Hacker News new | past | comments | ask | show | jobs | submit login
Beautiful web type: highlighting the best of the Google web fonts directory (hellohappy.org)
268 points by ubuwaits on Jan 28, 2012 | hide | past | web | favorite | 43 comments



Why do fonts look like ants chipped away some pixels in chrome/win7? They look better in Firefox but I remember OSX looking better still, can be wrong about that though since I hadn't access to one in a long time. But fonts in Chrome are plain ugly, someone please turn on AA.

FF on the left, Chrome on the right: http://i.imgur.com/SxlaT.png


Chrome on Windows doesn't use the DirectWrite text rendering engine as opposed to Firefox or IE. See details here:

http://eligrey.com/blog/post/better-font-smoothing-in-google...

This has been an open issue since 2009. I'm surprised it still hasn't been fixed even though it's a daily nuisance in the world of beautiful web fonts and large type sizes:

http://code.google.com/p/chromium/issues/detail?id=25541

http://code.google.com/p/chromium/issues/detail?id=105944

EDIT: an official DirectWrite port of Chrome/Win is currently under development:

https://groups.google.com/a/chromium.org/group/chromium-dev/...


You might be interested in gdipp -- after using OS X for a couple years I couldn't stand Windows font rendering, but this really does make it better.

Link: http://code.google.com/p/gdipp/


Hm, not sure what happened there. Chrome isn't applying any anti-aliasing to those fonts. No greyscale, no sub-pixel, nothing.


Noticed it, too. Pretty disappointing after waiting years to really be able to play with great typography. Especially painful coming from a Google site rendered inside a Google browser.


And yet on WinXP it's the inverse: http://i.imgur.com/fge34.png


They look fine in Chrome on Ubuntu at least to my eyes.


Disclaimer: I worked in print design for a while on Mac+Win. I know typography and optics. The linked Website is butiful, so are the fonts there. What I'am writing is propably off-topic and a general objection to some statements made in the comments here.

1) the google web fonts directory is very nice, but does anyone really consider those fonts for readable body text? They are great for headlines and short snippets but a complete article - no thank you. There is a great difference between fancyness and usability.

2) One Exemple is this myth, that OSX' font rendering is always better thant the rendering of windows' rendering because OSX applies more anti-aliasing to the fonts. As soon as you get to a certain font size - usually the one you use for articles - anti-aliased fonts are a pain-in-the-eyes.

3) They might appear worn out but those boring old fonts, like Verdana, that took months to built and cost real money are still the most reliable when it comes to body text. They are boring because there are few alternatives.

4) Microsoft payed above average for their fonts. Maybe more than the customers appreciate. But everytime I sit in front of an iPad, MacBook and the like, those dirty fonts destroy the whole product for me. The only way apple is gonna get rid of that cheap rendering performance is by investing in their rendering engine (not gonna happen) or by introducing retina displays in all of their products (more likely to happen).


> One Exemple is this myth, that OSX' font rendering is always better thant the rendering of windows' rendering because OSX applies more anti-aliasing to the fonts. As soon as you get to a certain font size - usually the one you use for articles - anti-aliased fonts are a pain-in-the-eyes.

It's not quite that simple, and I'm not sure everyone would agree with that assertion. It's more to do with the fact that the font rendering is done differently (regarding whether the "pixel grid" is respected) rather than more anti-aliasing is applied.

> Microsoft payed above average for their fonts. Maybe more than the customers appreciate. But everytime I sit in front of an iPad, MacBook and the like, those dirty fonts destroy the whole product for me. The only way apple is gonna get rid of that cheap rendering performance is by investing in their rendering engine (not gonna happen) or by introducing retina displays in all of their products (more likely to happen).

Apple paid for their professional fonts too, even including Zapfino — simply to show off their font rendering. It's not cheaper, and they already invest a lot in to their rendering engine, which has improved in leaps and bounds over different versions of Mac OS X. Fonts that looks good on Mac OS X can come out terrible on Windows because manual hinting to every typeface has to be applied to make them look good, or Cleartype will come along and distort all the character forms.

The only reason you think Apple's font rendering is cheap is because you're not used to it — and it pervades everything you read. In contrast, to me Windows fonts look "cheaper", in that they're all thin and sickly. However, it should be understood that's it's a subjective choice, rather than one necessarily being better than another.

http://damieng.com/blog/2007/06/13/font-rendering-philosophi... and http://www.codinghorror.com/blog/2007/06/font-rendering-resp... might be interesting reading.


While that looks really pretty, it's not really useful.

This could have been a great article if they hadn't just gone for the easy eye candy but instead actually discuss the fonts in question?

- name of the font

- style of the font (sans, slab-serif, etc)

- who made the font, what style is it based on, what was the designer's purpose/goal with this font

- what does the author of the article think the font is good for

- how complete is the font, what characters does it support, quite a few of them don't even have most of the basic symbols from lower ASCII, that's pretty important to be aware of or you get unpleasant surprises long after the design is done

- how well is the font kerned? this is probably the worst omission, because the OP is actively misleading on this front, look at the source code and notice the special "kern" classes--and just stop right there and close the tab.

Manual kerning, really? Having to do that before a font looks good pretty much excludes it from any serious consideration for usage as a web font. Utterly worthless!

Imagine explaining to a client you designed a website for, that if they need to add new content to the CMS, they must manually kern the headlines! ... errr ... manually do the whut now?


You have a good point about the manual kerning (not sure what's up with that), but I don't agree with any of your other criticisms. This is basically what typeface catalogs are like: a demo of a particular face.

- name of the font

who cares. click through to find out

- style of the font (sans, slab-serif, etc)

you need someone to tell you that? I don't understand.

- who made the font, what style is it based on, what was the designer's purpose/goal with this font

who cares. click through to find out

- how complete is the font, what characters does it support, quite a few of them don't even have most of the basic symbols from lower ASCII, that's pretty important to be aware of or you get unpleasant surprises long after the design is done

Yes, that information is clearly visible when you click through.

Imagine explaining to a client you designed a website for, that if they need to add new content to the CMS, they must manually kern the headlines! ... errr ... manually do the whut now?

Yes, you'd look like an idiot if you did that.


This is helpful feedback. This is a very new project, so I am still iterating on my approach. Over time it will evolve. Maybe in the future you will find it more useful for your needs.


I really appreciate that this site uses interesting quotes rather than lorem ipsum. It makes it less boring to trawl through different fonts.


...and more difficult to compare them.


These typefaces should not necessarily be compared to each other. Every typeface has contexts where it works better than other contexts. I've tried to use each typeface in a way that highlights its positive attributes and minimizes its negative ones.


Lato is one of my current favorites, glad you included it. Orbitron, Jura and Cabin also work well in certain places.

I do wish there were more fonts with 3+ styles (reg, bold and ital at least), though I'm sure that'll change with time.


> I do wish there were more fonts with 3+ styles (reg, bold and ital at least)

On a related note, this was linked from a few places the other day:

http://somadesign.ca/demos/better-google-fonts/


Nice - "Because web designers want font families, not just fonts." Thanks for the link, Chris.


Very nice list! I recently also wrote on this topic: http://sachagreif.com/google-webfonts-that-dont-suck/


Nice list! But I feel you may have overlooked some other great google web fonts.

For example, Open Sans and Arimo are two good Sans fonts created by the awesome Steve Matteson. I am currently using Arimo for my new project, and it s a nice replacement for the vanilla Arial/Helvetica [Neue].


Oh man, don't use Arimo, or its identical twin Liberation Sans. It is to Arial what Arial is to Helvetica; a metrics-compatible replacement that tries to do its own thing and winds up just awkward. The stupid little serif on J annoys me to no end, and all the capitals look almost like small-caps compared to the lower-case.

By contrast, Open Sans is lovely, go nuts with it. :)


Thanks for the feedback :D

I need a good alternative to Arial. Do you have any other recommendations from google web fonts?



I can't (off the top of my head) think of any Google Web Fonts entries that are quite as bare-bones plain as Arial, but you might want to look at Open Sans (mentioned previously), Lato, PT Sans... maybe Asap, Signika, Cabin. That should be enough to get started with. :)


I'd like to see this list but your site seems to be down.


As I slip on my typographic curmudgeon's hat, I have to ask where are the printer's ornaments? Can you set a chess diagram with anything in Google web fonts? Don't think we've quite arrived yet...


Ornaments? Ha. A lot of them don’t have italics. Or reasonable kerning. Or text figures. Or even basic “special” characters like ñ.

I’d give up dozens of attractive but incomplete fonts for a single complete one. One or two bugs or minor missing features puts a font out of the question as a default.


Ubuntu seem to be working for completeness, especially multilingually http://font.ubuntu.com/

Sorts mill Goudy has italics, text figures etc http://www.theleagueofmoveabletype.com/sorts-mill-goudy

Clearly though there is much to do in free fonts.


If you want more fonts to choose from on Ubuntu, you can download the fonts using Mercurial as described here:

http://code.google.com/p/googlefontdirectory/

As a nice twist I tested and found that if you place your googlefontdirectory in $HOME/.fonts then the gnome-tweak-tool will scan and pick up the fonts, even in Unity!


I so envy you font guys. If I had more time I would invest it in typography. Good design always starts with awesome fonts.


1 web page

22 HTTP requests

442.61KB transferred

Thankfully we're not facing an increasing use of mobile devices on high latency networks. Oh.

Platform and browser defaults have come so far that nowadays my preferred font stack is this:

  font-family: sans-serif;


Most sites aren't going to be demoing a bunch of different fonts like this. They'd likely pick one for headers and one for copy.


I agree. On that same note, I would stay away from using a web font in your body. It'll render slow on smart phones if you have a fairly lenthy article. Not only that, it may not render as crisp, therefore causing a bad reading experience.


"I would stay away from using a web font in your body. It'll render slow on smart phones"

Why is that? I thought the system fonts would be TrueType or OpenType, and so use the same renderer as web fonts. Not that I know much about the technical details of fonts; is it possible to optimize a font for ease of rendering?


Also, they can be combined into one HTTP request.


So what are the first two fonts? That's frustrating they're not named.


Helpful hint: you can check out all of the page's css using the inspector. For this case you can see that what font-family is declared, and then reference it on google. Using this technique you can add styles on the fly to your sites and check them out as you are designing.


Thanks, I didn't know that.


The display face is Abril Fatface and the body is set in Open Sans.


Maybe you could put that in the github repo?

(Or maybe I could, I know, I know ...)


That's awesome, thanks.


Mouseover the text and the tooltip shows the font name.


Also all the text links to the specific font being used.




Guidelines | FAQ | Support | API | Security | Lists | Bookmarklet | Legal | Apply to YC | Contact

Search: