For years, my colleagues and I have been using a font called Chartwell to produce emotional intelligence reports for our community-based clients. It's worked really well for us as we needed a cheap solution to be able to mail merge charts in Microsoft Word and output them to PDF. To make it work, you have to enable ligatures in your word processor.
(Details on font here: http://image.linotype.com/files/fontshop/FF%20Chartwell%202.0%20User%20Manual.pdf)
Recently, we have started to automate our workflow. It seems that the online versions of Microsoft Word are unable to a) handle custom fonts and b) handle ligatures of any fonts (grrrr). So, we decided to investigate if we could bypass Word altogether and create a PDF form with the functionality we need. We thought we could place our font-based Chartwell charts in a text field and use a combination of Microsoft Flow and Adobe Sign to fill the document with our assessment data.
Using Acrobat DC, I was able to figure out how to use the Chartwell font in a text field and programmatically change the colours to set the text up the way I need it (I felt like a boss for that part). But I cannot figure out how to activate the ligatures necessary to properly render the charts. I've dug through the SDK looking for methods, even tried installing a trial version of InDesign to see if I could turn them on there and go back to Acrobat to edit the form (but apparently you can't edit PDFs in InDesign - never used it before so I didn't know).
Can anybody out there help me to:
b) rethink my strategy/software without having to junk my Chartwell fonts (our clients have come to expect the presentation) - i.e., maybe Acrobat is just the wrong tool and I need something else
Thanks so much!
Ligatures are not a feature of PDF at ANY level. Not in form fields, not in page text, nowhere. If you _see_ ligatures it is because the PDF creation process generated ligatures. (Just as, for example, PDF files do not hyphenate at any level, but you will see hyphenated text because the PDF creation process put it there).
Some ligatures are well defined, for example fi is a standard code in most quality fonts because it is part of the Mac Roman character set, as well as having the standard Unicode point U+FB01. Other ligatures are font specific, and rely on private areas of Uncode.
Thank you for the quick response. So what I'm hearing is, if we want to be able to automate our existing workflow, we can't do it in a PDF directly. I need to look for an online source application that can handle ligatures, and a compatible PDF creation process that can retain them, is that correct?
No, that's not what I'm saying. I am saying that if you want to use ligature glyphs YOU have to do all the conversion done by any other creation app that supports ligatures, replacing character pairs or groups with the correct Unicode point - based on detailed knowledge of the font you are working with. However, I'd always recommend going with a "full service" PDF creation, most PDF creation tasks tend to end up being a lot more work than anyone would imagine (I know from long and bitter experience...)