Possible in Today’s Web

Without installing anything new, 90% of today’s desktop browsers can now do pretty much anything you can imagine with text layout. The same typographic capabilities will become possible in next year’s generation of mobile devices, too.

Tom Barclay, Flash product manager: “Text Layout Framework is an extensible ActionScript library that runs on the new text engine in Flash Player 10 and AIR 1.5. Leveraging the publishing expertise of the Adobe InDesign team, Text Layout Framework offers a level of typographic control and sophistication that goes well beyond what can be done with HTML and CSS.”

Features include right-to-left scripts (Hebrew, Arabic, Urdu, more)… vertical scripts (Japanese, Chinese)… font-embedding of world scripts… print-worthy typography: “kerning, ligatures, typographic case, digit case (oldstyle/lining figures), digit width (proportional/tabular figures)”… graphics nestled within live paragraphs… multi-column flow of text, arbitrary rotation, discretionary hyphenation, many other typographic necessities… text is described as external XML files. Rendered by Adobe Flash Player 10 and above.

Right now it’s just a beta API within the Flex 4 Framework, with an interface like this. One application of this API to content creation is in a Flash CS4 component.

There’s lots of room to grow — lots of other ways people will want to access precise layout. It’s easy to create a SWF, many authoring interfaces are possible.

Projects based on this may help with standard markup languages such as MathML and OpenMath… maybe even markup languages like MusicXML, rendering predictably across browsers, without installing anything new. Sort of a PostScript for the Web.

Resources: Release NoteswikiVeronique Brossier…. Mihai Corlan… info on Flex governanceweblog.

This capability is just sitting out there, in the world’s browsers, today. It’s waiting… waiting for us to learn how to use it.