Helvetica oblique - Helvetica bugs for ever

Uli's picture

One of the most striking peculiarities of font users is the fact that most font users do not care about the most elementary quality requirements of fonts.

Have a look at this picture:

www.sanskritweb.net/temporary/Helvetica-oblique.gif

Although Helvetica oblique has been available in all PostScript printers for more than 25 years and therefore is one of the most often used fonts, no font user ever noticed nor cared that the accented and non-accented letters have different side bearings with the consequence that Helvetica oblique is unusable for quality composition in languages with accented letters, e.g. French, German, etc.

A font user may be compared with a person who does not notice nor care that the black string on his left shoe differs from the white string on his right shoe.

Nick Shinn's picture

Uli, aren't you making the mistake of equating font users in general with those who use a particular cut of a particular typeface?
In the days when I used Helvetica, I always used the Neue version. I suspect that most "quality" compositors would do the same.

Uli's picture

> Uli, aren't you making the mistake of equating font users in general...

No.

If Typophile users cared about the most elementary quality requirements of fonts, at least some of them would disapprove of what is depicted above. But nobody does.

Arno Enslin's picture

If Typophile users cared about the most elementary quality requirements of fonts, at least some of them would disapprove of what is depicted above.

It’s untrue, that nobody cares about those bugs. But Linotype generally does not care as much about the technical quality of the fonts as many much smaller foundries, especially not about the technical quality of the old fonts.

If they are also available from Adobe and if they are really the same with regard to the number of glyphs (for example), which is not taken for granted, you should buy the Adobe versions. In case of Helvetica Oblique, available from Adobe, the side bearings are more consistent. The same is true for the hinting (in case of other fonts).

Adobe even provides bug histories of some (if not all) of their fonts. Every foundry should do that. A simple list with the status of bugs and the version of the font, in which a bug was fixed. This requires correct version numbers. Many foundries don’t seem to care much about correct version numbers.

Additionally I would expect to be informed per mail, when I licensed a font, for which an update is available. I think, this is also not a common practice.

Arno Enslin's picture

@ Uli

If you agree in what I wrote above, you admit, that fonts are software.

Uli's picture

> If you agree in what I wrote above, you admit, that fonts are software.

Even if fonts were "software" (I will not embark on this preposterous discussion here), it should be remembered that Helvetica oblique was identical with Helvetica Roman in 1985, when Adobe claimed to have "created" Helvetica oblique.

The slant was made by the word processor:

see www.sanskritweb.net/temporary/Helvetica-oblique2.gif

or by the printer driver or the distiller:

see www.sanskritweb.net/temporary/Helvetica-oblique3.gif

The "Side Bearing Feature" (SBF) was added later, when Linotype and Adobe "created" a "new" oblique version of Helvetica Roman thereby adding the SBF as a "Unique Selling Proposition" (UPS).

Nick Shinn's picture

But nobody does.

If you are in business, it's not a good idea to criticize your competitors' products in a public forum.
You will probably have to rub shoulders with them at industry events.

And then there is the "glass houses" thing -- nobody puts out 100% perfect products all the time, and criticism is likely to come full circle.

As a font producer, the best thing is to set a high standard.

So the "Ban Comic Sans" initiatives will have to come from Typophile font users, rather than Typophile font makers.

But what can they do to remedy such snafus?
("Snafu" is a WWII-era acronym meaning "situation normal all f*cked up")
I suspect they realize that there is little they can do to change the system, certainly not be merely complaining individually about what everyone knows is not a "quality" font in the first place, so why bother?

If you want to change things, you have to organize and campaign, it's not enough just to bitch and whine, which will merely create a bad vibe and alienate potential allies.
If you don't want to change things, but just want to grandstand beating up on easy targets, because it makes you feel superior, well, that's the impression you give, and it's counterproductive to what you perhaps think you care about, because people will just dismiss you as a crazy hothead, and your cause along with you.

Theunis de Jong's picture

Although Helvetica oblique has been available in all PostScript printers for more than 25 years and therefore is one of the most often used fonts ...

No need to get all upset about this ... Originally (as in "25 years ago", though I have a feel that's a bit exaggerated), PostScript printers such as the lauded LaserWriter had precious little memory. And a very large part of it was desperately needed for full-page rasterizing, so its programmers came up with a couple of shortcuts. One of them was the "Helvetica Narrow" trick, which has haunted software writers ever since -- only recently, even Adobe's own InDesign. The other one was obliqueing Helvetica and Courier (which was even further humiliated by having its strokes thickened for a faux-bold version, and then double that for faux bold italics).
Since then, available memory has increased and computers became much faster. No need anymore to distort a perfectly good Helvetica.

Uli's picture

Nick:

There are numerous technically flawed fonts. Therefore it would not be worth the trouble to mention the technical flaws, e.g. the wrong side bearings, of any technically flawed font.

But Helvetica is not ANY technically flawed font. Helvetica is the most widely used, the most widely bought and the most widely advertised sans serif font of the world.

Therefore, it should be expected that, among those innumerable Helvetica font buyers, there is at least ONE font buyer who noticed that Helvetica accent letters have wrong side bearings. But nobody of these dimwitted font buyers ever noticed this technical flaw of Helvetica.

Helvetica is also featured by special exhibitions. Therefore, it should be expected that at least ONE of these "font experts" who run Helvetica exhibitions, e.g.

www.helveticaforever.com/en/index.html

should have noticed that Helvetica accent letters have wrong side bearings. But nobody of these dimwitted "font experts" who run Helvetica exhibitions ever noticed this technical flaw of Helvetica.

Uli's picture

Nick:

Have a look at this screenshot:

www.sanskritweb.net/temporary/Helvetica-oblique4.jpg

In Germany, "Mangel" (singular) denotes "bug" ("fault", "defect", etc.),
and "Mängel" (plural) denotes "bugs" ("faults", "defects", etc.).

If laymen compare "Ma" in "Mangel" with "Mä" in "Mängel", the side bearing bug is conspicuous even to bloody laymen, who know nothing about fonts.

But neither the font makers at Linotype nor the font makers at Adobe nor the many thousands of Helvetica font buyers ever noticed this conspicuous side bearing bug relating to all accented letters of Helvetica. That's why I say that font makers and font buyers are dimwits.

Uli's picture

And here a screenshot of the Helvetica bug for French:

www.sanskritweb.net/temporary/Helvetica-oblique5.jpg

Arno Enslin's picture

@ Uli

Although on the Adobe website the same bug is displayed, the sidebearing bugs are fixed in the Adobe OT versions of Helvetica Oblique.

Uli's picture

> bugs are fixed in the Adobe OT versions

I know Adobe OT versions featuring the bugs

> on the Adobe website the same bug is displayed

WYSIWYG

Arno Enslin's picture

@ Uli

WYSIWYG

In this case they have added the bug in a version later than 2.030 (FontFolio 11).

Uli's picture

> they have added the bug in a version later than 2.030

The bug already existed before, e.g. in FontFolio 10, e.g.:

"Version 1.040;PS 001.000;Core 1.0.35;makeotf.lib1.5.4492"

Arno Enslin's picture

But in the Adobe version 2.030 of Helvetica Oblique it is fixed. So y either don’t g, w y actually s, or they have refixed the bug.

flooce's picture

In the Helvetica shipping with Mac OS I don't see a problem. Are you sure you are not to nervous about the whole thing? Maybe it is your browser? Try Firefox, works on every system. It seems like you use IE6, well it could be it doesn't handle the website correct, hm, couldn't it? Not everybody's web-tech got stuck at the evolutionary stage of your personal web-site. I wonder why you take this whole font (forging, piracy, bankruptcy stories) business so serious btw. (and why you feel the need to swear about font buyers), but that is nothing for anybody else to figure out.

Mac OS Helvetica:
Version ––– 6.1d18e1
Unique name ––– Helvetica Oblique; 6.1d18e1; 2009-06-29
Copyright ––– © 1990-2006 Apple Computer Inc. © 1981 Linotype AG © 1990-91 Type Solutions Inc.
Trademark ––– Helvetica is a registered trademark of Linotype AG

Screen from Linotype

I find it suspicious that you "care" so much about fonts and don't even activate clear-type...

Uli's picture

> Maybe it is your browser?

No. It's because you selected OpenType Com for screen display.

- For OpenType Com, which retails at 58,31 €, the bug was removed.

- For OpenType Std, which retails at 34,51 €, the bug was not removed.

You must pay more than 50 bucks to get a non-bugged Linotype font.

Nick Shinn's picture

That's why I say that font makers and font buyers are dimwits.

Except for Americans, British, Canadians, Australians, &c.
We've excised accents from out language, don'tcha know.
Which may explain this problem, if Anglophones were involved in production of said fonts, and not paying enough attention to "foreign" characters.

Queneau's picture

I think your remarks are offensive and non-constructive. Why moan on a forum like this about dimwits and bad bad foundries selling bad bad products for a too high price. No one is telling you to use Helvetica, and if others want to use it the way it comes that's up to them. Why insult them. Rather than moan you could try to improve the situation yourself, by contacting the foundry and sharing your observations and try to work with, rather than against them to make the fonts better. You don't have to approve with everything foundries do, but moaning about it here is hardly gonna make the situation any better. And insulting other users is nonsensical and pointless. Why waste your time?

Florian Hardwig's picture

When I discover a bug or an unexpected behaviour in a font (Yes, it happens. Not all the time, but every now and then – fonts are complex pieces of software after all), I directly contact the foundry. So far, my experience is very good. Type designers and distributors are very responsive, they appreciate user feedback. Usually, I receive an apology and fixed font files in no time. Try to find this level of support and service in other fields. No, I don’t use Helvetica Oblique.

Uli's picture

According to my researches, Helvetica fonts with the bugs described above have been sold during the past eight to ten years by both Adobe and Linotype and by other font outlets (FontShop etc.). Considering that Helvetica is one of the most-often used fonts, innumerable persons and companies have bought these faulty Helvetica fonts.

Ray Larabie's picture

A font user may be compared with a person who does not notice nor care that the black string on his left shoe differs from the white string on his right shoe.

It's more like the stitching not quite matching on a pair of shoes that are used rarely.

Like all software, fonts can have bugs so I think it's important to only buy from vendors who offer an upgrade path and a way to report bugs to someone who can fix them.

Uli's picture

typodermic:

Frank W. (and formerly Bruno S.)

see www.sanskritweb.net/forgers/chevalier.htm

and other Linotype people regularly visit my font forgers website

see www.sanskritweb.net/forgers

And this Typophile forum is also regularly visited by Linotype people.

For instance, this thread about the defective Helvetica was visited yesterday at least twice by Frank W. and other Linotype people:

213.61.7.196 - - [05/Jul/2010:08:38:33 +0200] "GET /temporary/Helvetica-oblique4.jpg HTTP/1.1" 200 218863 "http://www.typophile.com/node/71858" "Mozilla/5.0 (Windows; U; Windows NT 5.1; de; rv:1.9.2.4) Gecko/20100611 Firefox/3.6.4 (.NET CLR 3.5.30729)" www.sanskritweb.net
213.61.7.196 - - [05/Jul/2010:08:38:57 +0200] "GET /temporary/Helvetica-oblique2.gif HTTP/1.1" 200 9490 "http://www.typophile.com/node/71858" "Mozilla/5.0 (Windows; U; Windows NT 5.1; de; rv:1.9.2.4) Gecko/20100611 Firefox/3.6.4 (.NET CLR 3.5.30729)" www.sanskritweb.net
213.61.7.196 - - [05/Jul/2010:08:39:13 +0200] "GET /temporary/Helvetica-oblique3.gif HTTP/1.1" 200 19328 "http://www.typophile.com/node/71858" "Mozilla/5.0 (Windows; U; Windows NT 5.1; de; rv:1.9.2.4) Gecko/20100611 Firefox/3.6.4 (.NET CLR 3.5.30729)" www.sanskritweb.net
213.61.7.196 - - [05/Jul/2010:08:39:19 +0200] "GET /temporary/Helvetica-oblique.gif HTTP/1.1" 200 29877 "http://www.typophile.com/node/71858" "Mozilla/5.0 (Windows; U; Windows NT 5.1; de; rv:1.9.2.4) Gecko/20100611 Firefox/3.6.4 (.NET CLR 3.5.30729)" www.sanskritweb.net
213.61.7.196 - - [05/Jul/2010:11:51:55 +0200] "GET /temporary/Helvetica-oblique.gif HTTP/1.1" 200 29877 "http://typophile.com/node/71858" "Mozilla/5.0 (Macintosh; U; Intel Mac OS X 10_6_3; de-de) AppleWebKit/533.16 (KHTML, like Gecko) Version/5.0 Safari/533.16" www.sanskritweb.net
213.61.7.196 - - [05/Jul/2010:11:54:16 +0200] "GET /temporary/Helvetica-oblique2.gif HTTP/1.1" 200 9490 "http://typophile.com/node/71858" "Mozilla/5.0 (Macintosh; U; Intel Mac OS X 10_6_3; de-de) AppleWebKit/533.16 (KHTML, like Gecko) Version/5.0 Safari/533.16" www.sanskritweb.net
213.61.7.196 - - [05/Jul/2010:11:54:38 +0200] "GET /temporary/Helvetica-oblique4.jpg HTTP/1.1" 200 218863 "http://typophile.com/node/71858" "Mozilla/5.0 (Macintosh; U; Intel Mac OS X 10_6_3; de-de) AppleWebKit/533.16 (KHTML, like Gecko) Version/5.0 Safari/533.16" www.sanskritweb.net
213.61.7.196 - - [05/Jul/2010:11:55:17 +0200] "GET /temporary/Helvetica-oblique5.jpg HTTP/1.1" 200 226145 "http://typophile.com/node/71858" "Mozilla/5.0 (Macintosh; U; Intel Mac OS X 10_6_3; de-de) AppleWebKit/533.16 (KHTML, like Gecko) Version/5.0 Safari/533.16" www.sanskritweb.net

inetnum: 213.61.7.192 - 213.61.7.207
descr: LINOTYPE LIBRARY GMBH
person: Bruno Steinert
address: LINOTYPE LIBRARY GMBH
address: DU PONT STR. 1
address: 61352 BAD HOMBURG

It is funny that Bruno S., who was dismissed a couple of years ago, is still mentioned as the person responsible for the Linotype outfit.

Now that it is known that Linotype has been selling a faulty Helvetica font during the past ten years to innumerable font buyers, Frank W., Bruno S. and other Linotype people should start to pay damages to all those innumerable font buyers, who received this faulty Helvetica font.

Ray Larabie's picture

I guess you're just going to swing punches at anything that moves, huh? Enjoy your thread.

Queneau's picture

Paranoia is a hard thing to get rid of. Try to get some professional help. And remember: there are worse things than font piracy in this world, hunger, war, violence etc. Why not direct your unlimited energy somewhere where it would really help people.

Uli's picture

Queneau:

> Paranoia

You should work in the Linotype sales department. Whenever Linotype customers complain about defective Linotype fonts, you tell them they suffer from paranoia or schizophrenia or alzheimer or, to use my word, from dimwittedness.

Uli's picture

Ten years and one month after

One month ago, I described the so-called side-bearing font bugs contained in the OpenType version of the standard Helvetica font which has been sold during the past ten years to innumerable dimwits who waste money on defective Linotype fonts.

Frank Wildenberg regularly visits this Typophile website and also my own font forgers website. For instance, a few days ago, he re-visited my website concerning my documents about Bruno Steinert's greatest enemy, Harvey Hunt:

213.61.7.196 - - [19/Jul/2010:18:32:39 +0200] "GET /forgers/teipel.pdf HTTP/1.1" 200 91949 "http://www.google.com/search?hl=en&client=safari&rls=en&q=harvey+hunt +berthold&aq=0&aqi=g1&aql=&oq=harvey+hunt+bert&gs_rfai=" "Mozilla/5.0 (Macintosh; U; Intel Mac OS X 10_6_4; de-de) AppleWebKit/533.16 (KHTML, like Gecko) Version/5.0 Safari/533.16" www.sanskritweb.net
213.61.7.196 - - [19/Jul/2010:18:34:04 +0200] "GET /forgers/berthold.pdf HTTP/1.1" 200 713723 "http://www.google.com/search?hl=en&client=safari&rls=en&q=harvey+hunt +berthold&aq=0&aqi=g1&aql=&oq=harvey+hunt+bert&gs_rfai=" "Mozilla/5.0 (Macintosh; U; Intel Mac OS X 10_6_4; de-de) AppleWebKit/533.16 (KHTML, like Gecko) Version/5.0 Safari/533.16" www.sanskritweb.net

One moth ago, Frank Wildenberg also read this Typophile thread, but he did not care to remove the Helvetica bugs. Why should he bother to correct the defective Helvetica fonts? None of the dimwits, who buy Linotype fonts, ever noticed the technical defects of the Helvetica font or of any other defective Linotype fonts.

None of the dimwitted German font buyers,

see www.sanskritweb.net/temporary/Helvetica-oblique4.jpg

None of the dimwitted French font buyers,

see www.sanskritweb.net/temporary/Helvetica-oblique5.jpg

None of the dimwitted Italian font buyers,

see www.sanskritweb.net/temporary/Helvetica-oblique6.jpg

None of the dimwitted Spanish font buyers

see www.sanskritweb.net/temporary/Helvetica-oblique7.jpg

ever noticed that Linotype has been selling defective Helvetica OTF fonts during the past ten years. Therefore, neither Bruno Steinert nor Frank Wildenberg ever cared about removing these Helvetica bugs, because they know that the dimwits who buy Linotype fonts will never notice such Linotype font bugs.

Helvetica bugs for ever - Linotype bugs for ever

see www.sanskritweb.net/temporary/Helvetica-oblique8.jpg

dberlow's picture

A bug cannot be "removed from" a font. The font must be replaced, like a light bulb.

Cheers!

Arno Enslin's picture

A bug cannot be "removed from" a font. The font must be replaced, like a light bulb.

I assume, that’s a joke.

ferfolio's picture

A bug cannot be "removed from" a font. The font must be replaced, like a light bulb.

Haha, good one!
If they only where that cheap to buy... (but not to sell ;)

dezcom's picture

If you change the metrics so that accented letters are the same sidebearings as non, you may have better spacing for new work but will cause reflow problems of legacy documents created using the older fonts. Since no one buys Helvetica Oblique per se, and their are thousands of alternatives for anyone with a discerning enough eye to care, why would it be worth it to retrofit all those old fonts? The people who really care about good typography would just choose a different cut. Think of yourself like any merchant. You have a given amount of resources, do you spend them on products that have long since been passed by or do you work harder on new products for the current market?

Uli's picture

dezcom:

> but will cause reflow problems

This was not the problem here.

Technically speaking, the "advance width" (sum of left side bearing + glyph bounding box + right side bearing) of the accented glyphs of the OpenType version of Helvetica remained unchanged, but the side bearings of the accented glyphs had been faultily and arbitrarily shifted.

dezcom's picture

I see.

Uli's picture

I uploaded a pictorial report for font-buying dimwits:

www.sanskritweb.net/forgers/helvetica-forever.pdf

Arno Enslin's picture

@ Uli

1. As I already have written, the bugs are fixed in the Helvetica, that Adobe offers. So you should be more precise with the info in your PDF.

2. In the preview of the website of Adobe the same problem is displayed.

3. You cannot know, if the bug is not yet fixed in the version, Linotype provides. It may be, that the bug is not yet fixed in the font version, that is used by the type tester.

Uli's picture

Ten years and two months after

Today is September 1st, 2010.

Even ten years and two months after releasing the OpenType font format, the bug is not yet fixed in the Helvetica Std OTF font sold by Linotype, Adobe and others.

And what is more, this defective Helvetica Standard OpenType font is still heading the Font Charts.

see www.sanskritweb.net/temporary/Helvetica-oblique1.jpg

This proves that dimwits crave for buying defective fonts.

The more defective the fonts, the more dimwitted the buyers.

Arno Enslin's picture

You are an ignorant, Uli. Have a look at my previous post. It is partly untrue, what you are writing here.

Uli's picture

Arno Enslin:

... font version, that is used by the type tester

Your hypothesis about the Font Sampler is bizarre. Look here:

www.sanskritweb.net/temporary/Basic-Commercial.jpg

Which font is displayed here according to your hypothesis?

The font Basic Commercial or the version Akzidenz-Grotesk?

Micha Mirck's picture

It's not only the side bearings... Look at the angle

Arno Enslin's picture

@ Uli

I wrote, that certain bugs are fixed in certain fonts. This means, that I have these certain fonts in certain versions here. And I checked them. So there is nothing bizzare. I did not claim anything here, which I have not checked, while you are talking about online typetesters.

Even if Linoytpe fixes the most obvious bugs in Helvetica, this does not mean, that they create a better kerning for their fonts and fix the less obvious incorrect side sidebearings. You were talking about a very obvious bug.

The condition of Stempel Garamond is not better than the condition of Helvetica with regard to the side bearings and the kerning.

dberlow's picture

>It's not only the side bearings... Look at the angle

Well, if ÍIeé were a word, I'd worry about it. Is it a word?

Uli's picture

> Well, if ÍIeé were a word, I'd worry about it. Is it a word?

This is a real word (denoting "pupil" in French):

www.sanskritweb.net/temporary/lyceen.jpg

Uli's picture

The "bug history" of Helvetica oblique and Helvetica bold oblique is hard to trace. In the PostScript language beginnings in the 1980s, the oblique versions did not exist at all as real fonts, but were generated by slanting the upright version to the right by 11.5 degree with this internal command:

/Erode{ 11.5 dup ... dtransform ...)

The bug-ridden OT versions of Helvetica oblique and Helvetica bold oblique are not these artificially slanted old PostScript versions, but someone tampered with the upright versions in a horrible way affecting the side bearings and the slanting angle as well, as correctly noted by Micha Mirck.

Uli's picture

/Erode{ 11.5 dup ... dtransform ...)

Sorry, not correct. I have checked again:

Helvetica Oblique used this font matrix equivalent to 12 degree slant:

/FontMatrix [0.001000 0 0.212557E-3 0.001 0 0] readonly def

The oblique font embedded the normal font with this matrix:

/FontMatrix [0.001 0 0 0.001 0 0] readonly def

And Helvetica Narrow Oblique used this distorted matrix:

/FontMatrix [0.00082 0 0.000174297 0.001 0 0] def

Helvetica Narrow Oblique was generated internally by the normal font, i.e. by Helvetica Roman as the upright font. The distorted font matrix slanted and squeezed the normal Helvetica font.

Micha Mirck's picture

@ Berlow. Is is imporant that it is a real word???

I haven chosen these 4 glyphs for 2 reasons. One is the angle, but there is also another difference. If you would slant the e, it will look different from the e in the é.

Arno Enslin's picture

@ Micha

The bugs are likewise fixed in Helvetica available from Adobe.

Micha Mirck's picture

@ Arno...
yes, I know. And for me this is not about bashing LT. I'm just surprised about 2 things.
One; how could this error got into the font.
Second; This is not some obscure font that is sold maybe twice a year, and this is the first time read about it. I'm also a LT partner and I don't know to how many companies this font has been licensed to, but I have never heard anyone complaining about it. And remember, in Dutch we use diacritics.

Uli's picture

Hélvèticâ Bügs Fõrëvêr Ånd Êvër

1st Ôct. 2010 Thrée Mônths Åfter

www.sanskritweb.net/temporary/Helvetica-oblique0.jpg

Chris G's picture

Uli, Does the relentless and ineffectual bitterness ever get tiring for you?

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