I'd like to use a non-standard web font to improve the appearance of my HTML.
Is it preferable to embed a web font or use something like sifr?
My understanding is sifr is a flash-based viewer for vector fonts but I've been reluctant to try it because it seems somewhat complicated.
There does not seem to be a lot of encouraging talk about web font embedding (because of legal issues) so maybe sifr is more of a standard way to do this?
Any feedback would be appreciated. Thanks.
Web fonts are supported in Safari 3.1, the upcoming Firefox 3.5 and the upcoming Opera 10. Internet Explore has supported a (different) format since IE4.
At this point, the biggest problems with the implementation in Safari, Firefox and Opera is that they require you to upload the original font file to your web server. For many fonts, this would constitute a violation of the license you received from the type foundry. Therefore, web fonts right now are not an appropriate solution if the type foundry has not given you permission to use them. However, there are freely licensed fonts available.
sIFR uses Flash to render the text, and is quite flexible in that you can select the text, change it dynamically, and have some control over the styling of nested HTML elements. Hoefler & Frere-Jones has given sIFR the OK, provided you pay for a server license and take all possible measures in limiting the sIFR Flash movie to your domain name.
That said, images, sIFR and Cufón are all hacks, and we need proper web fonts yesterday.
(Disclaimer: I'm the lead developer of sIFR, so I might be somewhat biased.)
You could also consider the JS alternative(s). However, for best cross browser compatibility you're better off using images and perhaps a background-image and text-indent CSS trick to replace static text with your images.
The technique I mentioned above (and others) can be read here: http://css-tricks.com/nine-techniques-for-css-image-replacement/
Something to consider:
For every visitor who sees your 'better looking' fonts, there are just as many who won't due to having an incompatible browser or disabling that feature. Having just the right font probably isn't the most valuable design change you could work on.
Written from my mobile browser which doesn't do embedded fonts.
Note that CSS3 Web Fonts module, which defines font embedding is still a Working Draft. Indeed, the practical support of font embedding isn't good. I'd say it's better to wait another 2-3 years.