Talk:Wikimedia Foundation Design/Typography
|Thread title||Replies||Last modified|
|MediaWiki should be font agnostic||3||23:59, 9 May 2013|
|Serifs||1||20:15, 2 April 2013|
|Logos||0||23:57, 9 January 2013|
|Arial?||3||19:32, 4 January 2013|
|Line spacing - languages with many diacritics||0||18:01, 9 August 2012|
|Line spacing - footnotes||0||18:01, 9 August 2012|
|First line indentation||0||18:00, 9 August 2012|
|Bold italic||0||17:59, 9 August 2012|
|About the use of Webfonts||0||17:59, 9 August 2012|
Up until very recently, MediaWiki has been consistently font agnostic - specifying font-face as either 'serif' or 'sans-serif'. I have not seen any justification for why this needs to be changed to "Helvetica Neue", which seems like a very arbitrary choice. At least Arial has a huge glyph set, so I could understand an argument for using it, but I still think being font-agnostic is better. Otherwise in 10 years, we'll have changed our mind 10 times about which font to use, and we'll have complete fragmentation, like we have for every other UI element we've tried to standardize (multiple times). I would propose we remove the use of Helvetica Neue and go back to simply sans-serif.
Actually there seems to be quite a bit of font specification on Wikimedia sites, per bug 46437, including in skins and jquery.ui. Unlike all of that, our use of Helvetica Neue for the platforms that already have it and a san-serif for everyone else was actually supported via A/B tests on the interfaces that will currently carry these font declarations.
I so dearly do not wish to get involved in this again, but the font listing in that bug is misleading. I've left a comment about it in the bug.
I prefer my Wikipedia experience to have serifs (Times New Roman, in fact), and for this reason I have used the Classic skin since I began editing in early 2004. I do know how to set my browser to impose serifs on all pages, but I don't want serifs on all pages on all sites. Just on Wikipedia and related sites. I strongly object to the elimination of serif fonts as an option.
I should note for the design team (of which I'm not a member) that this page is out of date. In any case, I assume you know you can just set the font family in whatever personal skin CSS you're using, and without CSS hackery you can change your input font to be serif in your preferences.
If you're recommending that in the long run, we should provide a skin or other option for using serif fonts in the body text, navigation etc. I think that's a reasonable request to make, but it's not going to happen overnight and will require some discussion of implementation details.
Even before people get to the aesthetic qualities of Arial and its non-free licensing, there is a practical problem with it: It is nowhere near being a "global typeface", as this page suggests, because it covers very few writing systems: Latin, Cyrillic, Greek, Hebrew, Arabic and maybe Thai. It doesn't even cover Latin, Cyrillic and Greek well and has a lot missing characters.
Forcing Arial on languages that it doesn't support is pointless: they will change it in local CSS anyway. This includes languages of West Africa, which are written in Latin, but use many characters that Arial doesn't have.
I don't quite understand why should we specify an explicit font-family in the first place. People who read in languages for which fonts are easily available should be able to use their own preferred font (unless Wikipedia wants to create a unique identity for itself, but Arial is obviously not a font for unique identity). For people who read languages that Arial doesn't support at all it can a be a problem - millions of people still use browsers that don't support fallback fonts, and they will be forced to see squares instead of letters.
I also find weird the choice of Arial for Latin languages. The primary font should be a free one and then Arial can be suggested as fallback for browser compatibility. See w:Arial#Free_alternatives.
See https://lists.wikimedia.org/mailman/listinfo/design if you'd like to give this a little more formal exposure (which I wholeheartedly support).
I thought I'd seen this discussed on a mailing list before, but it might have been "internal e-mail". Anyway, I search the archives of design and only found this post on fonts so far:
Other recent news are the release of Adobe open source fonts Source Sans Pro and Source Code pro. While the industry trend is to go for a small common set of open source fonts motivated by cross-desktop and cross-browser compatibility, we can't have precisely Wikimedia going in a opposite, old school direction going for... Arial.
I will be having a presentation in 4 weeks at FOSDEM and I want to take our design guidelines as inspiration for that slide deck. I don't know what fonts will be used but I can assure you Arial or any proprietary font won't be there. Any suggestions?
Some languages use more diacritics than others. This is relevant for Latin-based languages, like Vietnamese and Min Nan, where the diacritics are far more complicated than in languages like French. And it is also relevant for Indic and Southeast Asian languages, which have a lot of signs above and below the the line. Currently in core these languages ask for larger line-height (see skins/common/shared.css).
This is an important consideration. Maybe the line spacing should just be increased for all languages. And maybe only for some languages, but the code that does it should be cleaner and more robust than it is now.
Sometimes bold and italics are called for; for example, when convention asks us to bold a key term (as in the lead of an encyclopedia article), but that key term is the title of a work that should be italicized, or a Latin binomial taxon.
It has been argued that Arial is a safe choice for the default typeface due to its availability. Using webfonts (+ Arial as fallback) could be a compatible solution that would offer more options in terms of typography.
From the technical side, I think there is already webfont support through a MediaWiki extension for displaying non-latin scripts.