Google just launched a font directory and a font API that will make it easier for web developers and publishers to use high-quality open source fonts on their sites. Good typography on the web is still in its infancy, but Google wants to make it easier for developers to use a wider variety of fonts on the Web that go beyond the standard set of “web-safe” fonts that come pre-installed on most modern computers.

The Google Font API uses Google’s infrastructure to automatically convert a font into the right format for whatever browser the user is using. According to Google, these fonts also work well with CSS3 and HTML5 styling.

WebFont Loader

Google also worked with Typekit to develop an open source WebFont Loader, a JavaScript library that allows developers to easily integrate Web fonts into their Web products. Today, different browsers tend to treat web fonts very differently. As Google notes, Firefox, for example, will load a page and display the fallback font until the Web font is loaded. Chrome and Safari, on the other hand, won’t display any text until the font is fully downloaded and Internet Explorer “sometimes won’t render any content at all until the web font is available.” This even works for older browsers like Microsoft’s Internet Explorer 6. Developers can use the WebFont loader to access fonts from Google, as well as from Typekit and other vendors.

Google’s font directory currently features 18 fonts (some with multiple variants), including the popular Droid fonts. For now, Google is only supporting Western European languages, but the company expects to offer support for a more diverse set of languages soon.