Yeah, but then go to the bottom of that page and click the link at "Join the discussion in the TidBITS Discourse forum". In Safari that returns a black box instead of — at least at the top of the page. The tab title shows correctly.
I think some fonts do not have the Apple character. Is it possible Discourse is forcing Safari to use one of those? Or that that system won’t display characters in the Unicode Private Use area (Apple is at U+F8FF)?
On tidbits.com, the heading’s font is proximanova-condensed with Helvetica as a fallback. On talk.tidbits.com, the heading is Arial, with only the keyword sans-serif as a fallback. The version of the Arial font in macOS seems to lack the Apple character but whatever Safari uses as the sans-serif font does have it.
My hunch is the other browsers detect there’s no glyph at the Apple character codepoint in Arial and use one from the sans-serif font instead. On tidbits.com, that’s not necessary because proximanova has the glyph.
Maybe you can the font-family on Discourse to have something other than Arial as the preferred font. I don’t know if Discourse has a supported method for overriding its defaults (it looks like it does); it uses custom variables stored in color_definitions.scss that gets turned into a .css file by a build step; if there’s not a GUI for Discourse administrators to set the font-family(s), maybe it supports a “custom.css” or something that’s meant for local overrides.
Ah, thanks for the nudge! I looked and Discourse has default and default headline fonts, both of which were set to Arial. I switched to Helvetica, and now the apple character is showing in Safari. Hopefully it’s not too different otherwise—it didn’t stand out to me as a problematic change.
As you can see (on rows 60 and 70), the position of the Apple glyph is the UTF-8 sequence ef a3 bf, which decodes to the Unicode code-point f8ff.
So it’s definitely a case of the chosen font not having that character.
I find it rather surprising that Safari doesn’t perform font substitution the way other browsers do. I thought that was pretty much universal these days - if the selected font doesn’t have the required glyph, automatically select a different font that does have it.
And I’m also a bit surprised that Arial doesn’t have that. I would have expected Apple to make sure that all their bundled fonts include that character.
I just checked on my (Sonoma) Mac and Arial is stored in /System/Library/Fonts/Supplemental/Arial.ttf, so this is an Apple-bundled font, not one from a third-party (like Microsoft).
FWIW, Helvetica is in /System/Library/Fonts/Helvetica.ttc. And I see that it has an Apple copyright alongside the Linotype copyright. So maybe that’s the difference - Arial only has a Monotype copyright and it’s in the “Supplemental” directory. It would appear that Apple has contracted for a customized Helvetica but they are just bundling a stock/licensed Arial.
Helvetica is better than Arial anyway. I will be entertaining no responses at this time.
As Tom mentioned, U+F8FF is in the Private Use Area (PUA), I’m sure Safari does substitution in other areas. I think it’s implicit, if not explicit, that when you use the PUA that you ensure a font with the intended glyph is available. A fallback font could have a different glyph at that codepoint so Apple’s decision is reasonable, no glyph is better than the wrong glyph. Chrome and Firefox are taking a chance but it may be that in practice their gamble pays off more often than not; it’s also possible that they handle U+F8FF differently just because it’s often used for the Apple.
I agree 1,000,000%. Helvetica manages resizing as well as weights easily and beautifully. You tend to see Helvetica in street and highway and street signs. film, magazine, newspaper and TV titling, as well as on packaging for food and pharmaceutical drugs, etc., etc., etc. for this reason.
There are also many, many, many more variants of Helvetica. There’s a good analysis here:
Not even close. There’s nothing wrong with Comic Sans as a font when used appropriately. The problem with Comic Sans is that people treat it as a general-purpose font instead of the specialty display font it was designed to be.
Arial, on the other hand, is a poorly designed Helvetica knock-off with no elegance or character. It’s ugly and hard on the eyes. Arial should never be used in any context, especially if Helvetica is available.
This is true, but there are so many issues that are problematic, including almost nonexistent kerning; everything has the same thickness. Comic Sans’s letters in body copy sucks, mostly because of the kerning problem. But most of the letters just don’t look well together, which makes copy in Comic Sans harder to read, and it makes content in most instances just plain old ugly, confusing, and dorky looking.
There are so many millions of fonts out there, including many freebies, that work better with reading or spoken content. Comic Sans does work well in some instances, especially cartoons, games, invitations, etc.