3.489 Mac fonts (101)

Willard McCarty (MCCARTY@vm.epas.utoronto.ca)
Sun, 24 Sep 89 15:24:05 EDT

Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 3, No. 489. Sunday, 24 Sep 1989.

Date: Fri, 22 Sep 89 10:47:22 EDT
From: Brian Whittaker <BRIANW@YORKVM2>
Subject: Re: 3.481 responses: phds, batteries, fonts & more (345)


The Macintosh is probably the easiest computer to use for the development
of new fonts or for adding exotic characters to existing fonts, since the
MAC treats all output to screen or paper as graphic output. That is, the
computer *draws* everything, including letters and numbers. This is why
Apple has never marketed a daisy-wheel printer for the MAC. This approach
makes it relatively simple to add a new letter or even have assign a key to
display and print a logo or picture.

There are at present three major categories of font in use with the Macintosh,
bit-mapped, Bitstream and Postscript. Bitstream fonts are used chiefly with
middle-range printers, including ink-jet and modestly priced lasers; as far
as I know, there is no easy way for a user to create or modify a Bitstream
font. Bit-mapped fonts are used for the output to the screen and to dot-matrix
printers (Apple Imagewriter I and II, Imagewriter LQ); bit-mapped fonts for
the MAC are conventionally named after cities, hence GENEVA, NEW YORK,
CHICAGO, BOSTON. Postscript fonts are used mainly for output to
Postscript-compatible laser printers or to the high-resolution printers used
by large printing houses; Postscript fonts are derivations of the type faces
we are familiar with from books and magazines, and have traditional
names like Times, Helvetica, New Baskerville, Bookman.

FONTASTIC, from Altsys corporation, is the best-known program for editing
bit-mapped fonts, and may be used for adding new characters or creating an
entirely new font. I believe the price is around a hundred dollars. The
display for working on a character is similar to the enlarged display
available with most "paint" programs, and the user is able to build the
character using a limited palette of line-drawing tools and by adding and
deleting individual dots.

One characteristic of the way the Macintosh prints text is that when set to
"Best" quality printing it seeks out double the size of type selected in the
word processor and reduces the characters to half height and half width, thus
printing the letters with four times as many dots of one quarter the original
size, for a significant gain in resolution. Thus if you format text in 12pt
New York, the computer will print it using 24pt New York shrunk to one-
quarter size; if the double-size font is not in the system, the output will
be in poor quality 12-pt. This is the way the Imagewriter I and II work; the
Imagewriter LQ works in a similar fashion, but uses triple-sized fonts for even
higher resolution. Another consequence of this system is that the individual
characters in the double-sized font must be exactly twice as wide as the
corresponding characters in the primary font ("a" in 24pt New York must be
exactly twice as many dots wide, including the space before and after, as
"a" in 12pt New York, otherwise the correspondence between the length of the
line of type on screen and in the printout will break down, with consequent
chaos in word-wrap and hyphenation. Simple mathematics shows that a set
of fonts developed with this double-size correspondence will not work well
on an Imagewriter LQ, which requires a similar correspondence for triple-size
characters, nor will a set of fonts developed for the LQ work well with the
Imagewriter I and II.

FONTOGRAPHER, also from Altsys, is the best-known program for editing
Postscript fonts on the Macintosh. It works like the "draw" programs,
allowing the user to manipulate an enlarged graphic on the screen, then
storing the result as a mathematical fomula, such as centre point and
radius for a circle, rather than recording the location of each individual
dot. This method produces a character that can be easily scaled up or down,
So it is only necessary to develop one character set, whereas with bit-mapped
fonts, a separate character set must be developed for each size. However,
since most Macintosh screens display bit-mapped fonts, it is generally
necessary to develop a set of bit-mapped display fonts to correspond to the
Postscript printing font in order to maintain correspondence between display
and output. (There are typesetting programs that allow the user to define
the format of the printout independently of the appearance of the screen,
but people usually buy Macintoshes because they like a reasonably accurate
on-screen preview of what the final product will look like.)

Beyond these mechanical considerations, there are more interesting design
criteria, but I fear this message is rather long already.

I have developed Old English characters (thorn, eth, yogh) as well as a few
usefull extras, like a one-pixel space for aligning things precisely, for
the sizes of the New York typeface distributed by Apple (9, 10, 12, 14, 18,
20, 24 and 36pt) as well as full character sets for 28 and 40pt New York,
to make it possible to print 14 and 20pt. in "Best" quality. I am considering
doing the same for 48, 56 and 72pt. New York to make "Best" quality printing
possible in 24, 28 and 36pt. I am quite willing to share the results of
my labours if there is any interst.

(Having argued last week for the place of scholarly, non-computer messages
on Hunamist, I thought perhaps I should do penance by contributing something
on the technical side.)

Brian Whittaker
Department of English, Atkinson College, York University
Downsview, Ontario.