Font converter

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Feb 08, 2011 Feb 08, 2011

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Has anyone used FontXchange or Trans Type Pro for converting pc fonts to open type fonts? Are there issues with special characters and glyphs? I need to purchase one of these and was wanting to get some feedback on which works the best. I know they can both do this but was wondering if people preferred one over the other and why.

Thanks in advance for any tips you can provide.

-Kristie

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Advocate ,
Feb 09, 2011 Feb 09, 2011

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Kristie,

Apart from legal issues, just recently someone had major problems with a converted font, especially with non-ASCII characters. If the old font you plan to convert are from the old PostScript days, they do not contain any Unicode information, and modern font requires this information to work seamlessly in all applications. Therefore all converters have to rely on mapping tables or best guesses. Only one glitch in the original font may break the result. And think about it, if you convert it yourself, there is no one you can go to and complain (… ask for a fix, I meant to say).

If you have to move a font into a more modern format, I would rather recommend to use a font editor (Type Tool, Fontographer, FontLab), because with such a tool you may be able to fix certain things that may go wrong.

- Michael

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Enthusiast ,
Feb 09, 2011 Feb 09, 2011

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Hi,

Speaking as a font production geek who has dealt with this issue a lot, I have a number of thoughts.

1) Why do you need to convert the font in the first place? When you write "PC fonts," do you mean TTF TrueType fonts? A few things to be aware of:

- Windows TTFs are already legal and functional fonts on the Mac as well

- OpenType fonts can have TrueType outlines and use the TTF extension

- The "difference" between plain TrueType and OpenType TrueType is one of degree and added features. Very few of these features can be added automatically by converting the fonts (also true when converting TTF > OTF).

2) In most cases, the license terms of the fonts do not allow such conversions. Adobe is an exception, but few other commercial fonts allow it.

3) Any homebrew conversion you do will almost certainly yield fonts which are not identical with the "equivalent" OpenType fonts from the original foundry. If you will be working with other people in your workflows who are using those fonts, that could be a problem. Among other things, the names will typically differ.

4) If you aren't already a font geek, using a tool such as FontLab to do the conversion may not help much, because you won't know what things to change. Plus it costs hundreds of dollars more. For the non-expert, you are probably better off using an automated conversion tool which has reasonable default settings. I've been pretty happy with TransType (which is from the folks who make FontLab), but FontXChange is from a partner of ours (FontGear) with a long history of sophisticated font tools, so I expect it is a fine product as well.

5) As Michael says, if the input fonts are PostScript Type 1, or for that matter just badly made, there may be related issues with the conversion. I have rarely seen such issues unless the input font has an especially non-standard character set. For example, if you have a font that essentially "lies" about the characters or encoding, that will not likely convert properly to Unicode.

Cheers,

T

Thomas Phinney

Sr Product Mgr, Fonts & Typography

Extensis, a division of Celartem Inc.

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Feb 09, 2011 Feb 09, 2011

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On behalf of Adobe, I most strongly endorse Thomas' response!

          - Dov

- Dov Isaacs, former Adobe Principal Scientist (April 30, 1990 - May 30, 2021)

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Advocate ,
Feb 09, 2011 Feb 09, 2011

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if you have a font that essentially "lies" about the characters or encoding

I would like to explain this, because maybe here in Europe we see that stuff happen more often than elsewhere. There are fonts flying around (from pre-Unicode days, like 198x or 199x) containing Eastern European or Cyrillic or Greek glyphs, but they are encoded like any old Western font. At the position 196 in a Western font you’ll find the letter "Ä" (Adieresis, LATIN CAPITAL LETTER A WITH DIAERESIS).

But a "lying" font with Cyrillic glyphs might show "Д" (CYRILLIC CAPITAL LETTER DE) at position 196. In a printed object this might be fine, but in a PDF the character would not be findable and of course your conversion will fail.

- Michael

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