Google Fonts API - time to Drupal market - one day
by Robert Douglass
When Google announced their new Font API and Font Directory, they gave the web publishing world a great new tool that is ready to add real business value right now. The directory is a bid to close the gap between the rich visual possibilities of print media and the typographically impoverished World Wide Web. In Google's words:
"The Google Font API provides a simple, cross-browser method for using any font in the Google Font Directory on your web page. The fonts have all the advantages of normal text: in addition to being richer visually, text styled in web fonts is still searchable, scales crisply when zoomed, and is accessible to users using screen readers."
Great! When can we have it? Google announced their API and directory on May 19, 2010. On Thursday, May 20, 2010, a Drupal module was released that gives you all the tools you need to display Google Fonts on your Drupal website. Time to market - one day. In the first week after its release, the module has already been installed on over 50 websites, kick-starting the virtuous cycle of testing and feedback that is the hallmark of open source software. Four tickets have been opened in the issue queue, including one bug report that has now been fixed, and a feature request. As people report problems and submit patches to improve the software, the astonishing time to market for the initial module will be followed with an ongoing agile product development cycle where anyone can fix or improve the existing code, and share it with the entire world.
This is a market advantage that is unique to open source software, and is one of the reasons that proprietary systems cannot hope to compete with open source in the long run. I'd be willing to bet that the leading proprietary CMS and social publishing systems don't have Google Fonts on their radar yet. At most they have a footnote in their weekly planning meetings to watch and see if it becomes a viable and interesting feature, and to check up on it in 3, 6, or 12 months time. They probably haven't decided yet to allocate programming resources to it. I challenge you to go search the sites of proprietary vendors - how fast are they able to support important changes on the web?
Acquia regularly takes advantage of the open source advantage, and takes part in contributing back where we can. For example, Drupal Gardens now comes with Typekit integration which allows you to choose beautiful fonts for your Gardens website. Of course there is a Typekit module on Drupal.org.
The lesson here is clear: you can move at web speed by using open source tools. Stop waiting for your proprietary vendor to add it to their product, Drupal lets you use tools like Google Fonts today.