Pixel Envy

Written by Nick Heer.

First the Cloud Giveth

Cabel Sasser:

Small gripe town: WordPress is replacing Adobe TypeKit fonts with Google Fonts. Plus,

  • This e-mail’s subject was “Improvements to WordPress Custom Fonts”

  • It doesn’t at all explain WHY

  • Please don’t tell a designer “these fonts are very similar to the ones you have”

This seems like a pretty quiet change for something that may have a big impact on some websites, but it seems like it was a pretty quiet feature in the first place. Apparently, it has been available for about ten years on Premium plans and up, but I went back through the last few years of WordPress.com’s pricing page and it doesn’t once mention Typekit or Adobe Fonts support. If you search the support site for references to either, you’ll find only two cached snippets that confirm Typekit fonts were available on Premium plans. Now, the only way to specify non-Google custom fonts is to use a much pricier Business plan.

Eric Peacock, in reply to Sasser’s tweet, linked to a piece by Mike Rankin in Creative Pro about an adjacent issue of type families in Adobe Fonts becoming, euphemistically, “retired”:

On June 15, 2020 a number of fonts will be retired from Adobe’s Creative Cloud. In total, about 50 families/700 fonts from the foundries Font Bureau and Carter & Cone will no longer be available to sync. You can find more details in this post on the Adobe Support Community site.

It’s not the first time Adobe Fonts have gone away. Back in March, House Industries fonts were retired after 3 years of being offered in Typekit/Adobe Fonts. Here’s the official FAQ from Adobe on font retirement.

Adobe Fonts can be a fantastic resource for use with the company’s Creative Cloud apps, as it means designers do not have to justify hundreds or thousands of dollars in typography-related billing, which can be especially painful in smaller organizations. It can often be difficult to explain to clients why a particular typeface is warranted instead of a lower-cost or free option, and Adobe Fonts offers a reasonable solution.

According to Adobe, fonts that it has pulled from its catalogue will continue to function for published web projects. That is pretty terrific. But organizations should be careful that their identities do not depend on Adobe’s ability to negotiate licenses with type houses.

Matthew Butterick:

A couple weeks ago, a customer reported that my fonts didn’t work in Microsoft Office. I looked up his order. He had bought the fonts in 2015. I asked: have they not worked for five years? Oh no, he said, they were working fine until September 28.

So what happened on September 28?

[…]

[…] I theorized that there was probably a buggy Microsoft Office update that went out to his computer that day. (True.) And that rolling back to the previous version would cure the problem. (Also true.)

The cloud-connected computing era is a real mixed bag of compromises. We are now able to use software for predictable monthly costs that we can disable at any time, and we get regular and frequent updates. Much of this software is either browser-based or cross-platform, so the effects of lock-in are reduced. We have access to massive libraries of fonts, music, movies, and television shows entirely on demand. It costs us nothing extra to experiment with so much choice.

It also means that our computers must be either constantly or regularly connected to the internet. There are often non-optional software updates that we must install before being able to do anything else. Those updates often introduce new bugs that may or may not be corrected in a later update, and frequently contain redesigns or different layouts that require us to re-learn something. If we stop paying for software, we lose access to it and, sometimes, files created in its proprietary formats. Our access to a specific piece of media is dependent on whatever licensing agreement a multinational company has been able to strike with another. Despite having near limitless choice, we still watch the same shows.