Print performance of TrueType

Queneau's picture

Hello,

I have been wondering about the following: It used to be recommended to use Postscript T1 for print production (rather than truetype, I guess?). Would you use TT for print production, and if not, why?

With the dawn of opentype I don't know if this is still valid. There still is postscript (PST1) and truetype (TT) but now there is Open Type TTF and OTF as well. Opentype, as I understand it, is basically an enhanced truetype format, with either postscript or truetype outlines.

But does that mean that OTF (postscript outlines) is still better suited for print production than TTF (truetype outlines)? What relevent differences are there, both in print as on screen?

THX Jeffrey

ralf h.'s picture

See here: http://opentype.info/blog/2010/07/31/opentype-myths-explained/

Would you use TT for print production

Anytime.
I don't see much reason to recommend PS over TT anymore, especially not the old plattform-dependend PS Type 1!

What relevent differences are there, both in print as on screen?

For printing it doesn't matter. On screen TrueType/OpenType TT might offer better hinting, but only if the font is equipped with it. It also depends heavily on the render methods. Which OS? Which kind of subpixel rendering? Typophile.com has countless of threads on these subjects.

JanekZ's picture

[font source cubic Beziers]
text converted to curves in application:
from OTF(PS) - 55 nodes (as in source)
from TTF - 88 nodes


OT(PS) - no conversion needed.
TrueType - more nodes, bigger files, conversion cubic > quadratic > cubic is an approximation.
Belly of that "a" - approximation errors:

Queneau's picture

Thanks for your comments.

@Ralf

Thanks for the link.

As I'm not a webdesigner screenhinting is not as important to me as printing quality. I have some older PST1 fonts that are quite badly hinted (I use Mac OSX, 1024x768 screen), like ITC Mendoza, which show all kinds of strangle line deformations, especially in the horizontal strokes. This might be slightly annoying when working on a document on screen, but as long as I know the printing quality is good, this is a minor quibble.

k.l.'s picture

JanekZ -- [font source cubic Beziers]

As you indicate, what you say goes by the premise that quadratic beziers were derived by converting cubic beziers, which does not say anything about formats as such. Working with quadratic beziers right away you can get away with just as few points.

Queneau -- ITC Mendoza

Issues are font-specific, not format-specific. (Referring to a very old version: As to outlines, some extra points are caused by conversion from IK to bezier curves. As to hinting, a few letters seem to have oddly placed hints. Both shouldn't matter in print, though.) Still one of my favorite typefaces.

gregh's picture

Many PostScript RIPs contain TrueType rasterizers. In those cases no curve conversion is necessary.

dezcom's picture

As mentioned above, for high-rez printing, there is no difference in this day and age. Differences occur in the quality of drawings but this has nothing to do with the format of the type. Some of the very old RIPs may not handle today's opentype fonts well but you should choose an output vendor with modern equipment for many reasons.

Queneau's picture

Thanks all for the responses.

@Karsten

I love Mendoza too, as well as Photina by the same designer. Thanks for the explanation on the IK conversion.

Does it make a difference if I would convert fonts (either PS or TT) to outlines when I deliver the document to a printer?

dezcom's picture

If your final output is outlines, then there is no more distinction, they both will be postscript outlines but the outlines may differ in point placement and number. It is far easier to draw in postscript type 1 outline format than it is for truetype so there is no need for thinking about truetype unless hinting is the main concern. When you convert to outlines, all hinting is lost.

Rob O. Font's picture

dez>If your final output is outlines, then there is no more distinction, they both will be postscript outlines but the outlines may differ in point placement and number.

Perhaps what you mean to say is; if your final output is [high resolution], then there is no [] distinction, [cubes or quads] both will [likely] be [rasterized from] postscript outlines, [and] the [contours will] differ in [] number, unless the font contains only on-curve points?

dez>...so there is no need for thinking about truetype unless hinting is the main concern.

Or, one could say, there is no need to think about postscript unless antiquated tooling is the main concern.

oldnick's picture

Jeffrey,

The simple answer to your ultimate question ("does that mean that OTF (postscript outlines) is still better suited for print production than TTF (truetype outlines)") is: No. OTF fonts are PostScript outlines in a TrueType wrapper. Apple is now a Designer Label for consumer electronics, not a professional designer's platform. Get used to it...

dezcom's picture

@dberlow

Yup! LOL!!!

Queneau's picture

I see your point, nick, but I already know for quite some time that Apple’s core business is switching to lifestyle electronics and gadgets. I'm not a gadget fan myself, and would not be bothered with buying apple if I weren't working on apple for about 10 years now, I have apple software and fonts, and there isn't a better alternative (Windows 7, give me a break....)

What all this has to do with postscript or truetype I don't really understand though.

k.l.'s picture

Does it make a difference if I would convert fonts (either PS or TT) to outlines when I deliver the document to a printer?

Main difference is bigger files. :)

Té Rowan's picture

@Queneau - ^C

oldnick's picture

What all this has to do with postscript or truetype I don't really understand though.

The TrueType format was developed jointly by Microsoft and Apple. You might be amazed (or not) at the reactions I've gotten from many a die-hard Mac fan when they're told this...i.e., an instantaneous upgrade in their estimation of TTFs...

Mark Simonson's picture

Nick, that's not quite right. Apple developed TrueType and then licensed it to Microsoft (in exchange for TrueImage, a page description language that never panned out). Both Apple and Microsoft developed it further from there, Apple with GX/AAT (which to this day only works on Macs) and Microsoft with OpenType.

.00's picture

There are cases where trueType will not be accepted. Many magazine ad departments still forbid the use of TrueTYpe fonts in any pdf ad submissions. No doubt coming from their very conservative printing companies who freaked out over bad TT years ago and never looked at it again.

oldnick's picture

There are cases where trueType will not be accepted. Many magazine ad departments still forbid the use of TrueTYpe fonts in any pdf ad submissions. No doubt coming from their very conservative printing companies who freaked out over bad TT years ago and never looked at it again.

No: no doubt coming from years of disinformation propagated by Adobe, who did not want their monopoly on desktop publishing fonts challenged, even if their original solution was less than elegant (I cannot tell you how many times, when I was working in a print shop, we had to contact customers to get either the printer or screen fonts that they neglected to send with their jobs). And OpenType was developed jointly by Microsoft and Adobe, the latter (finally) admitting that their proprietary format left A LOT to be desired...

Queneau's picture

Well, whatever font-format is best... I have fonts in all of them, and it's good to know they can all be used with good faith (on principle of course, depending on the quality of the font itself, but that's a different matter.

I still have many postscript fonts and they work fine for me, it's just a bit more work. It seems that with the opentype format fonts come with a lot more bells and whistles, which can be understood in a competitive market. But this is not a guarantee for quality. It is certainly easier to implement a lot of these features, but i've seen many commercial OT fonts that have poorly designed weights, bad diacritics, poor spacing and kerning.

So better font formats don't neccesarily produce better fonts, IMHO.

Té Rowan's picture

Nope. Now, if you want to see what many consider a really ugly font format, hunt down the Hershey vector fonts. IIRC, it used only straight lines with no fill-in. Sometimes I wonder if they were the mainstay in the BGI (Borland Graphics Interface) fonts.

Anyway, 'nuff ugliness for now. Better font formats should make it easier (or possible) to do what you want to do with the fonts. Making better fonts we shall have to leave to the font designers.

dezcom's picture

The years of the plotter.

oldnick's picture

(Windows 7, give me a break....)

And this assessment is based on...?

Queneau's picture

My wife and my father both work on new windows computers. In my experience they are slow, complicated in it's file handling and structure. I've worked on windows before I switched to mac, and I find mac's so much easier to handle, much more user friendly, better interface, less likely to clutter up, less susceptible to viruses, etc. It's a personal judgement, but to me, Windows is not an alternative.

ben_archer's picture

Interesting. The last time I saw a TrueType font stall a RIP was in the mid-1990s, however the experience was bad enough to prejudice me against the format for some time. The job crashed the RIP so badly, we lost hours of valuable production time, and it reinforced the (then-widespread) company policy to specify PostScript Type 1 fonts only in client-supplied work, whether they were application files, postscript or .pdf files. In my subsequent teaching practice I would recommend PostScript Type 1 as a more reliable font format overall, until as late as 2004 (I even had a classroom diagram like Janek's).

With the arrival of better RIP technologies, .pdf workflows in pre-press and OpenType (both varieties) this distinction for print purposes has become irrelevant, although I think most font developers now prefer the hinting offered by the TrueType flavour of OpenType for onscreen display. Certainly this is what I understand from reading the literature of companies like Dalton Maag.

hrant's picture

Queneau: I've had the opposite experience with my wife. Her Mac (a company computer, not our money :-) has started to act funny (like the battery/charger is now flaky and misleading) after less than a year, while my Dell turned five years old on Friday and it's still a warhorse. Plus to me pretty design doesn't make up for a fascist, condescending business philosophy.

hhp

oldnick's picture

Queneau: my new Dell has a six-core processor running at 3 gHz, 6 gB of memory, a 1 gB HD video card, 1 tB disk drive, a 16X DVD burner and a THX audio card, all of which cost me less than a grand. Does Apple offer ANYTHING comparable at that price?

Migration from my old computer was a snap--literally. I copied a small program onto a USB stick, snapped it into my old computer, and all of my critical files were transferred seamlessly to my new computer. Plus, with Virtualization, I can run almost ANY program I purchased in the last sixteen years on my new machine at SMOKIN' speeds. Plus, Windows still supports PostScript Type 1 fonts. Can Mac users say this about any Classic OS programs they purchased or, with Snow Leopard, PS fonts?

Windows isn't perfect, but it's far more capable than you give it credit for. Plus, I second Hrant's objection: pretty design doesn't make up for a fascist, condescending business philosophy...

Chris G's picture

They could be giving away machines specced like that for 500 quid and I wouldn't bite, because Windows has the feel of something that was put together on a Friday afternoon before the Christmas holidays.

Just thinking of all the billable hours that would be eaten up keeping a Windows machine running satisfactorily makes it a no no for me.

Mark Simonson's picture

Let's not let this turn into a platform "debate", which would be completely off-topic at best.

For the record, PostScript Type 1 and PS-flavored OT fonts still work and are still supported on the latest version of Mac OS 10.6 (Snow Leopard), despite some recent glitches.

Chris G's picture

My bad! *slaps own wrist*

hrant's picture

Agreed, Mark. And anyway both platforms suck to high heaven compared
to how I imagined things could have been by now, back when I had an Amiga.

hhp

oldnick's picture

Let's not let this turn into a platform "debate", which would be completely off-topic at best.

I agree: I simply get irked by the dimissive attitude ("Windows 7, give me a break") displayed by some who buy into the "my-gizmo-has-a-little-apple-on-it-therefore-iRule: uSuck" propaganda which Apple so assiduously promotes. A computer is a tool: whichever one works best for you is best...for you...

dezcom's picture

It is now 2011. No need to bait, rate, or castigate, the platform you choose not to use. We have heard it all before over the past 25 years.

Kindly reboot back to the topic of the thread.

Queneau's picture

Thanks Mark, for putting us back on thread. Just for the record: I did not at first buy an apple because of the 'propaganda' (all the mac vs. pc stuff had not landed back then), the simple reason was: I worked as a desktop publisher for a year and worked on a mac there. It was one of the oldstyle macs, just as gray on drab as any computer of the day. Then I started studying graphic design, and because I leart everything concerning design on a mac until that point, I bought one of the first iMacs. I then over time transferred to MacMini to (now 6 yr old) iBook. Considering it's age it still works quite well. I've looked at other platforms now, mainly because they are cheaper, but the thought of switching to windows just keeps me from it. I may be biased, but I would have to change my workflow so drastically, that, and my bad experience with windows (95, 2000, Vista)and the fact that macs have been quite reliable for me, just makes me sticking with them. I could not be bothered with a the marketing jadajada surrounding apple (if you knew me personally, you would understand) but it just works for me. that's all. sorry if that got on yr nerves...

oldnick's picture

Queneau,

I'm happy to hear that your experiences with Macs has been overwhelmingly positive. As for me, perhaps I'm one of a fortunate few but, in the twenty years I've been using Windows, I have never once had to re-install the OS, rebuild the desktop or clear the font cache to get my machine to behave the way it's supposed to. And, with all due respect, if you really were immune to the Sizzlemeister's iRule:uSuck drumbeat, you never would have offered the snide aside about Windows 7 which started this silly sidebar in the first place...

dezcom's picture

Ahem,...
It is now 2011. No need to bait, rate, or castigate, the platform you choose not to use. We have heard it all before over the past 25 years.

Kindly reboot back to the topic of the thread.

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