Opentype really crossplatform? (in practice)

anonymous's picture

i have the following problem: a customer of me will send me word-documents (from a windows machine with cyrillic fonts) and I should use the texts of the word-docuemts to make a booklet in quark xpress (or indesign) with cyrillic fonts.

I would like to know, if I would buy 2 opentype-fonts, then install one on the windows machine and the second on my mac, can I open the cyrillic texts without problems and import them into quark or indesign?
I read a lot on adobes website, but I would like to have somebody, whe can approve that from his experiences.
thanks for your help in advance!
yours sincerely

johnbutler's picture

Greetings Ferdinand,

For anything multilingual I recommend you abandon Quark altogether. To use Cyrillic fonts you need the Passport version, and the fonts themselves have to be the old 8-bit versions (Adobe Cyrillic encoding or Windows codepage 1250, and I don't think the modes are interchangeable across platforms.) The encoding discrepancies end up being a nightmare. Even established type designers have difficulties making their fonts work for these non-Latin-1 environments, especially if their main font-building tool is still Fontographer. But this nightmare is easily solved by Unicode. If you have a Quark license already, I believe Adobe offers a reasonable competetive upgrade to InDesign 2.0. Try to look at this project of yours as an opportunity to get into InDesign. Personally I've grown to love the app and wouldn't use anything else.

I really wish Quark would get on the Unicode bandwagon and adopt either OpenType or AAT support. The resulting competition might give Adobe an incentive to accelerate and refine their own OT support in their own applications. InDesign was at a disadvantage (in terms of its ability to sell OpenType) from the beginning since it's a brand new underdog. Illustrator, on the other hand, is arguably the vector-drawing market leader, so its upcoming OT support (if any) should prompt more OT font sales and perhaps give users further incentive to switch from Quark. But if you're dealing with Unicode, you already have all the incentive you need.

johnbutler's picture

Oh, and yes, if you do use InDesign, your fonts will work across both platforms.

Thomas Phinney's picture


Interesting to me that you say "either OpenType or AAT support." What do you think AAT's chance of survival or widespread adoption is, and why?



(Disclaimer: I work at Adobe, and have rather strong opinions in this area.)

johnbutler's picture

(Note that in the context of this post, the term "AAT" refers to the use of advanced AAT layout features in Latin-based fonts. Its more compelling features center around non-Latin international support, which is outside the scope of my work, though it does interest me.)

I think AAT's chances are very slim. I think it will actually die out if Apple keeps it as an Apple-only format. Certainly there are very few compelling reasons to develop an AAT font. For better or worse, I seem to have stumbled onto one such reason. (See below...)

However, if some company like Quark, Macromedia, Corel, or any other non-OS-selling non-competitor to Apple approached Apple and said "we'd like to develop the next version of our app to include AAT support, provided you give us an AAT port to Windows," I think Apple would be more receptive than they were when Microsoft asked for it. My understanding is that it was an issue of money at the time, not just "ewww yer Microsoft, no way." Keeping in mind, of course, that Microsoft worked with Apple on Truetype way back when.

AAT has one main advantage over OT right now. It's fairly easy to build an AAT-savvy app for a Mac. In fact the tools to do it come in the box with Mac OS. I was able to do it myself in a single afternoon, and I happen to consider myself fairly crappy when it comes to coding Objective C. The case is not the same for OT. I don't know where I can get a stable, shipping OT support library that works pretty seamlessly with Mac OS just yet. ICU, Pango, and Sun's new Java-based library look promising, but they're not all really finished yet (at least when I last checked) and their open-source, Linux-heavy roots suggest that they likely won't include specific code that makes them easier to integrate with Aqua. X11, yes, but I'm not going to waste time struggling with a cruft-encrufted 20-year-old GUI environment with a million different ways to do the same thing, all poorly documented. X11 is the only piece of code that keeps Linux off the desktop. But that's another discussion.

Now I keep hearing that Apple is working on adding OT feature support to the AAT Cocoa libraries, which would be a godsend. Strangely, Apple doesn't seem as averse to OT as you Adobe folks are to AAT. And I'd personally prefer OT support inside AAT, cos right now I'm working on a project for a customer, and we just finished the OT features, and I'm "porting" them to Graphite so Windows users can get to them without spending $700 on InDesign. I hope that the XML-based AAT tools that Apple unveils at the upcoming ATypI will let me do the same for AAT, so users of this font who own Macs can use it in WorldText instead of buying InDesign.

Not that I have anything against InDesign, it's just hard to convince the home user market to fork out $700 to use a font, especially when they only need it rendered in a simple text-editor way.

So OT has almost every piece of the puzzle: a shipping app, more apps on the way, shipping fonts, font feature development tools, and pretty good support from Windows. AAT has the one missing piece I need, which is support for developing feature-savvy applications for MacOS.

If Adobe suddenly released an SDK that let app developers use OT features on MacOS (essentially CoolType or a subset thereof) then I would see no reason for AAT's continued existence.

If Adobe suddenly released a simple OT-savvy text editor (with printing enabled) for MacOS and Windows, I wouldn't have to mess with AAT or Graphite. I'm dealing with these technologies because they come with free feature-savvy text editors. Conclude for yourself how silly I feel about this.


P.S. Graphite does some pretty cool stuff, if you haven't checked it out yet. John Hudson suggested it to me a while back. I wish they had a Mac version.

hrant's picture

> Apple doesn't seem as averse to OT as you Adobe folks are to AAT.

Probably because Adobe feels more secure than Apple, and rightly so.


Thomas Phinney's picture

I don't think there's any major part of this analysis I'd disagree with, except that I'm dubious as to whether Apple would port AAT in exchange for a single developer's support. I'm also dubious as to whether any single app developer (other than Microsoft and Adobe) could release a new AAT-friendly app and generate sufficient demand for AAT fonts. I suppose one could argue that Quark could do it. However, if they weren't doing it for version 6, I think it would be far too late for them to change the direction of the type industry by version 7.



johnbutler's picture

I'm dubious as to whether Apple would port AAT in exchange for a single developer's support.

Oh, I certainly won't dispute that. Things could get interesting if multiple vendors approached them at the same time (Quark & Macromedia, for example) but I also consider that unlikely. I was just trying to imagine scenarios where AAT could pick up speed, regardless of how outlandish those scenarios were.

Viva OpenType.

Thomas Phinney's picture

If your license is a typical 5-user one (like Adobe's), you just have to buy one OpenType font and install it on both machines.

However, the regular version of QuarkXPress won't handle Cyrillic. On the Mac, even the Passport version of QXP can't use the Cyrillic characters in a Unicode font. However, importing a Windows Word doc with Cyrillic text into Mac InDesign, and setting it in an OpenType font, works just fine. That's how we did the Cyrillic text in our specimen books, as I recall.

John Hudson did the book "Language Culture Type" in InDesign, but presumably on Windows.

Of course, you're welcome to get somebody who doesn't work at Adobe to confirm this. :)

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