Scalable Inman Flash Replacement

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Scalable Inman Flash Replacement (sIFR) is an open source JavaScript and Adobe Flash dynamic web fonts implementation, enabling the replacement of text elements on HTML web pages with Flash equivalents. It was initially developed by Shaun Inman and improved by Mike Davidson and Mark Wubben.


[edit] Overview

Whereas standard HTML and CSS do allow a webpage author to assign any font of their choice to a text element, there is no guarantee that the element will show as intended as the browsing user may or may not have the specified font installed in their system. sIFR on the other hand allows website headings, pull-quotes and other elements to be styled in any font by enabling the designer to embed the font of their choice in a Flash element that displays the text. As a result the font used does not have to be installed on the user machine.

A common technique is to use raster graphics to display text in a font that cannot be trusted to be available on most computers. There are a few restrictions however. Text created this way pixelates when scaled, is difficult to generate on-the-fly, and cannot be partially selected. In contrast, sIFR text elements mimic HTML projected text – they are paintable and copyable.

sIFR requires JavaScript to be enabled and the Flash plugin installed in the reading browser. If either condition is not met, the reader's browser will automatically display traditional CSS based styling instead of the sIFR rendering. sIFR is not designed for body copy text as rendering greater bodies of text with Flash place formidable demands on the computer. Due to this restriction, Mike Davidson himself admits that[1]

While sIFR gives us better typography today, it is clearly not the solution for the next 20 years.

sIFR is used on a variety of well-known web pages; GE, Nike and Red Hat, to name but a few. As of December 2008, the current sIFR release is version 2.0.7. Version 3 is in beta.[2]

[edit] Criticism

Although accessibility can be preserved using this technique, users should be aware that sIFR affects page loading time (from the multiple requests required for the Flash, JavaScript and CSS files used by sIFR). Also, the growing popularity of browser ad blocker plugins may decorate Flash content with a "block" button and thereby obscure the text.

[edit] Alternatives

FLIR is a similar software to sIFR. But instead of using flash, it embeds plain images, that are generated automatically from the text on the webpage. So even if user does not have flash plugin installed, he will see the text replaced by FLIR. However, FLIR requires that the website host is capable of running PHP.

[edit] Sources

  1. ^ "Type online". (Oct. 2005). Computer Arts Projects, p. 64.
  2. ^ Wubben, Mark. "sIFR Documentation & FAQ". Retrieved on 2007-07-20. 

[edit] See also

[edit] External links

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