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Truth in PostScript

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Well, the font wars aren't exactly over, but a major flag-waving went on recently when Apple and Adobe reconciled their differences. That's literally all anyone knows because Apple and Adobe announced that they would be working more closely. This of course leaves the entire issue open for speculating, which I intend to enjoy doing.

Consider the major players in this whole fiasco, Apple, Adobe, and Microsoft. Others have interests and even some sway, but the entire battle was between those three. Apple and Microsoft announced that they were working on TrueType, a display font rasterizer to compete with Adobe Type Manager (now available for both the Mac and Windows). In addition, they would use TrueImage, a PostScript clone owned by Microsoft, instead of licensing PostScript from Adobe. This scared Adobe into releasing the specs on its proprietary encrypted Type 1 fonts, so now font vendors can be selected among based on price and quality since everyone can have Type 1 fonts.

The problem with TrueType is not its technical design, but simply the amount of time that goes into creating a font rasterizer. Adobe knows the business better than most, and Apple and Microsoft had to recreate what Adobe has done for the most part. Once Adobe released the Type 1 specs (and many say once Jean-Louis Gassee left Apple), it became clear that it would be easier and cheaper to work with Adobe rather than against them. Especially since Microsoft is in many ways working against Apple as well, it might be hard for Apple to help Microsoft create a technology that would cut into Macintosh sales. Ideally, Adobe and Apple would meld the technically positive parts of TrueType into ATM and then bundle ATM with the rest of the system software, at least until that technology could be built into the system. Then users would only have one type standard to worry about, which was the major threat behind TrueType all along.

None of this may reflect on the reality of the situation, because corporate relationships are only slightly less stable than those depicted on daytime television. One way or another, Apple and Adobe can only benefit from working together to solidify both PostScript and the Macintosh.

Information from:
Adam C. Engst -- TidBITS Editor

Related articles:
MacWEEK -- 11-Sep-90, Vol. 4, #30, pg 1
InfoWorld -- 10-Sep-90, Vol. 12, #37, pg. 1

 

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