New Web Font Service Launched by Partnership of Experts

Led by Font Bureau and Ascender Corp., Webtype.com introduces a new range of web fonts optimized for high quality text rendering across browsers. Webtype.com launches an innovative web font service to improve web typography.

Boston, MA and Elk Grove Village, IL — August 17, 2010 — The Font Bureau, Inc. and Ascender Corporation today announced Webtype.com, a new venture to serve web designers and developers with publication-quality fonts to improve the typography and readability of websites. The service is available now at Webtype.com with a variety of custom web font options to accommodate websites of all sizes.

In the past, technical issues limited how fonts could be used on websites, but a lot has changed in the last couple years. Web designers have probably heard about new options for using fonts other than the handful of “web-safe” choices like Verdana and Georgia in their web designs.

As all the major web browsers have adopted support for the @font-face technology for linking fonts to web pages, new web font services have come on the market. While some of the existing services offer viable solutions for some cases, it was decided that the only way to maintain certain essential requirements was to start from scratch and build a new service from the ground up.

The result of that decision has been realized as Webtype, a collaborative effort between Font Bureau, Ascender Corporation, Roger Black, Petr van Blokland, and DevBridge. Within that group sit some of the most respected leaders in type and technology — people uniquely suited to take on the issue of web fonts.

So, what is so different about Webtype? Why bother with a whole new web font service?

One significant distinction is the licensing model. The Webtype service is modular by design, so you only pay for the fonts you need and for the level of traffic that your site draws.

Another major feature is that any font on Webtype.com can be tested for free for a month. This way designers and their clients have an opportunity to evaluate any of the fonts in real-world settings without the risk or guesswork sometimes associated with font licensing. Also, building on their history of custom font work for print publications — services like feature expansions or proprietary typeface development — Font Bureau and Ascender can provide specialized fonts through Webtype to meet any individual client’s particular needs for their website.

While a flexible licensing model, free trials, and custom services are important, the most crucial component that sets Webtype apart is the standard of quality for the fonts offered.

For starters, each Webtype font has been carefully ‘hinted’: instructions are programmed into a font to optimize how it is rendered on screen. While such instructions are often automated, only a human eye can evaluate and tune a font to the optimal level of quality. Therefore, each and every font on Webtype has been  methodically hinted by Tom Rickner and the experts at Ascender Corporation, the people behind many of the web-safe fonts we’ve all relied on in the past. The result is type that renders crisply and cleanly across all browsers and operating systems.

But hinting isn’t everything. When it comes to the nitty-gritty task of setting paragraphs of small text onscreen, even the best hinting in the world can’t ensure the success of any font. Because the computer screen is a unique format with its own particular properties (and constraints), achieving the most readable text fonts for the screen requires that they be designed from the ground up, with all the technological quirks in mind.

Font Bureau and Ascender have done just that, investing significant amounts of time to develop the Reading Edge™ (RE) series of fonts. These fonts are styled to correspond to existing print typefaces from the Font Bureau library, but are in fact totally new designs produced specifically for setting highly readable onscreen text. The series, which is only available through Webtype, currently consists of five font families and provides web designers with a flexible palette of hard-working text typefaces.

“Webtype is the first service that offers web fonts tuned for reading at small sizes while at the same time providing web designers with an interesting choice of typefaces” said noted publication designer Roger Black.

In addition to the new RE series, users can also expect to see many of the classic Font Bureau typefaces optimized and made available for web use through Webtype, along with select fonts from other distinguished type designers and foundries. Keep an eye on webtype.com for a steady stream of new fonts and functionality over the coming weeks and months.

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