With all the Open Source fonts I have available, and I can download them via the CSS font directive, what's the benefit of the TypeKit API?

Are there drawbacks of this? How does it work technically? Are there certain ways of constructing my website I should avoid?


Annoyingly on-line fonts are not supported by all browsers (Opera on the iPhone being a pet peeve).

Google Fonts pure CSS system seems to work better than the alternatives, but you can end up with a FoUC on many browsers.

Google Font API "...was co-developed by Google and TypeKit" so I hope the following experience is similar enough:

  • the JavaScript library is quite light, but watch out for any serious increase in latency from the extra DNS lookups and HTTP connections that may be caused by cross-domain resources

  • using the JSAPI version is quite slow on an empty cache (as a side note you also can't combine JS requests into one big file)

  • being able to declare the fonts needed separately from the JavaScript include allows for post-loading the library and really helps with (X)HTML template flexibility

  • the extra paint events triggered when the JavaScript library re-paints the entire screen by changing page-wide classes will mean your CSS has to be efficient (Google offer a guide on this)

  • whilst having to declare italics and different weights with some fonts decreases the download size, it adds an extra burden to either the designer or the programmer

  • custom fonts, used tastefully, look beautiful

  • One thing I've noticed is that most web fonts I've encountered (e.g. all of the Google Font API ones or the demo fonts on TypeKit) don't render using ClearType or any other kind of antialiasing in IE or FF and probably other browsers as well. This actually makes web fonts far less desirable from a purely aesthetic standpoint than web-safe fonts or rasterized images. Aug 28 '10 at 10:55
  • Fonts are looking nicely anti-aliasing with ClearType turned on here - but goes to pot when you use a Text Shadows/Filters.
    – Metalshark
    Aug 28 '10 at 11:12
  • Interesting. What OS/browser are you using? And I assume you mean the Google Font API fonts? I'm using ClearType on XP64 with FF3. And both the Google and TypeKit fonts look unAAed. However, I just opened up Opera and the TypeKit samples look great, but Google Font API looks as bad as in FF. Aug 28 '10 at 12:11
  • Windows 7 64-bit with FF 3.6, IE 7, 8, 9 (using IE Tester) - Text Shadow seems to be the only thing disturbing AA. Fonts checked are Lobster and Reenie Beanie.
    – Metalshark
    Aug 31 '10 at 5:10
  • Perhaps it's an XP 64 problem then. I'll have to test these fonts out on the Windows 7 and OS X machines at work. The last I recall, the fonts on Typekit looked good (I didn't know about Google Font API back then), but when I tried converting Myriad myself using WEFT (microsoft.com/typography/web/embedding/weft3/download.aspx) or Font Squirrel, it looked unAAed in both FF and IE on Windows 7. Sep 2 '10 at 0:20

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