ADOBE, WHAT HAPPENED? OTs released without OSFs

mondoB's picture

If you are interested in buying Font Folio, Adobe's complete OpenType library on CD, reading the on-site sales copy might lead you to conclude that, aside from higher tech quality, a new order of glyph options, especially easy access to oldstyle figures, is promised *across the board* in this expensive product. But customers found out otherwise--the hard way. Many fonts/families did indeed sport complete new glyphs and oldstyle figures, but others had only limited glyphs without oldstyle figures, and quite a few offered only the Euro symbol as the new element.

Let's have a moment of silence for glyphs missing in: Mendoza, Giovanni, Galliard, Bell, Berkeley Oldstyle, Esprit, Ehrhardt, Goudy Modern, Guardi, Hadriano, Horley Oldstyle, Italian Oldstyle, Legacy Serif, Minister, Photina, Plantin, Raleigh, Stone Serif, Veljovic, Versailles, Wilke. That's just serif text families; I didn't count the sans text families.

Whatever the reasons, surely it is in Adobe's interest to qualify their sales copy for this product so customers can buy with their eyes open. Because it's difficult to research glyph schedules for over 2,200 fonts, can you specify, in one place, which fonts/families have complete glyphs, which have limited glyphs, and which have only the Euro symbol?

mondoB's picture

Thanks Thomas for digging up what happened with Plantin. I revised the thread, not wishing to offend. We are still interested in what can be done in two areas, and would love your comments on:

--can Adobe qualify their sales copy for the complete OT library Font Folio so customers have a clearer sense of what is and what isn't there in the way of glyph coverage? Specfically, can you summarize hundreds of glyph schedules in one place by listing which fonts/families offer complete glyphs, especially oldstyle figures; which offer limited glyphs; and which offer only the new Euro symbol? Helpful for buyers, good PR for Adobe, I should think.

--longer term, what can be done by Adobe to acquire complete-glyph OT versions as they appear from licensors like Monotype or ITC? I presume they want a period of exclusivity, yet it is still a cherished wish of many here that Adobe's incomplete versions would in time all be replaced by completed versions, so that your OT library eventually can offer uniformly complete glyphs across the board.

twardoch's picture

Mondo,

"uniformly complete glyphs across the board" is wishful thinking. Does having oldstyle numerals qualify as "complete"? Small caps? Central European diacritics? Case-sensitive forms? Ligatures? Basic Cyrillic? Extended (Central Asian) Cyrillic? Basic Greek? Polytonic Greek? Cyrillic and Greek smallcaps?

What exactly is "uniformly complete"? For whom? For customers from USA? Canada? Brazil? Germany? France? Wales? Estonia? Poland? Greece? Turkey? Romania? Russia? Serbia and Montenegro? Kazakhstan?

How complete is *your* "uniformly complete"?

Regards,
A.

Nick Shinn's picture

The architects of OpenType made the OpenType format inherently non-standard, by trying to cram as much as possible into a single font.

In particular, by mixing language features (encoding) with typographic features ("expert" sets). Expert features are inherently non-standard, whereas it is certainly possible to standardize language encodings.

Perhaps the situation would be more "standard" if there were FOUR flavours of OpenType:

1. Basic Language encoding -Std
2. Basic Language encoding with Expert features - Pro
3. Multiple language encodings - Multi-std
4. Multiple language encodings with Expert features - Super Pro

From a needs perspective, and from a cost-of-production perspective, this makes more sense -- for specialist foundries, and for users.

Thomas Phinney's picture

I'd suggest that #4 would then be "Multi-Pro" in this system.

However, saying "Multi-Std" and "Multi-Pro" equals "multiple language encodings" really tells any given user nothing useful. They don't know whether their particular language needs are met. At least with Adobe's system there is a guarantee, that "Pro" fonts have support for a defined central European character set, as well as the usual western one.

I'll be the first to say that using "Pro" to designate language support rather than typographic goodies wasn't the best choice Adobe ever made. But with many hundreds of fonts out there, we are rather stuck with it. Other folks can do what they like, of course, though one rather thinks some consistent naming schemes would be good.

Cheers,

T

T

twardoch's picture

Thomas,

I'd say the choice was good. The Adobe naming suggests that fonts without characters supporting *all* of EU's Latin-script language are less valuable than those that include all of them -- regardless of the fact how many small caps or ligatures they try to offer in exchange.

Language coverage is like good nutrition and healthy style of living. Swashes and small caps are like make-up and nail polish.

I have another naming scheme to offer: the fonts with just the Western character set are "Minimal", the ones with EU-wide Latin-script support are "Standard", and those that include all of Standard but offer something beyond that (small caps, swashes, Cyrillic, Greek) would be "Pro".

Using these terms, all of Adobe's Std fonts would be "Min", Linotype's "Helvetica Neue Pro" would actually be "Std", while I think all of Adobe's "Pro" fonts would keep the "Pro" label.

I wish at some point, Adobe would at least leverage their "Min" character set support to my "Std" (or even better, "Pro").

Please start with Utopia and Kepler, then Poetica :D

Regards,
Adam

mondoB's picture

twardoch, "complete" will always be a relative term. Since my usage stops at the Cyrillic border, I can't help you with many of these issues; Adobe meets my language needs now. I am concerned, however, to help the western-language designer conveniently get a clear idea of what he's buying with his thousands. Our needs center on style options, which for us are anything but frivolous. Maybe we just want oldstyle figures for our Meridien, and can't get them.

Nick Shinn's picture

Language coverage is like good nutrition and healthy style of living. Swashes and small caps are like make-up and nail polish.

Yes to the first part.
But Swashes and small caps are the seasoning that make nourishment a pleasure.

twardoch's picture

mondo,

my point exactly. Your "complete" is not my "complete". Therefore, it's pretty obvious that your hope for Adobe or some other foundry to offer "uniformly complete glyphs across the board" cannot be fulfilled, since there always will be natural differences: there will be a small number of fonts with a large, extensive character set, and a large number of fonts with a moderate or small character set.

We'll also differ in priorities: if Adobe ever has the capacities to extend the character sets of some of their fonts, your plea will be for old-style figures and mine will be for Central European characters. You could make a point that fonts without old-style figures are no better than Arial or Times New Roman, while I could make a point that fonts without CE characters are simply not usable at all in 40% of the European countries. Either way Adobe choses, one of us would be unhappy. It's not possible to please everyone.

A.

Nick Shinn's picture

It’s not possible to please everyone.

But Cyrillic small caps shouldn't be too much trouble :-)
The trick is to make your Cyrillic lower case the same x-height as your Latin small caps. Then, if you keep the Cyrillic small caps the same x-height as the Cyrillic lower case, you only need to make three new glyphs. Still, there's kerning too, to do it right, but as it's an OT font, class kerning makes that easy.

mondoB's picture

"It’s not possible to please everyone."

they can sure get closer to that goal than they are now! Good place to start: what Adobe promises to OpenType customers in their English-language sales copy on-site--with fewer exceptions. In Adobe's OpenType library now, "Std" may mean a lot in one family, but just the Euro symbol in another. Just fulfilling their sales copy would be a notable step forward.

I recently bought Storm Foundry's Regent II in PS type one, and they show a lot of CE accents in their glyph layout alongside the loaded OSFs...I wonder if their new OpenType version goes even further, to the point of satisfying both of us? An intriguing possibility.

If I get a Czech or Estonian text, I do have options now from Adobe in my system. If some very sophisticated client wants oldstyle figures with Meridien, I don't have options.

twardoch's picture

Mondo,

the thing is, in Estonia, 99.9% of the text published is in Estonian. That doesn't have anything to do with "client sophistication", it simply limits the options down to 20% of the library or so. In other words, CE support is a *basic* requirement for many markets -- without it, the font is completely useless. Oldstyle figures always will remain a *sophisticated* extra. People will do without them, albeit they will complain. But this will not stop them from using the font on another occasion.

A.

dezcom's picture

The devil is in all the legacy typefaces and all of the legal entanglements they bring. This is a huge headache for old and very large foundries like Adobe, Linotype/Monotype that have bartered brides and prenuptual agreements with more parties than caterers dream of. Once the big foundries can step out of that quagmire and do new opentype faces from scratch, it becomes easier. All the "new" Adobe original post opentype era faces take language differences and support as well as features like OSF hand in hand. I guess if you can get beyond the lawyers and brokered business deals all is well for the future. Until then, we are in litigation purgatory.

ChrisL

Thomas Phinney's picture

Mondo wrote a while back: "The initiative for transforming type
classics into full-glyph OpenType has passed to others, notably Monotype and ITC. That’s where the OT action is now: the new issues at fonts.com and itcfonts.com."

The first sentence is true, because those foundries (and Linotype) own most of the classic typefaces, and they are the only ones in a position to extend them further.

The second sentence is a matter of opinion, but what Chris wrote just above is very true - if you look at recent Adobe releases such as Garamond Premier and Bickham Script Pro (or our upcoming ones, Arno and Hypatia Sans), we have moved to a model where a typical new Adobe typeface comprises 12-50 fonts with 2500-3500 glyphs per font, language support including CE, Greek, Cyrillic and Vietnamese, and very extensive typographic features. I believe that Adobe continues to set and raise the bar for design and technical quality, language support and typographic features in new type releases.

Cheers,

T

William Berkson's picture

>typical new Adobe typeface comprises 12-50 fonts with 2500-3500 glyphs per font

Holy guacamole! How many folks does it take to produce a font like that?

Thomas Phinney's picture

Well, at a minimum: one to design, one to do production work, and one to test. That's not including the external beta testers.

But the real question is *how long* does it take to produce a typeface like that. To which the answer is, a long time indeed (years, not months, usually). If we were doing more basic families, we'd be pumping out quite a few more typefaces per year.

Cheers,

T

dezcom's picture

"(or our upcoming ones, Arno and Hypatia Sans)"

Hypatia is nudging its way to the finish line Thomas?

ChrisL

ffetish's picture

Apart from cross-platform compatibility, what is the advantage of OpenType as far as the END USER is concerned, if the typeface doesn't boast OT's nifty accessibility to an expanded glyph pallette? None that I can see; might as well keep on using the Type 1 version of Photina, for example. Currently, as far as I can tell, one simply can't obtain Photina's oldstyle figures or small caps in any OTF version from any vendor (including Monotype, the font's original publisher). This might be a special case, since Photina's OsF's and SC's were pretty much design afterthoughts. But it sure puts a damper on the upbeat promotional guff coming from the OpenType vendors.

dezcom's picture

I don't know anything about the character set in Photina but OpenType fonts which have a full feature set have much to offer the end user. The qualifier is that you must be using an application which supports opentype features. Right now, that is pretty much the Adobe Suite CS apps and to some degree the current version of Quark. Most apps will run the font but may not be coded to use all the features in it. What applications are you using and do you have any fullfeatured opentype fonts along the linesa of Adobe Garamond Premier Pro?

ChrisL

ffetish's picture

"The qualifier is that you must be using an application which supports opentype features."

Any current text editor application within Mac OS X supports the use of ligatures, etc.; how difficult would it be for Microsoft (ironically, one of the developers of OpenType) to implement the advanced typographic features promised by the format? One suspects that, as with the development & distribution of OT font technology, commercial interests have limited the typographic capabilities of Microsoft Word - that particularly bloated white elephant. As for Photina, it has a very limited glyph set, at least by OpenType standards: no international alphabets or expert features. Such limitations are in no way overcome by the use of more sophisticated software applications; even if purchasing the most up-to-date font version, what is needed above all is a program that will support 'legacy' formats, such as PS-Type1 or TrueType (thankfully, neither Adobe nor Apple have yet deemed it profitable to phase out either).

dezcom's picture

Si can give you a much better take on the Microsoft OTF development story. The only thing I can take from it is that it is far more complicated than it may seem to us on the outside. I think that developing the new font engine for Vista has something to do with it and deciding if it is the operating system or the application that will handle the load.

Si, bail me out here, I am treading on a thin layer of conjecture!

ChrisL

twardoch's picture

Microsoft has implemented a very complete support for OpenType Layout features in WPF (Windows Presentation Foundation aka Avalon), the new graphic subsystem used by Windows Vista which uses an XML dialect called XAML to formulate user interfaces. Any application using WPF can make full use of OpenType Layout features.

Microsoft Word is far too complex an application to be rewritten completely to use WPF. So currently, it uses GDI as it did for years. But I think soon other applications will apear that will support OpenType Layout through WPF, which is no different than TextEdit supporting OpenType Layout through AAT.

A.

dezcom's picture

"Microsoft Word is far too complex an application ..."

Yup.

ChrisL

ffetish's picture

"Microsoft has implemented a very complete support for OpenType Layout features in WPF (Windows Presentation Foundation aka Avalon), the new graphic subsystem used by Windows Vista which uses an XML dialect called XAML to formulate user interfaces. Any application using WPF can make full use of OpenType Layout features."

That doesn't apply, then, to users of Microsoft Word in Mac OS X? Even the new version of Office still in development makes no mention of advanced OTF support. Could there be a commercial reason underlying such a curious absence? Just as, commercial interest underlie the decision to merely convert existing type libraries to OTF, rather than utilise the technology to its much-vaunted capacity?

Admittedly, Adobe's new fonts do make full use of the OT feature set. The more attention Adobe devotes to these new releases, the less it spends on fine-tuning typefaces from an earlier era - Photina, again, being a case in point. Admittedly, my own interest in the font is primarily historical; but then, the same could be said for, say, Adobe Garamond Premier Pro (or thousands of other digital fonts).

twardoch's picture

ffetish,

this doesn't apply to any Microsoft Office version, Windows or Mac. Microsoft Office for Windows supports OpenType Layout features but only for "complex scripts" (Hebrew, Arabic, Indic etc.) Microsoft Office for Mac does not support any OpenType Layout features at all. WPF and XAML are completely unrelated to Office.

If you're interested in XAML, check out the free beta versions of two Microsoft Expression applications:
http://www.microsoft.com/products/expression/en/Expression-Design/
http://www.microsoft.com/products/expression/en/expression-blend/

They'll allow you to build XAML documents to which you can manually add styling code to enable various OpenType features.

See:
http://www.microsoft.com/typography/links/news.aspx?NID=5759

(Note that unfortunately, neither Expression Design nor Expression Blend allows you to author text using OpenType Layout features directly).

Adam

twardoch's picture

> Could there be a commercial reason underlying
> such a curious absence?

In a healthy company, most reasons are commercial.

It seems that the benefit of having advanced typographic fireworks in Office application was not so far able to outweigh the cost of inducing uncertainties into such complex applications that need to deal with billions of legacy documents, and where text re-flow due to kerning changes or ligation would cause a lot of trouble.

A.

dezcom's picture

"...the benefit of having advanced typographic fireworks in Office application was not so far able to outweigh the cost of inducing uncertainties into such complex applications that need to deal with billions of legacy documents, and where text re-flow due to kerning changes or ligation would cause a lot of trouble."

Very diplomatically put Adam :-)

ChrisL

ffetish's picture

I won't be holding my breath for Microsoft to come to the OpenType party - insofar as advanced typography (as opposed to international alphabet support) is concerned. There are an increasing number of wordprocessing competitors out there that can (1) alphabetically sort my huge list of fonts (for all its bells and whistles, Office 2004 for Mac just gives up!); and (2) automatically implement so-called 'advanced' typographic features, such as common ligatures. The disadvantage would seem to be that in sending .doc or .rtf to another user with Office, such features are automatically removed!

But since this thread was initially about the lack of typographic features being implemented by OT font developers, I might as well resume that thought here. I mentioned already Photina (a font for which small caps and text figures were added as an afterthought). But what about Esprit? To my knowledge, no current OT version of Esprit contains the expert features which are, as Robert Bringhurst suggests, integral to its design. In the case of these fonts, Type 1 (legacy) support is far more important than OpenType support at the application level.

No doubt further examples of certain gaps in the OT font development/conversion/licensing process could be adduced.

Oh, and just for the record - healthy companies don't always make for healthy consumers!

piccic's picture

Linotype/Monotype that have bartered brides and prenuptual agreements with more parties than caterers dream of. […] Once the big foundries can step out of that quagmire and do new opentype faces from scratch, it becomes easier. […]
Until then, we are in litigation purgatory.

I like this… :=|

dezcom's picture

Thanks, Claudio!

ChrisL

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