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Late to the party — sorry about that. I’m glad this is such a healthy conversation. There are a couple points I’d like to add.
First, one of things that the web does really well is enable groups of people to solve problems publicly and transparently. The open source movement is based entirely on the principle that “given enough eyeballs, all bugs are shallow.” And isn’t that what we’re doing now?
At first, there was concern over putting “raw” fonts on web servers. So people attacked that problem by proposing new font formats like WOFF in public fora like the W3C mailing lists.
Then, developers struggled to find a way to serve all of their audience, regardless of browser. So we experimented with bulletproofing our CSS out in the open, in blog posts and message boards.
Now it’s screen rendering. Next, it will be the performance implications of downloading fonts with international character sets. After that? Maybe inconsistent browser support of kerning metrics, ligatures, or other Open Type Metrics.
It’s going to be a long road. The fastest way down it is sharing what we know as widely as possible and standing on each other’s shoulders, rather than toiling away in secret trying to find the perfect solution.
To that end, we’ve been developing a lot of internal tools for measuring and evaluating rendering performance across browsers, operating systems, and rendering environments. And we’re going to make them public as soon as we can, starting in the new year.