Many people went to a font download site and grabbed some strange looking letters and installed them on their computer. They then created pages using that font. The pages looked great until someone else tried to look at it. Since the second person didn't have the font installed on their computer - the text was plain.
You may have seen pages that offer fonts as downloads so the pages can be viewed correctly. That's much the same as suggesting a screen resolution different than current settings. Few, if any, people actually stop, change the screen settings and then reenter the page. Same thing with the font. Very few downloaded and then installed the font.
But what if you could offer the font behind the scene? What if the font was simply a file that would download right along with everything else? Then the text would display correctly on all computers. With some exceptions, you can.
Dynamic fonts are font style files that download right along with the page that will use them. Think of them as an image....that's the basic concept.
When you use these fonts, the font file will download into your cache just like an image. Once there, as long as you don't clear your cache completely, the font will be there for all future visits. It is fun to watch the page the first time you use these fonts. The page will come in fully with the text in the default format. Then, once the font, or fonts, download, the entire page reloads and comes to life. It's a great effect.
The use of these fonts is basically a Netscape Navigator 4.0 or better deal. However, you can also view the fonts using MSIE 4.0 and above if you also include, along with the font, an Active X helper application.
Before you surf out to your local font download site, remember that nothing on the Web is quite as easy as it sounds at first. Yes, you can use a dynamic font, but only a certain type of dynamic font. The font has to be in a format known as Portable Font Resource, or PFR. You'll know a font is in that format because the extension will be "pfr".
"Where do I find pfr fonts?" There are a few places, but not a lot. Here are some that are helpful:
http://www.truedoc.com: This is the Big Mama of everything for these fonts. They have downloads, help files and more info than you probably care to read.
Bitstream World of Fonts: Good site, but the fonts are pay-fors.
Free Fonts: Downloadable fonts.
1001 Free Fonts: Downloadable fonts.
The majority of the fonts were made available as long as you always had the font grabbed from the server offering them. It's easy to download the font and run it from your own server, but these people are nice enough to offer these fonts, you should do what they ask. The effect is the same as if you were running it from your own server.
How do I make my own fonts? You will have to grab a program specifically set to create fonts. A couple of the shareware programs did not have the ability to save in pfr format. If you have a pay-for program that will create fonts, check to see if it has the ability to save in pfr. If not, the people at http://www.truedoc.com suggest HexMac Typograph and Extensis BeyondPress.
If you do make your own fonts, here are the letters you must create:
In order to use a font, you need to grab it and download it into your browser's cache. You do that through LINK flags set in the document's HEAD flags. The flags look like this:
<LINK REL="FONTDEF" SRC="http://www.truedoc.com/pfrs/Amelia.pfr">
Notice that each font is being grabbed from the TrueDoc server, as they asked. If you use a font that is coming right from your own server, there is no need for the full URL.
Take a look:
LINK sets up a link to something
REL is the relation of the link to the document
FONTDEF tells the document this is a font definition
SRC tells the browser where to get the font
The URL is the path
Very Important! The names of fonts are case sensitive. Big letters have to stay big.
What about this:
Remember that in order for this to work on MSIE, you would need an Active X program. Active X is 68K and it has to be offered if MSIE users are to get in the game. By doing it this way, you are basically completing a step for the user. Microsoft offers a plug in of their own at their MSIE page. You can go grab it and install it if you'd like. However, doing it this way finishes the process for the user. They will be asked if they wish to download the Active X helper. That means a gray dialogue box pops up that often scares people, but there's no getting around it.
Lots of fonts that are available for free download.
1001 Free Fonts
Guidelines in Designing with Fonts
Daniel Will-Harris discusses how to choose an appropriate font. Typeface tutorial. Fonts that go well with other fonts. Also some free fonts at Esperfonto.