RE: Symbol Font Considered Harmful

Subject: RE: Symbol Font Considered Harmful
From: "Andrew Warren" <awarren -at- synaptics -dot- com>
To: "Fred Ridder" <docudoc -at- hotmail -dot- com>, <mike -at- writestarr -dot- com>, <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com>
Date: Fri, 3 Nov 2006 13:10:30 -0800

Fred Ridder wrote:

> the lower-case mu .... is character 181 (0xB5) in the
> ISO-8859-1 character set, .... so I suppose this makes
> the mu a Unicode character in one sense, but Unicode
> encoding is *not* required to handle a mu in any
> normal application

True. That's why I prefer that character, which the
Unicode spec actually calls "micro", to the (usually
identical-looking) one that it calls "mu", for which
Unicode encoding IS required.

> I disagree with the opinion that Symbol font is a greater
> evil and causes more problems than Unicode. For example,
> a number of applications in wide use (e.g. FrameMaker)
> do not (yet?) support Unicode at all

Hmm... In my caffeine-fueled rush to post my rant, I
might have left out a couple of sentences that would
have clarified my point.

In my opinion, an application that doesn't support
my font at all -- whether its lack of support is
demonstrated by missing symbols, symbols replaced by
little black boxes, or even outright crashes -- is
VASTLY preferable to an application that sneaks
through my document and silently multiplies all numbers
in it by 1000.

Lack of Unicode support can be seen; once seen, it can
be corrected or worked around. The mu-to-m error CAN'T
be seen; it just silently happens, and no one knows
about it until parts stop fitting together, or products
start failing, or a million pieces of the wrong
component get ordered, etc.

> if your deliverables are PDF files that have the fonts
> embedded (which should be standard practice IMO) there is
> no downside to using Symbol font.

True... UNLESS the mu-to-m error happens BEFORE the
conversion to PDF. Judging from the number of omega-to-W
errors I see in PDFs and in published books and articles,
this happens all the time.


=== Andrew Warren - awarren -at- synaptics -dot- com
=== Synaptics, Inc - Santa Clara, CA

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