True type vs. PS-Fonts?

Subject: True type vs. PS-Fonts?
From: "Hart, Geoff" <Geoff-H -at- MTL -dot- FERIC -dot- CA>
To: "Techwr-L (E-mail)" <TECHWR-L -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>, "'Sturzenegger Ivo'" <STURZENI -at- CH -dot- sibt -dot- com>
Date: Wed, 26 Jul 2000 08:40:20 -0400

Ivo Sturzenegger (welcome to the list!) wonders: <<We frequently use the
Adobe Acrobat to convert any kind of documents into the PDF format... can
someone me explain the different between True type and Postscript fonts,
since I am using these kind of fonts every day ?>>

The two font technologies are more similar than different: both use
mathematical equations to describe the shapes of letters and symbols instead
of using bitmaps (like the old printer fonts); as a result, you can scale
(enlarge or reduce) the fonts as much as you want without losing the
smoothness of the basic shapes of the letters. There are arguments for and
against both formats: for example, Truetype arguably uses superior
algorithms to define the letters and is better supported under Windows, but
Postscript fonts are often more mature and better designed.

These factors aside, Postscript fonts win hands down when it comes to
publishing for a few reasons: First, they're the industry standard for
publishing, and have been for something like 15 years; as a result, print
service bureaus and printers have more than a decade of experience working
with them, have fewer problems producing documents created with Postscript
fonts, and generally know what to do when they encounter a problem. Second,
Truetype is not a graphics language, and Postscript is; that means a
Postscript-based production process can use a single language (Postscript)
to describe both fonts and graphics, whereas using Truetype fonts makes
things more complicated by adding in at least one more graphics language
(whether Postscript for the graphics or Windows Metafiles or some other
format). When something goes wrong, guess which approach is easier to debug?
(For example, we often find Truetype fonts used in graphics created in Corel
are truncated slightly but noticeably when we print them out.) Finally,
although Acrobat usually works well with Truetype fonts, Adobe only
guarantees that it will work optimally with Type I Postscript fonts, and
there are some persistent Acrobat bugs related to the use of Truetype fonts
(e.g., the infamous "one letter is missing throughout this document" bug).

Adobe and Microsoft are working on a new type specification that will let
both types of fonts coexist at the level of the operating system
("OpenType"?), but this isn't yet finalized and part of the Mac and Windows
operating systems. Once it is, there will be better support for Truetype,
but we're not there yet, and like any new specification or standard, it may
take a few years to work out all the bugs.

--Geoff Hart, FERIC, Pointe-Claire, Quebec
geoff-h -at- mtl -dot- feric -dot- ca

"Technical writing... requires understanding the audience, understanding
what activities the user wants to accomplish, and translating the often
idiosyncratic and unplanned design into something that appears to make
sense."--Donald Norman, The Invisible Computer

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