TrueType, PostScript & OpenType: What's the difference?

Enthusiast ,
May 20, 2004 May 20, 2004

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Attached is the latest version of my article on font formats, for your reference.

Cheers,

T

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New Here ,
May 28, 2004 May 28, 2004

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Thomas,

Thanks for sharing that document. It's printing out as we speak.
It came at a perfect time for me. In my search for knowledge I found an article referring to those categories of type and I didn't understand what they were saying. I came here to try to find clarification!

Patty

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Enthusiast ,
May 29, 2004 May 29, 2004

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I hope you find it useful. My goal was to be at a level of depth and thoroughness well beyond the typical magazine piece, pretty technical but not assuming you're a programmer or anything. Also to be very accurate -- most magazine articles in this area have plenty of errors.

I'm already making a few revisions - I revise it pretty regularly, one of the reasons it's pretty accurate. One of the main things I'm adding is a set of links for more info.

Cheers,

T

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Explorer ,
May 31, 2004 May 31, 2004

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Thomas,

Many thanks for keeping this valuable resource up to date.

Neil

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New Here ,
May 31, 2004 May 31, 2004

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b "I hope you find it useful. My goal was to be at a level of depth and thoroughness well beyond the typical magazine piece, pretty technical..."

Thomas,

I am very much a "newbie" to this world. I found your article to be a well written, technical information piece, that introduced me to "font technology" and gave me valuable insight.

It "scared" me too. The technological advancements of software and the necessary integration of output devices is daunting.

b Is it unreasonable for a "newbie" to hope that technology will work out the issues to settle and integrate???

Patty

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Enthusiast ,
Jun 01, 2004 Jun 01, 2004

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Well, first off it seems that there have always been, and will always be, font problems of one sort or another. Even for the relatively older parts of the technology, like Type 1.

That being said, I've been pleasantly surprised by how well we've pulled off the most troublesome parts of the transition to OpenType. It has gone more smoothly and with fewer compatibility problems than I dreamed possible. If one compares this to the launches of GX or TrueType, we're doing very nicely indeed.

Yes, there are still rough points for fonts. For example, OS X's support for both Type 1 and PostScript flavored OpenType is, well, a little uneven at best. But Apple has proven to be reasonably good at fixing problems and responding to their omissions over time, and I expect by the time we're at OS XI or thereabouts, everything will be in decent shape.

My best guess is that in another 3-5 years Unicode and OpenType support will be pretty much a given in the then-current versions of applications. By that time, we'll be starting to think about the end of life for Type 1 as a format. So I suppose there will always be things to worry about!

Cheers,

T

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Explorer ,
Jun 01, 2004 Jun 01, 2004

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Thomas,
>By that time, we'll be starting to think about the end of life for Type 1 as a format.

You know that there will be folks griping over this -- even though Type 1 fonts, as software products -- will have served and survived for about two decades, virtually unchanged technically; virtually without compatibility problems with each new iteration of a computer OS and applications. And there could never have been any way to anticipate the various environments these fonts would have had to work under all these years. That's pretty good mileage for a software product. Offhand, I can't think of any other commonly used software that comes even close.

Pretty remarkable.

Neil

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New Here ,
Jun 01, 2004 Jun 01, 2004

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Thomas and Neil,

It wasn't my intent for my posting to come across as a criticism of Adobe's incredible font technology advancements. It was more from the standpoint of being a "dedicated newbie" and trying hard to learn all of this "stuff".

I'm 48 years old, with over 25 years of employment in the business/financial world. My career path that was all mapped out until retirement age, came to an abrupt end. The big bucks entrepreneur that I worked for died at 60 years young---and my whole world changed.

I didn't want to "start over" in the business world--pretty sick of the stress and anguish. So, I have a goal for myself in the computer graphics world as a freelance person targeting a local specific market.

b (Yeah, I know--me and everyone else that owns a computer and "paint software.")

But, I'm different because I'm approaching this "creative dream" from a business standpoint. I own the Adobe Creative Suite--those are my tools that I now need to become proficient with. I'm taking classes at the local Junior College, I have purchased the Total Training Software package for the CS suite. One of the most valuable training aids I have discovered is the Adobe forums. There are so many talented people that generously give of their time and expertise.

b All I'm saying is that I somehow need to sort through all of this massive technology and be able to perform well at a target area of knowledge that I intend to be my "niche" in the marketplace. Sort of like, "I put the key in the ignition of my car and drive." It's not necessary that I understand how the engine works.

I want to establish a working relationship with the "appropriate printers" in my local area and understand what I need to do to create
design files that are cost efficient to print with minimal hassle.

I would love to have a small selection of fonts to choose from with my inexperienced level that would expand with my knowledge.

I've finished my first "read through" of the Bringhurst book that Thomas recommended as well as Felici's book, "The Complete Manual of Typography." Now I understand that the "art" of Typography is even more complex than my first overwhelmed thought process.

This is very difficult.

Patty

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Explorer ,
Jun 02, 2004 Jun 02, 2004

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Patty,

My remarks were never intended as a criticism of you -- just a general remark targeted at others who, under some misguided notion, feel that "fonts are forever" and that even two decades of use of such software without requiring any upgrades is not enough.

I think your brave lifestyle move is admirable, and please know that we're here for you.

Neil

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New Here ,
Jun 02, 2004 Jun 02, 2004

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Patty,

We're in a similar place, but I'm a year older. Two years ago I was a Unix Admin. then the bottom dropped out of the telecommunication business I worked for and I was laid off with 2/3 of the IT staff. I took a look at what I was doing and why and realized that the only reason I was doing that job was the money. When I thought about the many years I was an Architectural Drafter I remember being more concerned about how the drawing looked and "read" than what was being built. Sort of graphic design without knowing it was graphic design.

My whole life I have done art in one form or another and decided that if I was ever going to turn this innate talent into a career now is the time. I'm currently enrolled at Augsburg College in Minneapolis Minnesota. They don't have a dedicated graphic design degree so I'm going for a Fine Art degree. You are right the generous people in this and other forums are great teachers and mentors to us newcomers.

Steve

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New Here ,
Jun 02, 2004 Jun 02, 2004

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Neil,

Okay, good. I was afraid I had come across badly.

Steve, nice to meet you. We can "learn together".

I wanted to share a funny story. The other day my husband picked up a rate sheet at a local resort. Over brunch, I was looking at it and criticizing all of the typographical and layout problems. My husband started laughing, "Patty, it's just a rate sheet!" Then we both laughed. Six months ago, I never would have even noticed the problems! But, it makes me wonder, does the "average" person notice this sort of thing. IMO, if a place charges $150 - 200 for a room--shouldn't their printed material be equal to the status of the resort?

So Neil, would it be appropriate for me to post a link to the scanned material to ask questions to learn. For instance, why would they use capital letters here and this sort of punctuation type questions. I would black out any reference to names and phone numbers to "protect the identity of the poor designer." hee hee

Patty

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Explorer ,
Jun 02, 2004 Jun 02, 2004

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Sure, Patty, post a link to a scanned graphic. And ask your questions. I promise you will get some frank, honest opinions from the gang here.

To answer a couple of your questions, no, most folks won't notice bad design in any tangible way -- although they'll gripe if it is confusing or full of spelling and grammar errors. (When have you ever heard anyone -- except a designer -- complain about the appearance of a restaurant take-out menu, store shopping bag, or Yellow Pages ad?) But these same folks will appreciate good design, although they may not be able to articulate why.

Certainly, if a resort is trying to establish a particular level of quality, or if it charges more than Motel 6 for a night's stay, appropriate, well-thought out, appropriate graphics and layout and intelligent copy go a long way to reinforcing its upscale persona. Actually, they'd go a long way to defining Motel 6 as a good, clean, economical place to stay where families can feel welcome and comfortable -- not like they're staying in some sleazy truck stop.

You're inventing an identifiable personality for the establishment that establishes an appropriate comfort level for the intended audience that includes good value for money spent. As a designer, it is your job to successfully pull together the graphics, colors, copy, typography, layout, and stock and size choices -- not everything is two columns of CMYK on 8.5"x11" bright white, gloss coated pages.

Neil

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Participant ,
Jun 02, 2004 Jun 02, 2004

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Patty

I don't want to speak for Neil, but I think you will gain more by posting a link to something you think is good, and letting the experts here comment on it. After all, you already know what is bad about the rate sheet. Posting something that looks good to you, or at least OK, might open your eyes to some new errors and inconsistencies in design, furthering your education.

(Of course, I would post it in a new thread, as we are getting terribly off topic on this one.)

Don

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Explorer ,
Jun 02, 2004 Jun 02, 2004

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Patty,

I agree on all points with Don.

Please start a new thread with a link to a sample image that you have questions about. What I'll do after you start it is move any appropriate comments from this topic to the new one.

Actually, if the issues are more design and less typographic in nature, I recommend that you post in the Print Design forum (found by clicking on the "Design Discussion" link).

Neil

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New Here ,
Jun 02, 2004 Jun 02, 2004

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Great, I'll start a new thread.

Thanks,

Patty

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Enthusiast ,
Jun 02, 2004 Jun 02, 2004

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I will add one thing before going off to troll for the other thread:

My strongest advice for beginners is that besides learning the software and the technical stuff, don't neglect real training in graphic design and typography.

I can tell Patty is already headed in that direction, but I just wanted to spell it out for others reading the thread.

Regards,

T

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New Here ,
Jun 03, 2004 Jun 03, 2004

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I agree with Neil, I think people judge design without stopping to think why they make a decision about the quality of a business. Presentation says a lot about something, attention to detail. If the business is sloppy with their rate sheet, or their brochure they are probably sloppy in other aspects of the business. Perhaps sloppy isn't the right word but hopefully you get my drift.

Oh, another glaring example is a drive down a business strip. It is easy to tell the fast-food places for the white linen ones.

JM2CW

Steve

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New Here ,
Jun 23, 2004 Jun 23, 2004

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Very Informative. Thx.

One suggestion - would be great to have a summary table
with short explanations with advantages and disadvantages etc...

+S+

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New Here ,
Jul 19, 2004 Jul 19, 2004

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Thomas - thank you for the very informative information of the history of fonts. It was what I needed to fill in some missing gaps. I do have a question for those who have do professional print work.

I am thinking about switching (slowly) to open type fonts. The problem is my printer still says they really only "officially" take postscript type1 fonts and caution to avoid putting postscript and trutype fonts on the same page. In actuallity, we have been putting postscript and trytype fonts on the same page for years with no problems - and they just upgraded their RIPs significantly and no all our PDF's print like a breeze on their RIPs. This makes me wonder if I would have any problems at all if I used mainly open type fonts - to save my headache of managing my postscript fonts (I manage 30 machines so doing it one-by-one is not easy and I am not happy with any OSX fonts management systems so far).

Any of those with good or bad experience would be appreciated.

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Jul 19, 2004 Jul 19, 2004

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(1) In terms of what a RIP sees, an OpenType font looks like either a Type 1 font or a TrueType (Type 42) font in terms of what is inside either a PostScript or PDF file.

(2) This thing about "problems of having Type 1 and TrueType fonts on the same page" is urban legend. We've heard these stories over the years but have yet to see one substantiated case of RIP problems (Adobe or clone) due to same. What is true is that you should not have both Type 1 and TrueType fonts with the same EXACT font name even installed on your systems, much less used within the same page or document.

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

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New Here ,
Jul 19, 2004 Jul 19, 2004

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Dov - in regards to point 2, that is what I hope to accomplish by switching to opentype. I have found it very difficult to manage the various postscript (with screen and printer fonts) to ensure I don't have same name Trutype fonts. With Adobe and many other foundaries offering open type fonts it is looking like a much better option. Thank you for the input.

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Explorer ,
Jul 19, 2004 Jul 19, 2004

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I've had the opposite experience. I can't remember the last time I had problems with TrueType fonts and PostScript fonts sharing the exact same name. I've found even common fonts like Times New Roman have slightly different names for TT and T1 versions.

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Guide ,
Jul 19, 2004 Jul 19, 2004

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Dominic,
>I've had the opposite experience.

If you were on the Mac platform, however :)

Fonts with duplicative names will even bring your machine down.

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Explorer ,
Jul 20, 2004 Jul 20, 2004

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Interesting. In this case, I wonder why Mac TT and T1 fonts share the same name so often when it's not, to my knowledge, common in Windows fonts (talking quality fonts here, of course).

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Jul 21, 2004 Jul 21, 2004

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Apple purposely duplicated the names for the "base" fonts in PostScript printers for their host-based TrueType fonts without any consideration for the ramifications going forward and even after warnings of the damage they cause. When Microsoft produced their set of "set width compatible" fonts emulating fonts in PostScript printers, they used "knockoffs" with different names, thus avoiding problem that the Macintosh, out-of-the-box, has.

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

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