4 Replies Latest reply on Nov 10, 2015 7:55 AM by DEC

    Beware the Calibri Font?


      Hi Everyone,


      Wondering if anyone can confirm whether the Calibri font has indeed been stripped from the installation of Microsoft Office and other products.  If true, it seems to me that this may potentially impact Filemaker developers in a fairly major way.


      I found this article indicating that with the advent of Microsoft Office 2016 for the Mac, Microsoft has decided to "embed" the Calibri font inside the Office application itself, and abandoned the notion of installing the font on the user's computer (see Font Management | OfficeforMacHelp.com). 


      If true, this means that this font is no longer freely available to use with anything other than Microsoft Office files for which the font is thus embedded.  If you wish to legally use the font for other purposes (such as in Filemaker or other software development or graphic design), you must on a going-forward basis purchase and install the font (available for $129 for 5 seats from fonts.com).


      I first discovered this issue when I went to open one of my Filemaker solutions after installing Office 2016 on a brand new Apple laptop a few days ago, and found that the reports within the Filemaker solution looked different.  Upon inspection, I learned that the layouts within the Filemaker solution where Calibri was featured all automatically defaulted to the Helvetica font.  It took me a while to discover that the Calibri font didn't exist on that computer, after which I switched all of the fonts to the less attractive (though more reliable) Arial font.  Those solutions for which I employed the newly-established Themes capability of Filemaker will be easier to amend.


      If the above is true, I feel it's a huge story that needs to be shared with software developers and web/graphic designers and other professionals worldwide.  The popularity of the Calibri font is quite huge.  It's an attractive and award-winning font.  Among other things, Calibri is the font recommended by the American Bar Association's "Manual of Style for Contract Drafting."  For those who use word processors and graphic design tools other than Microsoft Word, they perhaps awoke to a very nasty surprise on the morning they first opened their files featuring Calibri on a new computer.  Imagine thousands of documents and files and webpage designs for which the layout is suddenly thrown off.  Many of the authors and designers of these items have little practical choice but to purchase and install the font, or "steal" it from the contents folder of the application.  And that notion doesn't help Filemaker developers who have hundreds or even thousands of client users; it's not practical to advise that many folks that they'll now have to purchase and install Calibri when they move to a new computer.


      Caliber is an attractive font that I've for some time used to decorate the reports in several of the solutions I've licensed to clients.  I'm now facing a scenario where I've got to return to them and modify their solutions.  The notion will at the very least subtract from their confidence in me... and justifiably so, I'm very ashamed to admit.


      Assuming this is what happened, I don't know why Microsoft decided to do this.  It could be because they aren't the owners of the font and were forced to do it.  It could be because they wanted to purposefully derail the endeavors of folks who deign to use anything other than Microsoft products in their lives.  It could be because they had no idea of the potential impact on others.  But I'd think that to the extent this has happened and isn't easily resolved, it should seemingly be front page news among designers and developers of all kinds.  And I certainly wanted to notify the Filemaker community so that others won't fall to the same fate that I did with the implementation of Calibri, again assuming all of this is true.


      Perhaps be a good idea for Filemaker to consider similarly embedding its own fonts (or licensed fonts) into the Filemaker application so as to offer to Filemaker developers an option to easily avoid issues such as this.  Among other things, this would reliably enable the design of more attractive Filemaker Go layouts, though this would potentially create an issue for folks who access Filemaker via a web browser where those embedded Filemaker fonts aren't installed on that user's computer.  This isn't to say that it's the responsibility of Filemaker to cover this issue, as developers and graphic designers worldwide should certainly undertake a reasonably thorough study of fonts and their history before embedding fonts into their software and designs.  But I'd certainly rest assured if I could select from a reliable menu of embedded Filemaker fonts.


      Any confirmation or recommendations would be much appreciated...



        • 1. Re: Beware the Calibri Font?

          Looking at my Office 2016 for Mac installation, it looks like all of the fonts are installed within each of the Office apps. Though they are also installed in my /Library/Fonts/Microsoft folder, I think those are left over from an earlier Office installation. I think it's more likely that Microsoft did this so that people could not manually remove these fonts, as I often did, and they would always be available within their apps. Whether other apps can use them is probably not a concern for them.


          I can't advise on how "legal" this is, but on a practical level, this is remedied (if you have access to your users' systems, and at least one of those systems is a Mac) by copying the fonts out of [any Office app]/Contents/Resources/Fonts and into one of the system/user Fonts folders. To access these folders, right-click on the app icon and select "Show Package Contents."


          (Also, another big factor likely driving this decision is that increasingly MS is making these apps available via subscription, which means that when/if the subscription expires and the app is disabled, the fonts that come with the app can easily be disabled as well.)

          • 2. Re: Beware the Calibri Font?

            Yours is an interesting and welcome thought on the notion of the "why" of it all, Marc.  Many thanks for your input, and for confirming what I was hoping wasn't true.  Your explanation for why they did it could be exactly what happened.  If true, I'd have to condemn their action as a blatant disregard for the potential impact on their users. 


            Though its not an easy thing to do, the Apple OS doesn't prohibit its users from changing its system font (see How to Change the Default System Font in OS X El Capitan to Lucida Grande).   Also, the Apple OS system font "San Francisco" isn't visible in the OS X Font Book App so as to make it easily removable from the computer, which indicates they never meant to make it available to users outside of the Apple OS in the first place (see I Left My System Fonts in San Francisco • furbo.org).  Microsoft, on the other hand, made the Calibri font available to world and then took it away.


            As for the legality of copying the font from the "Show Package Contents," I believe you're 100% correct to raise the notion of its questionable legality.  I'm a lawyer, but not that kind of lawyer. I'd hazard a guess that the issue is somewhere addressed (indirectly or expressly) in the Microsoft EULA.  But even if it were legal, it's not practical for me to advise my clients to tell their employees (hundreds in number) to take the action of grabbing the font from "Show Package Contents."  Better for me to swap out the font and undertake a deeper study of the extent to which I can rely on the implementation of fonts in my Filemaker solutions.


            Thanks again...

            • 3. Re: Beware the Calibri Font?

              Though I am the last person anyone would call a Microsoft sympathizer, I can see their point in doing this. It's unfortunate that these fonts which were cross-platform essentially by default can no longer be relied on as such, but on both Windows and Mac, they are providing these fonts for users of their software, nothing more or less. It just happens that in the Windows environment, their software includes the OS itself, so you're always using their software.


              The only other company I know of that provides fonts for system-wide use with their software is Adobe, but in their case, they own/license those fonts for sale to end users, so they can give them away all they want. Any lost revenue is theirs alone.


              To me, the real solution to this is for FileMaker to enable embedding fonts in their database files, preferably at the theme level and using Web Fonts. That would open up so many more possibilities for developers that whatever Microsoft does or doesn't do would be irrelevant. I don't know if anyone has posted that to the Product Ideas forum yet, but if so, they've got my vote.

              • 4. Re: Beware the Calibri Font?

                I learned that the Calibri font, originally designed by Lucas De Groot (LucasFonts | Home) seems to have been licensed by Lucas to Microsoft, which apparently owns and controls the ultimate license to it.  You can purchase it and download it for personal and "internal" biz use from the various font websites, but it seems that for a commercial license for use by developers (such as Filemaker developers) one must license the font directly from here: Calibri


                As you can see from the attached screenshot, a basic Calibri font set (regular, bold, italic and bold italic) for 1 "core" server use is around USD$2,000.  I'll have to get more info from the licensor (Microsoft?) in order to confirm how the notion of a "core" license may apply to a Filemaker developer.  I'll circle back with more info if I do.


                Screen Shot 2015-11-10 at 7.55.09 AM.png