The native maptext functionality recently added is great, except it requires ttf fonts to work. Vectorized fonts aren't something that's very popular in 2D gaming (not to mention they are incredibly difficult to create). In fact, a lot of the development teams I've spoken with outside of byond have expressed they ALL use bitmap fonts. That is, they have a font rendering system written within the engine that will take a string and some parameters, and then use that information to render a series of "sprites" to the screen (sprites being a rectangle of pixels from memory copied to graphical screen memory).
I think BYOND really aims to offer developers of all ages a one stop solution to developing 2D multiplayer games, and it has done a great job at this since its inception. We haven't had many good text rendering options until now with maptext. I think bitmap font rendering is still something that is in very high demand among the community and would benefit everyone!
The soft coded solution is bandwidth robbery, and if we wanted to use that for any in-game interface text controls, you'd have to deal with the round trip time it takes to be responsive. This is not ideal for 2D games. Some of the community's big hitters (I won't mention any names, they can reply and support if they want) have often expressed a need for this, and LummoxJR has even crafted a library that handles it in soft code.
I think its time we come to an agreement on some type of standard way for this to work and add it as a feature to the seeker. This way the client can at least do some preliminary font / text rendering without the server having to tell it each letter to display, and how. Maptext has done a great job of offering us actual font-file support, but unfortunately that falls pretty short because at best you'll end up with a downloaded font that's been ripped from something else. Bitmap fonts are more readily available, easier to create, easier to modify, easier to maintain, and much better for designers. We can get guaranteed character widths, we can estimate word lengths. Getting a custom vectorized font made is a pain in the ass, and takes a lot of really expensive programs to do it.
I don't want to sound condescending or even holier than thou, but I've written many bit map font renderers in less than a day. They are very simple to create. Many direct x / xna titles are doing this with ease. Its not really far fetched to ask this of the BYOND developers to include as a simple feature.