Playpen #6 – sIFR Headlines

I’ve been meaning to experiment with sIFR headline styling ever since hearing Dave Shea’s Fine Typography On The Web piece during the @media 2006 conference. I’ve finally got a demo going at playpen #6.

What does sIFR mean?
sIFR stands for Scalable Inline Flash Replacement, and is an unobtrusive JavaScript/Flash solution for providing lovely fonts on your site (eg for headlines) whilst still remaining accessible, and not relying on that font being installed on a user’s machine. Read more about the techniqute by visitng the official sIFR Wiki/Documentation site. H1 and H2 headings are best restyled using sIFR, rather than large bodies of text. If a browser does not have JavaScript enabled, the headlines will just be styled by the regular CSS definitions, so it degrades gracefully.

Why Bother?
There are several techniques for image replacement. The Gilder/Levin method is one such (see Dave Shea’s article which explains some of the others too). Gilder/Levin is recognised as one of the best from an accessibility standpoint. But the down side, is that you have to manually generate each graphic used to replace your text, plus add a specific CSS rule for each in your stylesheet. That’s all very well if you have a smallish, static site, and not many headings to replace. But what about database-driven sites and blogs, where you don’t know in advance what the text will be which needs replacing? The only practical way to go is sIFR under these circumstances.

Where Can I Get It?
More information and a download for the code can be found at Mike Davidson’s sIFR page.

Where Is It Used?
Keep an eye out for any sites which use unusual typography for headings or recurrent elements. If this is a database-driven site (such as ecommerce or blog), the chances are, sIFR will be the method that’s used. Two likely candidates off the top of my head are:

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