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There are a few decent open fonts now (and then a whole lot of novelty display faces, and a fair number of knockoffs), but it is unlikely that the "open font movement" is going to displace H+FJ or the like any time soon.

That's an unfortunate example. H&FJ do excellent work, but a lot of people simply can't use it (legally, at least) because of their archaic licensing. You can't use their fonts on the web with @font-face. You can't even embed them in PDFs you're going to distribute, without paying for some mysterious extension to the standard licence.

They displaced themselves from those markets, and given that there are now some free web fonts available that are very good by any standards, I suspect H&FJ will never establish themselves in that market in the way they could have. Perhaps from a commercial point of view it doesn't matter to them, if their focus is the high-end, money-no-object-for-our-brand customers that I suspect they rely on for the bulk of their revenues. If you count people like the President of the United States among your customers, I imagine that makes up for quite a few Joe Webmasters.

They are clearly crying themselves to sleep on their pillows stuffed with hundred dollar bills.

Maybe they are or maybe they aren't. It doesn't change the fact that they have kept themselves out of the low-mid range font market through their deliberate choices about pricing and licensing. The "open font movement" doesn't need to displace H&FJ, because H&FJ were never the incumbent.

This is a fake argument. Who's contesting that H+FJ has "kept themselves out of the low-mid range font market"? Of course they're doing that.

Then unless we're talking about some sort of high-end native apps that are going to want to license H&FJ fonts because the open, screen-optimised fonts already available are somehow inferior, what was your original point again?

That the open fonts people point to tend to be inferior to those of H+FJ or FF, and that H+FJ doesn't seem to care much that you can't use their fonts on your terms.

The thing is, for on-screen use, that simply isn't true. Good screen-optimised fonts, including the better free ones like Open Sans or Source Sans, will blow almost any standard font from almost any major foundry out of the water right now if the application is on-screen web or native apps.

The strengths of good screen fonts (i.e., hinting) are very different to the strengths of high-end pro font families from the big foundries (subtle details, comprehensive range of weights, big character sets, and so on).

The sad thing is that even those foundries who have made some attempt to port their popular fonts to a screen format, typically for use as web fonts, have produced very poor results more often than not. (Don't believe me? Go visit any trendy web design blog that uses Typekit, and then disable Typekit and read the same text in a dedicated screen font like Calibri or Verdana, and tell me which one really looks better.) I attribute that directly to the fact that they haven't invested the same effort in those screen fonts that they might invest in a "full" font, which in turn is presumably because they don't expect any extra quality to make much difference to how much money they make, which in turn is probably because they're segmenting the market into "rich" and "freeloaders" and mostly ignoring the middle ground who might make better screen fonts a profitable endeavour.

Until that changes, I'll take something like Open Sans or Source Sans over anything in the H&FJ collection for use in a web or native app, thanks -- not least because H&FJ still don't seem to have converted their fonts and made them available for web use at all. I sometimes wonder how their high-end clients who demand consistent high-end branding feel about that.

We disagree. But by all means, go ahead and keep using Open Sans. It's a competently executed font that will make you look like you care about as much about flashy typesetting as Google does. Which is my point.

Well, it is certainly a more competently executed font than anything from H&FJ, because they don't have any screen-optimised web fonts available yet.

And while I respect your right to disagree, I do not appreciate your implications about the quality of my typographical work. I know that the price I pay for posting under a pseudonym is being unable to defend myself by showing actual work I've produced, but to those who know who I am and the kind of work I produce professionally in real life, right now you're probably looking a bit like I would if I started lecturing you about how it's bad practice to store the raw version of passwords so you should XOR everything with a randomly selected byte for security.

Yes, they do; they just aren't generally available on open terms. Kottke's blog uses (used?) an H+FJ web font.

I don't even follow your second graf. "Your typographical work"? What would that be? If I'd seen it and commented on it, your comment would make more sense.

Yes, they do; they just aren't generally available on open terms.

Well then I come back to my original point: H&FJ is an unfortunate example to compare with open fonts, because they have already excluded themselves from the markets we are talking about in this HN discussion.

If I'd seen it and commented on it, your comment would make more sense.

Your previous statement "[Open Sans is] a competently executed font that will make you look like you care about as much about flashy typesetting as Google does" came across as a not very subtle insult, as if anyone using Open Sans can't typeset anything more interesting with it than a big white space with a couple of words and a text box in the middle. If that wasn't what you intended then I withdraw my comment.

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