At war with fonts?

The very addictive online game Typewar recently moved to an iPhone app. At the same time, some Snow Leopard users may find themselves on the systemware warpath with its missing support for older font standards.

The very addictive online game Typewar recently moved to an iPhone app. At the same time, some Snow Leopard users may find themselves on the systemware warpath with its missing support for older font standards.

Typewar is Eldarion's game that tests your knowledge of type faces. It puts up a letter and asks you whether it's from one font or another. And by becoming a member, you can see if you're at the head of the class. Now, it's a $1.99 iPhone game.

At the same time, some font-savvy Mac users in the hardcopy publishing business may want to take it slow when considering moving to Snow Leopard. The issue surrounds changes in support of the now ancient Postscript Type 1 standard.

Mac OS X Leopard brought a new type handling technology: Core Text. Leopard also supported the older Apple Type Services engine that handled font management, layout and rendering. Core Text is way faster and 64-bit clean. Apple warned developers that they should shift to Core Text for font handling.

However, it appears that the correct handling of old Postscript Type 1 fonts was left behind in that move. The font metrics of text using the old PS1 fonts will be incorrect — in other words, the line spacing and letter height and width will be screwed up.

Now, what Adobe wants is for customers with older type collections is to upgrade to OpenType collections. This may be a considerable cost depending on your needs, more than $1,000. I know that there are a number of conversion utilities including FontGear's $99.99 FontXChange and FontLab's $179 TransType Pro.  However, I suggest that the time you will spend tweaking settings, along with testing the reliability of converted fonts should be considered carefully when evaluating any cost savings presented by these solutions.

On the type front, I found Kurt Lang's online how-to Font Management in OS X very interesting. It's aimed at prepress and publishing professionals who must manage many different fonts, some of which have the same name. It also runs down the required fonts in each system iteration as well those required by flavors of Microsoft Office.

Lang offers this tip for potential free fonts in the shrinkwrap Snow Leopard disk:

In an apparent production error, the retail Snow Leopard disk includes fonts intended for iWork, even if you didn't purchase the Box Set. In the /Library/Application Support/Apple/Fonts/iWork/ folder, you will find 25 .dfonts, which comprise a total of 37 individual type faces. Because of the folder they are in, they are not automatically seen or used by the system. However, you can open them with any font manager in the usual manner, giving you some unexpected extra free fonts. This isn't a bonus for everyone though. These fonts will only activate in Snow Leopard. Any earlier versions of OS X cannot use them. Not even Leopard. If you wish to obtain these fonts for Leopard or earlier, you can install the iWork '09 trial. It will install copies of these same 25 .dfonts, which do work in previous versions or OS X.