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WebFonts Working Group Announces WOFF 2.0 File Format

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The WebFonts Working Group has published WOFF 2.0 as a W3C recommendation. According to the WOFF 2.0 Evaluation Report, the new specification provides improved compression and decompression compared to WOFF 1.0. This is achieved by combining a content-aware preprocessing step and improved entropy coding.

The preprocessing step removes redundant or duplicate information or any other information that can be deduced from other items of data also present. Compared to WOFF 1.0, compression gains are around 20 to 26 percent for TrueType and 12 to 13 percent for CFF.

What is WOFF?

WOFF is an acronym that stands for “Web Open Font Format.” Web Open Font Format is an open format used to display fonts on the web. Anyone can design, convert fonts, save or convert them to WOFF and use HTML, CSS or SVG to tell browsers which fonts to download and apply.

In fact, WOFF is a wrapper (@font-face) that contains TrueType and OpenType specifications, including variable fonts, chromatic fonts, and font collections, compressed using a WOFF encoding tool to enable them to be embedded in a website.

The main advantages are:

  • Typography friendly: Because any font can be converted to WOFF, typography is only limited to a designer’s imagination and skill. In addition, the WOFF format contains typographical information like contextual forms and old-style figures.
  • Inclusive: WOFF is an accessibility-friendly format, so it plays well with assistive technologies.
  • Universal: The format supports fonts with characters from various languages.
  • Smaller footprint: Because WOFF fonts are compressed, websites load faster.
  • Creative freedom: Virtually any font can be converted to WOFF, as long as the font license allows it.
  • Interoperability: The specification is supported in most modern browsers.

The WOFF format earned the support of many type foundries as it also allows the inclusion of license data within the font file to address copyright issues.

WOFF Browser Support

WOFF 2.0 browser support

The font format is supported by all modern desktop and mobile web browsers. An exception is Opera Mini; however, the lack of support is the result of the specific technology that Opera Mini uses to deliver compressed web pages. Also, while Safari supports the specifications, full support is available only to users of the latest Mac OS release, Sierra.

If you want more, have a look at the specification document and the evaluation report. It’s an interesting read.

Doru Ciobanu

Doru is an old BMW lover with a big heart.

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