Adobe open sources Blank font
Ken Lunde of the Adobe Type team has announced that the company has open sourced a special purpose font that is designed to be used as a place holder before an appropriate web font can be loaded. Adobe Blank is, as the name suggests, a font made up entirely of blank characters. All Unicode code points are rendered using a non-spacing, non-marking glyph – essentially rendering invisible characters.
Developers can use Adobe Blank "to overcome a limitation in CSS", as Lunde puts it. By including Adobe Blank in addition to a web font in a CSS file and rendering it in an element off-screen, developers can use the width of the off-screen element to determine if the web font has been loaded or not. Adobe Blank can also be used as a temporary stop-gap measure to prevent operating system level font fallback being activated while the browser waits for web fonts to be loaded. This avoids a temporary flash of ugly default fonts for visitors if the web fonts resource is slow at loading the actual files. In the announcement, Lunde says he is interested to hear about other use cases for this very specialised font, if developers can think of any.
To cover all 1,111,998 Unicode code points, Adobe Blank includes 257 functional glyphs mapped to these code points and was built as part of the company's Adobe-Identity-0 ROS font resource. The font is released under the SIL Open Font License 1.1 and can be downloaded from SourceForge.