Previous Issue | Search TidBITS | TidBITS Home Page | Next Issue
Plenty of MailBITS about System 7.5 and QuickDraw GX start out the issue, and Lloyd Wood passes on a brief article about problems with After Dark 3.0 and how to find more details on the Internet. Tonya finishes off her series on QuickDraw GX, and finally, Matt Neuburg returns with a User Over Your Shoulder column lamenting the trend toward featuritis and away from elegance in software upgrades.
Copyright 1994 TidBITS Electronic Publishing. All rights reserved.
Information: <firstname.lastname@example.org> Comments: <email@example.com>
This issue of TidBITS sponsored in part by:
Adobe Type Manager 3.8 -- Although Adobe Type Manager 3.7 comes free with any QuickDraw GX product (including both System 7.5 and Peirce Print Tools), you can upgrade any version of ATM to version 3.8 for $29.95. Why upgrade? According to an Adobe sales representative, ATM 3.8 runs in native mode on Power Macintoshes, 35 percent faster on AV Macs, and generally has better compatibility with newer programs. ATM 3.8 also comes with thirty typefaces, including Tekton, a multiple master font (Tekton also comes with QuickDraw GX). Apple's Tech Info Library states that, "Primarily, only Power Macintosh customers should be interested in [upgrading from 3.7 to] the 3.8 version as it now has native code." [TJE]
Adobe Systems -- 415/961-4400 -- 800/833-6687
QuickDraw GX correction -- I regrettably and erroneously wrote in TidBITS-244 that you cannot generate a PostScript file by printing to disk through the Print dialog box. Using the LaserWriter GX driver, you can print to a PostScript file, much as you could using previous LaserWriter drivers. Sorry for the confusion. [TJE]
Speed Disk Fix -- In TidBITS-243, Mark reported that serious problems with the Speed Disk 3.0 portion of Norton Utilities 3.0 had caused Symantec to suspend Norton Utilities shipments. An updater that updates Speed Disk 3.0 to Speed Disk 3.1 is now available. Registered users and upgrade subscribers should receive the fix shortly; in the meantime, anyone can download it from various online sources. [TJE]
MODE32 users should be absolutely certain to install the new MODE32 version 7.5 from Connectix (see TidBITS-243) before upgrading to System 7.5. We have it on good authority that installing System 7.5 on a non-32-bit-clean Macintosh with an earlier copy of MODE32 (or perhaps Apple's 32-bit Enabler) may cause severe damage to the system software, necessitating a complete reinstallation. Also, MODE32 7.5 is compatible with System 7.1, should you not have upgraded to 7.5 yet. [MHA]
Quadra 630s cannot be upgraded using the current Power Macintosh Upgrade Card, despite incorrect statements on Apple's 12-Sep-94 price lists. Apple plans a PowerPC-based upgrade for the 630 series, the Performa, LC 575 and 474, and the Quadra 605. The upgrades should be available late this year. [MHA]
PowerBooks with 4 MB RAM as shipped from the factory will still have System 7.1 loaded on the hard drive, since Apple recommends not installing 7.5 on PowerBooks with only 4 MB of RAM. These machines will also include System 7.5 as a "net install" option which the user may elect to install. Or, U.S. customers may request a set of System 7.5 floppies for a $10 shipping and handling charge, and sales tax, by filling out a coupon available from Apple resellers or on AppleLink. [MHA]
by Lloyd Wood, Screensaver FAQ author <firstname.lastname@example.org>
After Dark 3.0, released this August, was the long-awaited, feature-loaded king of Mac screensavers. However, like any version ending with a period and zero (did anyone say "Norton Speed Disk 3.0?"), it's having teething pains. In this case, since After Dark patches system software at a low level, the troubles show up as conflicts with other packages.
In an attempt to make users' lives easier, Berkeley Systems, Inc. (BSI) recently released a list of known and suspected conflicts, with causes and workarounds. They've also promised an updater to registered users.
To register, send email to <email@example.com>, including your After Dark serial number, and your full name, address, and daytime phone number. Questions can be directed to BSI's technical support team at <firstname.lastname@example.org>.
The conflict list details thirty conflicts that affect the 3.0 engine; new products from BSI, such as The Simpsons, use this engine and are also affected. The list is available via the Web and FTP respectively, at the URLs below.
These conflicts are in addition to the ones listed at the end of the After Dark Online Manual included on your installer disks. (That Online Manual is worth a read; it makes a great deal of my Screensaver FAQ redundant.)
The fact that system-level software has conflicts is nothing to get excited about. After Dark 2.0 went through eleven revisions in four years due to conflicts with new system software, and a mole inside BSI tells me that, although their sales have doubled with the release of 3.0, tech support calls have not quite doubled, so, relatively speaking, things must be better. (Well, they would say that, wouldn't they?)
In the meantime, if you want to be entertained by a screensaver, but don't trust After Dark to do it, check out the only free After-Dark-compatible program, Tom Dowdy's DarkSide of the Mac.
And, if you're interested in entering the After Dark module programming contest that we talked about in TidBITS-241, download the After Dark 3.0 programming kit, which BSI has just released online. This version adds example code for CodeWarrior and for all versions of Think C, and is stored at:
by Matt Neuburg <email@example.com>
Journalism Rule #1 is not to write a story about how you didn't get the story. Yet here's a review about how I couldn't write the review. Of course I'll tell you my opinion (don't I always?); I think In Control 2.0, which I raved about thirteen months ago back in TidBITS-191, is better than the new version 3.0.
Can a new version of a great program, which loses none of its predecessor's functionality, nevertheless be less great? I feel it can be less great if it imposes new features that impede its original excellence. If a program does everything it did before, and I don't have to use the new features I don't like, is it fair to call it worse? Am I conservative? Or sentimental?
So, this is not a review of In Control 3.0. I already reviewed In Control. If you didn't read my review, download and read it; if it makes your mouth water, then buy In Control - it does everything it used to do, at a great price. The point of this article is to raise a philosophical problem: how does, and how should, software evolve? I don't know the answer; I merely focus on In Control in order to illustrate the question.
In Control 2.0 combines an outliner and a database: the left "column" is an outline (topics and sub-topics), but other "columns" can contain keywords or other information in parallel to any outline topic, and you can then sort or match on information in any column, to see a restricted subset or reordering of the outline topics. It's as though you had a lot of note cards that you can retrieve in interesting combinations, and which are themselves hierarchically arranged. Add superb import/export and printing, and a helpful interface, plus the ability to link any outline item to a file on disk, and you have an inspired (and inspiring) combination of simplicity, flexibility, elegance, and power.
In Control 3.0 (IC) adds vastly extended calendar and date-book facilities. The addition is clearly important to Attain, which used to bill IC as a "To-Do List Manager," but now calls it a "Planner and Organizer" for "Personal Information Management," and emphasizes the calendar capabilities in the manuals and example documents. Attain seems to think of IC as neither outliner nor database, but as a "time manager," a computer version of the looseleaf planners you read ads for in airline magazines.
Okay, I admit it: I'm a culture snob. IC 2.0 was a powerful tool for organising and navigating ideas and information, which is what I do, so naturally I think it worthwhile. "Time management" is something paper-pushing, white-collar, anal-retentive, MBA drones do, right? I know, I know: totally unfair. But you don't deny, do you, that a Mac program can have an ethos? I can't help it: I don't like IC's new ethos.
Besides, the new features are not mere additions: they're intrusive. On my home computer, 2.0 takes just five seconds to start up, and fifteen seconds to open a largish existing document; 3.0 takes twenty seconds to start up, and twenty-five seconds to open an empty existing document. On my work computer (a Classic II), response to typing is so slow in 3.0 that I lose five of every fifteen or so characters, rendering the program useless. In 2.0, the bar of buttons across the top of the window can be completely dismissed, to see more actual text in the window; in 3.0 it can only partially be dismissed. In 2.0, new documents have only the basic outline column; in 3.0, new documents have three additional columns, and two of these ("start" and "end") cannot be deleted.
What's more, the new calendar features, though souped-up, do not seem well thought through: I immediately banged against limitations. The three calendrical views - month(s), week(s), and day-book - interact pretty well with each other and the outline, but there's no way to move directly from an outline item to the day-book for that day. The calendar day boxes are illegible on a small screen, because if there's a time attached to an item, the text wraps only to the right of the time, not all the way back to the left edge of the box.
The calendar can be used to trigger "reminder" alerts, but the attention-getting version of these (a big splashy window) is available only if IC is running with the calendar file open. If it isn't, all you get is a beep and a blinking Apple menu icon - unless you pre-set IC to launch at alert time, which works only if you have enough RAM free at that moment, and which (as mentioned above) takes twenty-five seconds (during which you can't continue whatever you were doing).
The month and week views can have "banners" (text labels crossing several calendar days, to represent clumps of time like "vacation" or ongoing projects like "write chapter one"); but the day-book, though it lists banners that run across that day, doesn't tell you what day of the banner it is or how many days it has left to run. You can combine outline and calendar into one view; if you double-click a day in the calendar, the outline is supposed to focus on everything for that day, but it totally ignores banners running through that day.
When I informed Attain of my views, I ended up in an email exchange with one of the program's authors, Alan Albert, who was friendly and receptive. He argued in reply to this point that other leading calendar products have worse banners; and this may be. But although he doesn't intend this point to justify IC's shortcomings, I don't see its relevance. The measure of a feature's worth isn't the implementation of the same feature in a rival product: it's the ability of that feature to accommodate real-life usage.
And that's the problem, isn't it? When I first received In Control 2.0, the program told me half an hour out of the box that it was going to improve my life. When I first received 3.0, it told me half an hour out of the box that it wasn't. I didn't have to look for any shortcomings - they were obvious.
Alan Albert also pointed out that "from the Day view, you can display the Start and End columns to see what day the banner starts and ends, or include a Calendar in the Day view, to see at a glance both a single day or a longer period of time." The truth of this statement depends on the meaning of "you can." Perhaps he can; I don't have the screen real estate. As I wrote him in reply, 2.0 felt to me like it was written by thinking people concerned with helping the user to help herself; 3.0 feels like it was written by people who had fast computers, large amounts of RAM, and enormous screens, and contempt for anyone who didn't.
But that's unfair too. The truth is the opposite: Attain does listen. In fact, that's partly why 3.0 is as it is. Alan Albert commented: "We don't see ourselves in the position of being able (or wanting) to dictate to our customers what features they 'should' have. Instead, we try to listen and respond. This accounts for the majority of the new features we've added to In Control. (We took this same approach when developing FileMaker, and it appears to be one that works.)"
But what does "works" mean? Probably, it means "sells." That's what software developers are in the business of doing, after all. But, oh my friends and oh my foes, how I wish it weren't! Of course I want software companies to listen to suggestions (especially mine!); but, steeped as I am in the ideals of Plato's Socrates, I want them to decide what to do based not upon the wishes of the majority, but on considerations of what's best. I don't want my Mac to be full of lowest common denominators: I want it to be full of greatness. I want software developers to be wise, detached, superior, trustworthy, to aim at Quality (in a Plato/Pirsig sense). And I have a bad feeling that eventually the reality is going to let me down, every time.
Attain Corporation -- 617/776-2711 -- 617/776-1626 (fax)
by Tonya Engst <firstname.lastname@example.org>
This article is the third and last in the TidBITS QuickDraw GX mini-series. This part introduces QuickDraw GX fonts, pointing out amazing features and potential problems.
If you've owned a Mac forever, you probably remember the old-style font world of bitmapped fonts, downloadable PostScript fonts, and (toward the end of the 80s) DeskWriter fonts. The first big font shake-up came in the early 90s when Apple released TrueType, and Adobe not only shared the specifications for how to create Type 1 fonts but also released Adobe Type Manager (ATM). Font management became more complex, but fonts became more flexible and fun, especially for people using QuickDraw printers. QuickDraw GX has ushered in a second big font shake-up, and everything font-related has been thrown topsy-turvy. The parts are up in the air now; they should shake down soon and then we'll see what works and what doesn't.
GX Font Summary -- QuickDraw GX uses a variety of font types:
True GX fonts, which have an impressive list of new capabilities. True GX fonts can be downloadable PostScript fonts or TrueType fonts.
Regular TrueType fonts, which do not need to be converted.
Type 1 downloadable PostScript fonts, which must be converted before they can be used with a GX printer driver. I haven't found any information about Type 3 fonts.
Bitmaps are not necessary, but I haven't figured out if they are still desirable under some circumstances.
True GX fonts, regular TrueType fonts, and converted Type 1 downloadable PostScript fonts look identical from the Finder- the icons look the same, and the Get Info window provides no clues. If you try the transition to GX, make a note of what's what, just in case you need to know (see the devil's advocate section later in this article).
True GX fonts -- I made up the term "true GX fonts" to refer to fonts specially designed to offer QuickDraw GX features. True GX fonts have built-in smarts that enormously extend their features and flexibility. Users no longer need attempt to follow typesetting conventions using inadequate fonts and software features; instead the fonts follow the conventions on their own. GX fonts can contain details about kerning, tracking, width, weight, and more. For example, when you type "TidBITS" using a GX font, the "i" might automatically tuck under the "T", according to specifications built into the font. As another bonus, if you rotate, stretch, or twist text written using GX fonts you can edit the text in its stylized state.
Before GX, fonts for languages such as English, German, and Spanish had room for 256 characters (the Mac uses about thirty of those characters for line breaks and the like, not for text), and few applications supported the more populated "double-byte" fonts required by some alphabets, most notably those used in Asian languages. In contrast, a GX font can contain 65,000 glyphs. Think of a glyph as a shape that could be an entire character or only part of a character. For example, the character "e" might be represented by four different glyphs, and each glyph might make the "e" look different, depending on where the "e" falls in a paragraph or sentence. Or, if the "e" needs to be accented, the accented "e" might be created by combining more than one glyph, perhaps one for the "e" and one for the accent. You could also have uppercase and small caps versions, as well as special ornamental versions.
65,000 glyphs accommodates most (if not all) written languages and allows font designers to add fractions, ligatures, special flourishes and embellishments, and more. Check out pages 530-532 of the new fifth edition of Peachpit's "Macintosh Bible" to see great examples of special GX features in Skia and Hoefler Text, true GX fonts which come with QuickDraw GX.
The Catch -- True GX fonts sound too good to be true, and currently - for most people - they are. Although (in theory) you can use a true GX font from any program, you cannot take advantage of the special GX features unless you use a program that supports them. From what I've heard, Pixar has the only third-party, shipping program that supports true GX fonts; the program, Pixar Typestry 2, is a font animation and rendering program, and it runs in native or 68K mode. Several companies have announced plans to support true GX fonts, including: Ares Software in Font Chameleon, Manhattan Graphics in the upcoming Ready,Set,Go! GX, version 6.5; and SoftPress Systems, in a new product called UniQorn. (Find out more about UniQorn in the 12-Sep-94 issue of MacWEEK, on page 20.) I expect that as time goes on, additional companies will jump on the GX-font bandwagon.
Apple's SimpleText also supports true GX fonts. Salman Abdulali <email@example.com> had a chance to play around with SimpleText 1.1.1, and he wrote, "If you print one of the new GX fonts from SimpleText 1.1.1, you get automatic ligatures and curly quotes. Printing a document with Apple Chancery leads to more surprises. The first letter of a paragraph has the swashes. Several other characters take on special shapes depending on their positions . None of these features show up onscreen, but you can see them in either a hard copy or in a portable digital document." SimpleText 1.1 also appears to support true GX fonts; I don't know if 1.0 does.
I gather that GX font development tools make it reasonably easy to throw together a font containing only a few GX capabilities. Evidently, the Font Consortium (a group comprised of interested developers, including several of the big font foundries) is putting together a set of guidelines for what features a GX font should have and attempting to create a multiple-platform font standard that builds on GX technology (no telling what exactly "multiple platform font standard" means, but it sounds like an excellent topic for lengthy committee meetings).To find out more about true GX fonts, go to the Apple Web site, enter the Tech Info Library, and search for "glyph".
Regular TrueType Fonts -- You can still use TrueType fonts under QuickDraw GX. TrueType fonts don't get converted and work whether you have GX on or off.
Downloadable PostScript Fonts -- Downloadable PostScript fonts that are not true GX fonts must be converted into GX fonts before you can use them with QuickDraw GX. Converting a downloadable PostScript font does not endow it with true-GX-font capabilities, but it does make it so documents using the font print with QuickDraw GX on (definitely an advantage). If you print with an unconverted downloadable Type 1 PostScript font, you get a mysterious error and no printout.
When you install QuickDraw GX, the installer takes a copy of all Type 1 downloadable PostScript fonts in the Fonts and Extensions folders and converts them into QuickDraw GX fonts. It places the original downloadable PostScript fonts in a folder called Archived Type 1 Fonts.
The Type 1 Enabler -- QuickDraw GX comes with an application (called Type 1 Enabler) that can convert downloadable PostScript fonts into GX fonts. The Enabler was written by Adobe, and it can convert all fonts in a folder or all fonts on a disk. It's great that you can convert the fonts, but the utility fails if you look at it cross-eyed. I had problems with the Enabler failing whenever it encountered a suitcase containing bitmaps for more than one font.
The Enabler caused Bob Arthur <firstname.lastname@example.org> to throw in the towel on GX. He wrote, "If the Enabler encounters an error, such as a font suitcase containing a non-Type 1 font, it stops dead. You then have to quit the Enabler, remove the offending font suitcase from the folder, and start all over again. Until the next error. The Enabler even gives an error if it finds an already-enabled suitcase!"
Evidently the Type 1 Enabler that comes with QuickDraw GX is slow - it took five to ten seconds per font for me on a Power Mac 7100, and you can evidently get a faster version through various online services or the Adobe BBS at 408/562-6839. Unfortunately the file is not available on <ftp.adobe.com>.
Adobe Type Manager -- If you use Adobe Type Manager (ATM), you must upgrade to version 3.7 or later. Version 3.7 comes with QuickDraw GX, but if you have a Power Mac, you may want the native version (see the MailBIT above). Using Adobe Type Manager requires that you pay attention when you turn off QuickDraw GX. A source at Adobe pointed out that Adobe Type Manager 3.7 and 3.8 fail to print GX-style PostScript fonts (true GX or converted to GX) if you print with GX off but with ATM on. In my own testing, GX-style fonts did print with GX off and ATM off.
Devil's advocate questions -- A few people wrote in to ask what happens if you print with a GX font, but without GX. It seemed a worthy question, so I rebooted with QuickDraw GX off to see what would happen when printing both true GX fonts and converted PostScript fonts.
At first I thought I had a problem because I couldn't print in the background, but then I discovered the cause of the problem - although I cannot swear to it, I believe that the GX installer deleted Print Monitor; hence, background printing failed. With Print Monitor installed, I printed fine using PSPrinter 8.1 and LaserWriter 7.2 (with background printing on or off) from two non-GX-savvy applications - Nisus 3.4 and Word 5.1. I also had no problems with Word 6, which supports GX printing (but not the fonts).
My success with WriteNow 3.0 was limited. WriteNow crashed when I attempted to format text in the PostScript true GX Tekton (a font that comes with QuickDraw GX) and the PostScript converted Katfish (a font from Letraset's newest collection of Fontek display faces). On the other hand, WriteNow worked with Hoefler Text and Hoefler Text Ornament (both true TrueType GX fonts that come with QuickDraw GX) or with a converted PostScript font called Cursive. (Cursive comes from Educational Fontware, and teachers use it to prepare materials that help students learn handwriting.) My problem sounds similar to one Salman Abdulali passed on. "WriteNow 4.02 crashes with a Type 1 error if you use a PostScript Type 1 font converted to GX format. This includes the Tekton font bundled with QuickDraw GX. The other TrueType GX fonts (Apple Chancery, Skia, Hoefler Text) work without problems."
I did not test GX fonts on a Mac running an older version of the System (such as System 7.0 or 6.0.7). If I had a deadline to meet related to a converted or true GX font working with an older System version, I'd test it well before the deadline.
Another issue that some people will want to check is what happens to the placement of printed characters if you create a document using a converted PostScript GX font (such as Futura) and then print the document using a non-converted version of the font. Although you should get the same results, I've heard rumors that characters shapes or spacing may change slightly.
Similarly, everyone who uses type professionally wants to know if they can take documents that use GX fonts to service bureaus and have the printing process go smoothly. I don't have an answer, but it's a good question, and perhaps I'll follow-up with better information.
Wrap-Up -- This ends my preliminary look at QuickDraw GX, though I suspect future TidBITS issues will have updates. If the Macintosh had shipped for the first time in 1994, and all Macs shipped with big hard disks, 20 MB of RAM onboard, QuickDraw GX, and all drivers, fonts, and programs were GX-savvy, everyone would rave about the innovative new Macintosh and its amazing font technology. Unfortunately, the transition to QuickDraw GX is going to be awkward (or impossible) for many people, but the nature of the computer industry is to constantly push the envelope on what can be done. It's refreshing to see Apple pushing hard and shipping something new.
Adobe -- 415/961-4400
Ares Software Corporation -- 415/578-9090
Educational Fontware, Inc. -- 800/806-2155 -- 206/842-2155
Manhattan Graphics -- 914/725-2048
Letraset -- 800/343-8973
Pixar -- 510/236-4000 -- 510/236-0388 (fax)
SoftPress Ltd. (U.K.) -- 44-993-882588 -- 44-993-883970 (fax)
Getting Started with QuickDraw GX (an installation guide in the
Peirce Print Tools software package)
"Inside QuickDraw GX Fonts," by Erfert Fenton, Macworld (Oct-94,
pg. 122). (An excellent article!)
Non-profit, non-commercial publications and Web sites may reprint or link to articles if full credit is given. Others please contact us. We do not guarantee accuracy of articles. Caveat lector. Publication, product, and company names may be registered trademarks of their companies. TidBITS ISSN 1090-7017.
Previous Issue | Search TidBITS | TidBITS Home Page | Next Issue