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In our 2nd Rails Rumble, we tried to be more productivity oriented than last time. Awesome Fontstacks is what we came up with.

What’s the idea?

Everyone is excited about the new possibilities in web typography coming with CSS 3 and web fonts – and rightly so.

At the same time, everyone is annoyed by the tedious work of matching and adjusting web fonts, let alone writing CSS code for this purpose.

While we are, as everyone is, glad about Typekit, Google Web Fonts and the like, we decided to try a different take on the subject:

Automatically match fonts based on typographical metrics, optimize the font bundles for their intended purpose, and deliver rock solid CSS for those fonts and their fallbacks to copy & paste.

Brought to you by:

  • enebo Thorsten Böttger
    Grumpy freelancer, from Hamburg, Germany, Rails developer, father of five, and coffee-lover.
  • halfbyte Jan Krutisch
    Code spewing, hammering and soldering general-purpose action geek.
  • theflow Florian Munz
    Devops personified. Moved to Copenhagen to make more exciting things.
  • wowo101 Wolfgang Wopperer
    Idea junkie and mindmatters co-founder from Hamburg. Responsible for basic idea and design.
  • Mindmatters logo Kindly providing hosting, office space, coffee and general awesomeness.

But … how?

When matching fonts, the human eye still is the most important factor, since matching designs can be a highly subjective process.

There are a few key metrics that at least guarantee a basic form of matching. Doing this right is hard, though, and we are constantly working on better font analysis and matching algorithms. First in the 48h of the 2010 Rails Rumble, and since then in our spare time and during regular coding sprints.

We’re not entirely sure if we reached our lofty goals yet. Here’s what we attempted: We basically look at two key metrics, namely differences in aspect ratios and relative letter width. These are being complemented by a couple of additional measures and heuristics that feed our constantly evolving algorithms.

Since font vendors all are a bit lazy with their metrics, we have recvently developed our own font measuring equipment to assure we’re not comparing Arials to Helveticas. Additionally, we classify fonts by hand into various groups like serif, sans-serif, monospaced etc.

We hope you enjoy the results our ongoing experiment – and save a lot of hassle by using Awesome Fontstacks! Send us your feedback, find us on Twitter or read more news at our blog!