TweetFollow Us on Twitter

Typography
Volume Number:5
Issue Number:10
Column Tag:Developer's Notes
Related Info: Font Manager

New Typographic Frontier

By Frank Alviani, Waukegan, IL

Apple’s New Typographic Universe

At the 1989 Developers’ Conference, Apple revealed an entirely new typographic universe to 1500 eager supporters. The combination of a new font technology, a greatly enhanced line layout manager, and an entirely new printer driver architecture promises to make the Macintosh the premier machine for print-oriented graphics, and open new opportunities for Macintosh developers. The three features are closely related and need to be discussed together to understand the full impact.

Why Outline Fonts?

The two great advantages of outline fonts are the ability to display them nicely at any point size, and their compactness when compared to a reasonably large set of bitmaps. For example, the full set of bitmaps for the (exceptionally nice) Clairvaux font occupies over 200K, while the outline description is estimated to average 40-60K. They are not magic, however - just a shorthand method for describing bitmaps.

Ultimately, all raster devices actually use bitmaps to place the characters of a font into an image; it doesn’t matter whether you’re talking about a 2540 dpi Linotronic imagesetter or a 72 dpi 128K Macintosh. What outline fonts provide is an efficient way to generate a bitmap of a specified character at an arbitrary size that can then be saved and used whenever needed. The “quality” of an outline font system depends on two factors:

1) The quality of the generated bitmap. If the bitmap generated by the process is not visually appealing, nothing else matters.

2) The speed of the generation process. If it takes forever to create a bitmap of a character, who would use that process?

The process of generating a bitmap consists, for both the Apple and Postscript systems, of two basic parts: creating the basic bitmap, and making any small adjustments necessary for the best appearance at small point sizes. Creating the bitmap from an outline description can be visualized as drawing the outline over a grid of small squares, and filling in all the squares that fall at least partially within the outline.

If you carried out this little exercise, you were probably bothered by some of the effects of filling in squares that only partially fell within the outline. This demonstrates the problems encountered with small type on machines with relatively low resolution (large pixels). Small point sizes are a problem for all systems simply because:

1) With low resolution and small point sizes, a single pixel occupies a significant percentage of an image. Therefore, it is important to make sure every pixel is optimally placed.

2) “The jaggies” are unavoidable, but a visual decision on where a pixel looks best sometimes differs from a purely mathematical decision. Naturally, this conflict is more significant when there are only a few pixels to play with.

3) While the idealized pixel is generally square, real world pixels never are, whether you are dealing with a CRT or a LaserWriter imaging drum. This means that corrections must be made to account for the visual effects of the actual pixel shapes on the equipment being used. There are two basic shapes of “real” pixels:

The reason for the different shapes is that in reality all pixels tend to be convex; however, when convex white pixels are drawn over black to define a black pixel, the black pixel is left with concave edges.

One of the major advantages of the Apple outline font system from the artist’s viewpoint is that the entire “hinting” language needed to make the bitmap adjustments is precisely defined in complete detail; this is in contrast to the undocumented system used by Adobe, which has historically given them a small but important advantage over their competitors in image quality. The features included in the hinting language were chosen to include all the features used by the major type foundries, thus making the conversion of fonts by those type foundries to the Apple format as accurate as possible. The result should be a steady flow of very high quality fonts once System 7.0 is in place. In fact, Apple has been working with most of the major type foundries in developing their system.

Another result of Apple’s decision to publish the complete specifications of its outline font system is that we can expect to see one or more font editors enter the market that will allow the artist to completely specify the hinting required for the best possible quality at small point sizes. This levels the playing field and places the competitive emphasis on artistic ability rather than secret technology, which will be to everyone’s benefit in the long run.

Apple’s font descriptions, using quadratic splines, are designed to be simple enough that it is reasonable to use them for interactive displays such as the Macintosh itself; the original Postscript model (which uses Bezier curves - a more complex equation form) is oriented towards printing engines. The fundamental approach is to generate the required bitmaps for an entire size when first requested and cache them; thus, the overhead is only incurred once. Once the bitmaps have been built, the Macintosh text operations are exactly as fast as when using the “old” fonts. “Old style” fonts are completely compatible with the new system. This means that you won’t need to throw out all those nifty display fonts you already have when you install System 7.0

What’s so important about the new Line Layout Manager?

While the new font manager provides very precise control of the shape of letters, the new line layout manager provides some very powerful and impressive capabilities in conjunction with the new font descriptions. One of the primary goals of this manager is to work together with the Text Edit package, using information provided in the font descriptions, to greatly enhance the line layout facilities available to the developer and user. The preliminary description handed out at the Developers’ Conference noted that many of the features of the Layout Manager, while optional in English and other roman-script languages, are mandatory for acceptable text display in many other languages.

There are two basic types of features implemented in the Layout Manager: Positional features, and Non-positional features. As you probably have deduced from the names, the positional features affect horizontal and vertical positioning of characters, while non-positional features primarily affect character shaping. The distinction will become clearer when I list some of the individual items in each group.

Positional Features. These include the types of manipulations traditionally considered part of “fine typography”, such as

• Kerning: This is the most basic positional manipulation. It involves moving a pair of characters (such as T-y) closer together to improve the appearance of the text. When “negative kerning” is done it is often termed letterspacing.

• Optical alignment: This is the adjustment of positioning so that margins are optically correct. The problem arises because of the space surrounding a character that is part of it’s definition.

• Hanging punctuation: Punctuation marks are often placed “outside” the margins since they are optically small so that the optical flushness of the margins looks better. A line ending with a period, for example, seems to be visually slightly ragged.

• Justification and centering: Just what they sound like.

Non-positional features. These are features that concentrate on refining the shape of letters, primarily in response to the immediate context for each letter. Many of these features were difficult to implement, to say the least, with a traditional typesetting system. A partial list of these features includes:

• Ligaturing: This is the combination of two letters into a single graphic, and was traditionally done both for more compact layout and for a more elegant appearance. Common ligatures include “æ”, “œ”, etc.

• Contextual forms: As the name suggests, this is a technique for shaping a letter to look best in a very specific context. For example, a capital ‘L’ with a long low horizontal stroke that goes under the succeeding character is very attractive as long as the succeeding character doesn’t have a descender. With contextual reforming, the Layout Manager can chose a non-underlining form if the succeeding character has a descender. For example:

• Applied marks: These are typically various forms of accents, such as the tilde (~) or accent (‘). There are various styles of positioning these.

• Reordering of graphics: In certain non-roman languages, such as Sanskrit, the order of characters is dominated by their shape, so that the visible order of certain character combinations may not correspond to their logical order. This reordering, fortunately, follows firm rules and not artistic whim.

It should be emphasized that the modifications that can be applied by the Layout Manager happen fast enough to be very real-time. Many of the features of the Layout Manager are specified in the font description, so that the type artist can have precise control over contextual reformatting, for example, which is automatically applied without any intervention by the application.

Certain Text Edit functions are now better carried out by the Layout Manager. In particular, these include the text measuring and caret management functions, which are very dependent on the higher precision supported. Highlighting can now be non-rectangular and non-contiguous, for example. As in FullWrite, a caret in italic text is slanted at the proper angle, which actually serves to make placement much easier.

The combination of the new font descriptions and the power of the Layout Manager gives the Mac user the power to create text with every typographic refinement available to the traditional typesetter, and then some. Up until now, however, everything I’ve talked about seems to have been limited to the screen - so what good does it do when the ink hits the paper?

The New Printing Architecture - Getting It All Down in Black and White.

And other colors as well, of course... Printer drivers have always been one of the sore spots in the Macintosh architecture, being extremely difficult to write well and tending towards instability. Apple’s stated goals for System 7.0 required that the entire internal design approach for these drivers be changed. As a result, the new drivers are totally new code, with considerable advantages.

The new driver structure is explicitly layered into: (1) An I/O layer specialized for a number of device types, (2) A “Food Processor” layer that handles the bulk of the work of dicing, slicing, and chopping the user’s requests into device-specific byte streams, and (3) A specification layer, making up about 10% of a driver, that is actually written by the driver author to describe the hardware-dependent aspects of the device and thus convert generic requests by the user into specific calls to the food processor, where the actual conversions take place.

As shown in the diagram, there are several different devices supported. According to an experienced printer-driver author I spoke to, driving a film recorder is actually the most difficult, due to extremely stringent timing constraints. Perhaps the most interesting from a marketing viewpoint is the “R.I.P.” - the Raster Image Processor that forms the heart of the modern typesetter, or imagesetter. While it was firmly stated that Apple would never license the technology at the core of the image creation process, a Mac II-class machine with an EtherNet card would be very viable as the heart of a relatively low-price high resolution typesetter that could very effectively compete with a Postscript typesetter. I don’t expect that it will take too long for such a device to appear on the market

Unlike the previous structure, the new printer manager is explicitly designed to simplify the task of writing output drivers as much as possible. The authors claimed at the Developers’ Conference that the average time to create a printer driver would decrease from months to days, and that they had created several test drivers in less than a day.

The motivation for the support of 3rd party devices is simple: Apple has decided that support for the widest possible variety of printers, plotters, etc. is necessary to make the Mac the printing platform of choice. As conclusive evidence of this, they revealed that the “print shop” is now committed to actively supporting everyone who wishes to make a Mac-compatible printer - even though they believe that the LaserWriter will lose market share as a result.

There are a number of additional major enhancements to the printing capabilities of the Mac. Among the more important ones are:

• The ability to redirect spooled output after before printing. This means that if a particular LaserWriter turns out to be extremely busy, you can send a waiting document to another printer without having to reprint it. For this alone, most people would be ecstatic.

• The ability to redirect a printed document to a printer of a different type without having to reprint it, and without having the layout recalculated. This may require some cooperation on the part of the application authors; the basic idea is the the application will output both a “final” quality and a “draft” quality version at the same time; the draft quality component will use the layout information for the final quality portion. This means that you can choose a LaserWriter for the final output device, but send the document to an ImageWriter II and get an accurate idea of the final appearance.

• The ability to keep a spooled document after it’s been printed, so that munged pages could be reprinted if necessary.

• Further off in the future (post-System 7.0), support for high-volume remote printing stations that would include multiple output queues (so you could just say “Use the 1st available LaserWriter” rather than having to explicitly pick one), good status reporting, and other features designed to work in an environment such as many large offices.

• Greatly redesigned user-interfaces for the printer dialogs, allowing you to choose a printer from a printer dialog, set a custom page size for a job, and support multiple page types in a single job (such as a #10 envelope and legal paper), among other things.

From the viewpoint of an application developer, there were several critical matters that are being handled properly in the new approach. First, the application’s interface to the printer drivers is structurally identical to the way matters work today, although routine names have been changed to protect the innocent. This means - hopefully - that a simple conversion will be all that’s needed to become printing compatible with System 7.0. Secondly, recognizing that the new functionality is too radically different from that in pre-System 7.0 systems, Apple is making no attempt to make the new drivers work in older systems - which means that past mistakes are not going to be anchors on the new drivers. The downside is that no existing drivers will work under System 7.0, but changing printer drivers is a fairly trivial matter. Finally, the print shop claimed the new drivers are noticeably faster than the older drivers - which cheered everybody.

Perhaps the most important fact was that the print samples shown were of uniformly excellent quality. I once worked for a typesetter manufacturer, and the output I saw at the Developers’ Conference was on a par with “real” typesetters.

What’s ahead in the future?

As if all these developments weren’t enough, a little information about future developments leaked out - just enough to tantalize. The Remote Printing Stations were fairly explicitly described, but we were cautioned that they wouldn’t be ready in time for System 7.0. It was stated that the new font system will support rotated text, but that the current implementation of Quickdraw couldn’ handle it. And finally, somebody in development was overhead mentioning that the resolution-independent version of Quickdraw would support the rotated text, but that an implementation compatible with existing applications was proving difficult and was “a ways off”.

So much for my Robert Cringely imitation; now back to reality

What do these developments actually mean?

The most important outcome from these new developments is that finally a single imaging model will be usable on everything from the Mac screen to a high-resolution imagesetter, eliminating the mis-matches that now make WYSIWYG really mean “What You See Is Almost What You Get”. This gives Apple a dramatic advantage over competing machines, where there are always differences between the screen and hardcopy graphic models, with the ensuing annoyances.

From the users’ viewpoint, the most noticeable immediate change will be that the quality of text on the screen is going to improve dramatically. This should make the Mac even more competitive against the MS-DOS machines. Once the user starts printing documents, the new speed and flexibility should be very pleasing.

It should be emphasized that your Postscript fonts and printers don’t become instantly obsolete with System 7.0. The Postscript drivers are intelligent enough to determine if you are using a resident font and to use that directly, rather than try to stuff the Apple version of Courier into a PostScript printer.

Ultimately, we all win - better output and applications for the user, and a larger market for the developer!

 
AAPL
$116.47
Apple Inc.
+0.16
MSFT
$47.98
Microsoft Corpora
-0.72
GOOG
$537.50
Google Inc.
+2.67

MacTech Search:
Community Search:

Software Updates via MacUpdate

Cobook 3.0.7 - Intelligent address book....
Cobook Contacts is an intuitive, engaging address book. Solve the problem of contact management with Cobook Contacts and its simple interface and powerful syncing and integration possibilities.... Read more
StatsBar 1.9 - Monitor system processes...
StatsBar gives you a comprehensive and detailed analysis of the following areas of your Mac: CPU usage Memory usage Disk usage Network and bandwidth usage Battery power and health (MacBooks only)... Read more
Cyberduck 4.6 - FTP and SFTP browser. (F...
Cyberduck is a robust FTP/FTP-TLS/SFTP browser for the Mac whose lack of visual clutter and cleverly intuitive features make it easy to use. Support for external editors and system technologies such... Read more
Maya 2015 - Professional 3D modeling and...
Maya is an award-winning software and powerful, integrated 3D modeling, animation, visual effects, and rendering solution. Because Maya is based on an open architecture, all your work can be scripted... Read more
Evernote 6.0.1 - Create searchable notes...
Evernote allows you to easily capture information in any environment using whatever device or platform you find most convenient, and makes this information accessible and searchable at anytime, from... Read more
calibre 2.11 - Complete e-library manage...
Calibre is a complete e-book library manager. Organize your collection, convert your books to multiple formats, and sync with all of your devices. Let Calibre be your multi-tasking digital... Read more
Herald 5.0.1 - Notification plugin for M...
Note: Versions 2.1.3 (for OS X 10.7), 3.0.6 (for OS X 10.8), and 4.0.8 (for OS X 10.9) are no longer supported by the developer. Herald is a notification plugin for Mail.app, Apple's Mac OS X email... Read more
Firetask 3.7 - Innovative task managemen...
Firetask uniquely combines the advantages of classical priority-and-due-date-based task management with GTD. Stay focused and on top of your commitments - Firetask's "Today" view shows all relevant... Read more
TechTool Pro 7.0.6 - Hard drive and syst...
TechTool Pro is now 7, and this is the most advanced version of the acclaimed Macintosh troubleshooting utility created in its 20-year history. Micromat has redeveloped TechTool Pro 7 to be fully 64... Read more
PhotoDesk 3.0.1 - Instagram client for p...
PhotoDesk lets you view, like, comment, and download Instagram pictures/videos! (NO Uploads! / Image Posting! Instagram forbids that! AND you *need* an *existing* Instagram account). But you can do... Read more

Latest Forum Discussions

See All

Ubisoft Gives Everyone Two New Ways to E...
Ubisoft Gives Everyone Two New Ways to Earn In-Game Stuff for Far Cry 4 Posted by Jessica Fisher on November 21st, 2014 [ permalink ] | Read more »
Golfinity – Tips, Tricks, Strategies, an...
Dig this: Would you like to know what we thought of being an infinite golfer? Check out our Golfinity review! Golfinity offers unlimited ways to test your skills at golf. Here are a few ways to make sure your score doesn’t get too high and your... | Read more »
Dark Hearts, The Sequel to Haunting Meli...
Dark Hearts, The Sequel to Haunting Melissa, is Available Now Posted by Jessica Fisher on November 21st, 2014 [ permalink ] Universal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad | Read more »
Meowza! Toyze Brings Talking Tom to Life...
Meowza! | Read more »
Square Enix Announces New Tactical RPG f...
Square Enix Announces New Tactical RPG for Mobile, Heavenstrike Rivals. Posted by Jessica Fisher on November 21st, 2014 [ permalink ] With their epic stories and gorgeous graphics, | Read more »
Quest for Revenge (Games)
Quest for Revenge 1.0.0 Device: iOS Universal Category: Games Price: $4.99, Version: 1.0.0 (iTunes) Description: The great Kingdom of the west has fallen. The gods ignore the prayers of the desperate. A dark warlord has extinguished... | Read more »
Threadz is a New Writing Adventure for Y...
Threadz is a New Writing Adventure for You and Your Friends Posted by Jessica Fisher on November 21st, 2014 [ permalink ] In the tradition of round-robin storytelling, | Read more »
SteelSeries Stratus XL Hardware Review
Made by: SteelSeries Price: $59.99 Hardware/iOS Integration Rating: 4 out of 5 stars Usability Rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars Reuse Value Rating: 4.25 out of 5 stars Build Quality Rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars Overall Rating: 4.31 out of 5 stars | Read more »
ACDSee (Photography)
ACDSee 1.0.0 Device: iOS iPhone Category: Photography Price: $1.99, Version: 1.0.0 (iTunes) Description: Capture, perfect, and share your photos with ACDSee. The ACDSee iPhone app combines an innovative camera, a powerful photo... | Read more »
ProTube for YouTube (Entertainment)
ProTube for YouTube 2.0.2 Device: iOS Universal Category: Entertainment Price: $1.99, Version: 2.0.2 (iTunes) Description: ProTube is the ultimate, fully featured YouTube app. With it's highly polished design, ProTube offers ad-free... | Read more »

Price Scanner via MacPrices.net

15″ 2.2GHz Retina MacBook Pro on sale for $17...
 B&H Photo has the 2014 15″ 2.2GHz Retina MacBook Pro on sale today for $1749. Shipping is free, and B&H charges NY sales tax only. B&H will also include free copies of Parallels Desktop... Read more
27-inch 3.5GHz 5K iMac in stock today and on...
 B&H Photo has the new 27″ 3.5GHz 5K iMac in stock today and on sale for $2299 including free shipping plus NY sales tax only. Their price is $200 off MSRP, and it’s the lowest price available... Read more
21-inch 1.4GHz iMac on sale for $979, save $1...
B&H Photo has the new 21″ 1.4GHz iMac on sale for $979.99 including free shipping plus NY sales tax only. Their price is $120 off MSRP. B&H will also include free copies of Parallels Desktop... Read more
13-inch 1.4GHz/256GB MacBook Air on sale for...
B&H Photo has lowered their price on the 13″ 1.4GHz/256GB MacBook Air to $1059.99 including free shipping plus NY sales tax only. Their price is $140 off MSRP, and it’s the lowest price for this... Read more
Save up to $400 with Apple refurbished 2014 1...
The Apple Store has restocked Apple Certified Refurbished 2014 15″ Retina MacBook Pros for up to $400 off the cost of new models. An Apple one-year warranty is included with each model, and shipping... Read more
New 13-inch 1.4GHz MacBook Air on sale for $8...
 Adorama has the 2014 13″ 1.4GHz/128GB MacBook Air on sale for $899.99 including free shipping plus NY & NJ tax only. Their price is $100 off MSRP. B&H Photo has the 13″ 1.4GHz/128GB MacBook... Read more
Apple Expected to Reverse Nine-Month Tablet S...
Apple and Samsung combined accounted for 62 percent of the nearly 36 million branded tablets shipped in 3Q 2014, according to early vendor shipment share estimates from market intelligence firm ABI... Read more
Stratos: 30 Percent of US Smartphone Owners t...
Stratos, Inc., creator of the Bluetooth Connected Card Platform, has announced results from its 2014 Holiday Mobile Payments Survey. The consumer survey found that nearly one out of three (30 percent... Read more
2014 1.4GHz Mac mini on sale for $449, save $...
 B&H Photo has lowered their price on the new 1.4GHz Mac mini to $449.99 including free shipping plus NY tax only. Their price is $50 off MSRP, and it’s the lowest price available for this new... Read more
Check Apple prices on any device with the iTr...
MacPrices is proud to offer readers a free iOS app (iPhones, iPads, & iPod touch) and Android app (Google Play and Amazon App Store) called iTracx, which allows you to glance at today’s lowest... Read more

Jobs Board

*Apple* Solutions Consultant (ASC) - Apple (...
**Job Summary** The ASC is an Apple employee who serves as an Apple brand ambassador and influencer in a Reseller's store. The ASC's role is to grow Apple Read more
*Apple* Solutions Consultant (ASC)- Retail S...
**Job Summary** The ASC is an Apple employee who serves as an Apple brand ambassador and influencer in a Reseller's store. The ASC's role is to grow Apple Read more
Project Manager, *Apple* Financial Services...
**Job Summary** Apple Financial Services (AFS) offers consumers, businesses and educational institutions ways to finance Apple purchases. We work with national and Read more
*Apple* Store Leader Program - College Gradu...
Job Description: Job Summary As an Apple Store Leader Program agent, you can continue your education as you major in the art of leadership at the Apple Store. You'll Read more
*Apple* Retail - Multiple Positions (US) - A...
Sales Specialist - Retail Customer Service and Sales Transform Apple Store visitors into loyal Apple customers. When customers enter the store, you're also the Read more
All contents are Copyright 1984-2011 by Xplain Corporation. All rights reserved. Theme designed by Icreon.