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Tuesday 25 January 2022
In my quest to create a decentralized ecosystem for selling fonts, I’m excited to announce the next link in the chain: Type.World Sign-In.
It makes the existing Type.World user accounts accessible to third parties such as independent type foundries. The idea is to improve the font shopping experience at independent retailers insofar as users wouldn’t have to sign up for yet another user account, which is time consuming and annoying to most people, especially when entering address data is involved. Obviously, a new account needs to be created once, with benefits multiplying as Type.World adoption rate grows.
Similar to existing sign-in services such as Google, Apple, Github, etc, existing Type.World users would benefit from a vastly improved user experience when using the their Type.World account to log in with a font retailer. The service not only enhances the purchase experience, but also the subsequent font installation experience via the Type.World App, because the Sign-In eliminates the required additional step of manually onboarding the user’s Type.World account with the publisher for inviting that user to the new font subscription.
Signing in with Type.World Sign-In and making fonts availabe for installation through the Type.World App becomes one and the same process. The video above illustrates the process powerfully. What’s happening under the hood here is that once a user has completed the purchase, the publisher notifies the central Type.World server of the subscription change and invites the user, identified by their anonymous user ID that came with the data made available by the Sign-In service, to load that subscription in their Type.World app.
As usual, this is a paid service for publishers at competitive rates. Even though I would love to make something like this available for free, that would put the project at financial risk if the service gets adopted by a large website.
In line with the open-source spirit of Type.World, in the authorization step of the Sign-In procedure, users are presented (behind a button) with the precise raw data that Type.World makes available to the third party service. Of course users can revoke this authorization later through their Type.World user accounts. Type.World Sign-In is token-based and fully OAuth 2-compliant.
The Sign-In service complements the usage of the Type.World app excellently, with the two technologies converging in a very powerful way. When did you last buy a font and were able to use it in your apps only 10 seconds later? Not saying that speed is everything. But it comes with the bonus of not ever having to handle the fonts in terms of storage location, installation, backup and recovery etc. Once you’re using the Type.World app, you can forget about everything except your account login.
The reason I’m publishing the Sign-In service now before the font hosting service that I announced previously is because that hosting service will depend solely on Type.World user accounts.
Please read the developer documentation at type.world/developer/docs/signin
Please note that you don’t need to use Type.World user accounts for authentication on your website in order to have your customers use Type.World for font installation. You can still invite users to install your fonts using their email address for identification, or simply by offering a button on your website that will open the app, if installed.
In the wake of creating Type.World Sign-In, I also created an imaginary type foundry website with a fake online shop that utilizes the Sign-In as well as font installation through the app. Please hop over to awesomefonts.appspot.com to fake-buy a few fonts and see the system play out for yourself. (Source code here)
For setting up Awesome Fonts, I implemented for the first time all my own recommendations for how to set up an API Endpoint under the Type.World JSON Protocol. Naturally, I found a few mistakes and omissions both in the central Type.World server as well as in the Dummy Flask Server that I corrected. In case you got frustrated playing with the code at some point in the past, you may want to try again now.
While it may seem obvious to offer Type.World accounts as a sign-in service, I didn’t always have that idea. I believe that I first heard it in Berlin from Jens Kutilek in a chat during the presentation I gave about Type.World at LucasFonts. So the credit to round off the decentralized font shopping experience with user accounts goes to Jens.
By the way, Type.World’s the server costs are clocking in at around 100€/month currently with no measurable income as no one has adopted Type.World yet. The current Patreon donations are idling at a meagre $37/month.
If you feel like supporting the creation of open source software and a project aimed at improving the font industry for everyone, please pledge a monthly support on my Patreon page.