Extensis (http://www.extensis.com), a division of Celartem, has begun testing a new web font service that enables commercial web designers to incorporate custom fonts into web sites.
For years, web designers have been very limited in how they can use typography on the web, says Celartem CEO Osamu Ikeda. Previously, font use on the Web was limited to the few standard fonts installed on a reader’s machine, he adds. For typographic flexibility, designers most often have resorted to static text images in their designs. But the tradeoff was steep: this text was not easily updated, and could not be indexed or searched.
Due to recent technology improvements, web browsers now support the use of custom fonts on websites (via @font-face tags). The challenge is that different browsers support different web font formats, and font vendor licenses generally don’t allow users to simply put fonts loose on a web server, because of concerns about piracy. This is where Extensis comes in, says Ikeda.
Adesigner chooses their preferred typeface from the Extensis service, which then generates the necessary CSS to be placed into their web code. Now any visitor to their web site is instantaneously “delivered” the chosen fonts — in the correct format for their browser, from a more secure Extensis server.

Extensis recently launched an invitation-only technology preview for over 100 web design experts and typography industry thought-leaders. The number of technology preview participants will continue to expand over the spring as testing continues. More information about the new web font technology will be released in the coming months.