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Published in TidBITS 14.
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Bits On PostScript

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The furor over Apple's and Microsoft's announcement of TrueType has faded with time, especially since Adobe promised to release the specs of its Type 1 PostScript fonts. The font world has been in the news recently, though, with Adobe announcing that it plans to create drivers for the Mac, Windows 3,0, and OS/2 to take advantage of PostScript Level 2.

The Macintosh driver is Chooser-selectable and works with any Macintosh application. It will ship with the first printers utilizing PostScript Level 2, probably in the last quarter of 1990. The announcement from Adobe didn't say anything about Apple's current driver, but we got the impression that this driver was meant to be used by everyone with PostScript printers. Curious. The main goals of the new driver are to (a) improve performance on current printers and printers supporting PostScript Level 2, (b) support device-specific printer features such as special paper bins, printer-specific pages sizes, duplex printing, cut film, etc., in every application, and (c) allow exporting of PostScript files by printing to disk from the driver. Adobe is open to suggestions for this new driver which should be sent to them at the network address, macdriver@adobe.com. If you are unable to use the nets, you could try calling them, but the phone may not be a proper channel for comments.

Adobe's net announcement is especially interesting given recent rumors regarding PostScript and TrueType. Evidently, there has been talk about the future of TrueType being an eventual merger with PostScript. InfoWorld quoted Jim Stoneham, Apple's text and type products manager, as saying "In my opinion, I think we could take the best of both formats and converge on one standard." Apple said that Stoneham's remark does not represent the company's official position, but admitted that two font standards may only confuse and irritate users.

Our feeling is that PostScript is here to stay because of the large investment many sites have in PostScript laser printers and fonts. It also doesn't help that developing a complete font technology is a large task. The main carrot that TrueType has held out to us rabbits is the on-screen font scaling, which is done relatively well by Adobe's ATM already. We hope that Apple will come to its senses about TrueType and form some sort of Open Font Foundation that will take the best parts of various font technologies and merge them into a single open standard.

Microsoft is the odd one out at this point, since NeXT and IBM have both endorsed PostScript over TrueType, and no matter what IBM may do wrong, its endorsement still carries clout. It seems clear that Microsoft wishes to control a part of the printer and font industry, but in this case Microsoft does not have its usual head start over competitors (as it did with Word and Excel for the Mac). It may be that Microsoft feels that it can control the entire microcomputer software (and we wouldn't be too surprised to see more Microsoft hardware) market, especially given its recent coup with Windows 3.0 and dominance over IBM in OS/2 development.

Adobe Systems Inc. -- 415/961-4400

Information from:
Adobe Systems Incorporated -- macdriver@adobe.com
Lawrence D'Oliveiro -- ccc_ldo@waikato.ac.nz
Dominic Dunlop -- domo@tsa.co.uk

Related articles:
InfoWorld -- 23-Jul-90, Vol. 12, #30, pg. 1

 

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