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WEFT 3 Overview


Font support in Web pages

Microsoft pioneered font support in Web pages by including support for the FONT FACE tag in the very first version of Internet Explorer released in 1995. IE versions 3, 4 and 5 built on this support by including support for parts of the W3C's Cascading Style Sheet 'CSS' standard. CSS gives Web site designers greater control over font specification and substitution.

Although these methods of specifying fonts within Web pages provide Web page designers with a high level of typographic control, they rely on the specified fonts being installed on a reader's computer. WEFT removes this limitation. WEFT is a stand alone tool that lets Web page designers create embedded fonts that can be used when displaying their Web pages.


What is font embedding for Web pages?

The Web Embedding Font Tool (WEFT) lets Web authors create 'font objects' that are linked to their Web pages so that when an Internet Explorer user views the pages they'll see them displayed in the font style contained within the font object.

screen capture

Figure 1. A screen capture of a Web page viewed in Internet Explorer. The page links to a number of font objects that are downloaded, cached, temporarily and privately installed and then used to render the text on the page.


What if the page visitor isn't using IE?

Depending on the browser used and the fonts installed, they will see text displayed in either the second choice font specified by the page or their default font.

screen capture

Figure 2. The same page viewed in a browser that doesn't support embedded fonts. Note that the text is displayed in the designer's second choice font (Comic Sans MS).


What does WEFT do?

The WEFT tool includes various features and options to help you create font objects and link them to your Web pages and sites. At the center of the tool is the 'WEFT wizard'.


WEFT wizard

The WEFT wizard takes all the hard work out of creating font objects and linking them to your Web pages.

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The first screen of the WEFT wizard.

Point the WEFT wizard at your site and it will analyze each page, building an accurate picture of their font usage. The tool will then create compressed font objects containing the required characters. Finally the wizard adds code to your pages linking the font objects to them.

The font objects created by WEFT differ from traditional font files in a number of ways. The font objects are compressed and are usually subsetted so that they only contain the characters used by a particular site or page. This means that font object file sizes are much smaller than those of ordinary TrueType or PostScript font files.

The following pages describe the WEFT wizard, additional functions and explain ways in which you can customize the tool's behavior.


A brief history of WEFT

In 1997, Microsoft released a public preview version of WEFT to coincide with the launch of Microsoft Internet Explorer 4. Since its release, WEFT has been downloaded by hundreds of thousands of Web page designers. The first beta version of WEFT 3 was made available in April 2000 via the Microsoft WEFT community site, an MSN Web community site set up to support and promote WEFT. That community has since been retired. A new community is being hosted by Fontlab.

The WEFT tool has not been updated in several years, but it still works and many are still using it.



this page was last updated 12 June 2009.

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