Downloadable fonts with GlyphGate

There’s a change in the wind in terms of downloadable fonts. GlyphGate is part of the reason. GlyphGate isn’t for everyone. If you have control over your web server, you may be interested in installing GlyphGate. Your hosting company may have it installed (or will install it if enough people request it) so that you can use it. As GlyphGate describes itself:

GlyphGate is a Web server extension designed to enable use of fine typography, page formatting and languages across user platforms and browsers.

The GlyphGate plug in works with Apache, Windows and Solaris servers. It supports all languages defined in Unicode. It supports OpenType, TrueType, Type 1, Bitmap and vector fonts.

You write CSS declarations for the fonts you want and GlyphGate does the rest. However, there is a bit of a learning curve involved with writing the CSS. I’m not going to detail everything, because you’ll no doubt need to spend some time with the user’s manual before attempting to use GlyphGate yourself, but here are a couple of examples.

When the extension is installed on the server, a specific page on the server shows you which fonts are available. They are arranged in Unicode tables. Pick one and call for it using the a standard CSS rule like

p {font-family: Verdana;}

If you want to include all the characters in the font subset, you use an @font-face rule. Here’s an example from the GlyphGate user’s manual:

font-family: Trebuchet MS;
font-style: normal;
font-weight: normal;
/* Include Latin + digits + punctuation + tm */
unicode-range: az,AZ,U+7C,U+20-41,U+A?,U+2122,U+99

You can do far more, such as set smoothing and kerning. The fonts available are far more interesting to typographers than the two rather common ones shown in the previous examples.

I learned about GlyphGate in the book Fonts & Encodings by Yannis Haralambous, a massive compendium of information on fonts and encodings.

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