scripts can be really enhanced by web fonts because the system default may be a lot of boxes. But loading and not working may be worse than the system font.

GWF EA looks like this, its an experimental stage but here are lots of scripts available. North Korea loves Google Web Fonts! The government websites use it a lot.

Here are 2 tables showing these LW/FB/LD results and web fonts have less red cells, but Burmese may be LD. The table looks much better than I expected.

When I proposed the talk, I expected the talk to look more like this (all red with a 🙁 smiley made of yellow cells)

I found that mobile browsers support is worst, and all the fonts are improving quickly. Google web fonts are very reliable, and more reliable than those from

Raph Levien, said at Google IO 2011, that they are working to improve the reliablity of fonts.

I really thank Google for pushing this forward and setting the bar. Its up to us to make awesome web fonts and make the web richer, not just for Latin for the whole world!

Q: Do these work in mainland china when google doesn’t work in china?

A: If a website is blocked, not sure what we can do.

12:15 Solving the challenges of Asian web fonts – Bill Davis, Monotype

Technology Adoption Curve, the top 1,000 websites measured by traffic, around 10-15% are using web fonts. For latin. Non latin and Asian web fonts have some way to go.

Web fonts are easy to use. Web fonts services really easy. Web fonts services

Technology Adoption Curve, for non latin, we are really right at the very start of this. There are 5 asian web font services, typesquare (morisawa),,

These are in Japanese, there are some in Korea, and China has

Why not seeing asian web font take off? Sites are very text heavy, lots of text at small sizes, where system fonts are tuned; in latin web fonts are used to replace flash with html5 or images of text for real text.

System fonts have 1,000s of hours of hinting. Web fonts tend to be autohinted or

Filesize is a challenge. But its solvable. There are now more smartphones than PCs, so it will remain an issue for a while. A 2mb file takes 61 seconds on a 256k GPRS, versus a 4G mobile with 4Mbs takes 5s.

Subsetting is crucial, and dynamic subsetting is effective and available from

So I think THIS is the year that non latin web fonts will take off!

This entry was posted in Knowledge. Bookmark the permalink. Post a comment or leave a trackback: Trackback URL.

One Trackback

  1. By TypeCon 2012 Conference Trip Report | Slanted Hall on 15 October, 2012 at 1:46 am

    […] ATypI 2012 Hong Kong: Day 2 Morning Sessions […]

Post a Comment

Your email is never published nor shared. Required fields are marked *

To create code blocks or other preformatted text, indent by four spaces:

    This will be displayed in a monospaced font. The first four 
    spaces will be stripped off, but all other whitespace
    will be preserved.
    Markdown is turned off in code blocks:
     [This is not a link](

To create not a block, but an inline code span, use backticks:

Here is some inline `code`.

For more help see

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>


  • What we do

    Understanding Fonts is a type design training business. If you'd like an event in your college or city, let Dave know: