Type 1 vs. OpenType

With all the talk of OpenType fonts and the oh-so-gloomy future of Type 1 Postscript fonts one has to wonder what the fuss is all about. What is the big deal about OpenType? What is it anyway?

Since Mac OS 9.2 and forward, Apple has included support for the relatively new font file format called OpenType. These fonts are identified by the “.otf” file name extension or sometimes by the word “Pro” appended to the font family name in your font menus (for example, “HelveticaPro”).

OpenType is designed to include the best features of older font formats in a single file. The idea was to create a font file that does not have the same limitations as previous formats, a format that would carry us into the future. With that idea in mind, OpenType was born. What’s the big deal?

Consider these OpenType advantages:

All font data is combined into a single file. This might seem obvious, but if you’ve done any serious work with fonts you know the pain associated with the old two-file system of Type 1 fonts (a screen font file and separate printer font file). With OpenType, all the PostScript data has been integrated into the screen font data to create a single portable file.

OpenType files are portable. The same font file can be used on both Mac and Windows (and Linux for that matter)

OpenType files support many languages and special typographic features, like ligatures. In the Latin alphabet, the most common use of ligatures are the fl and fi combinations, but other languages (such as Arabic) make much more widespread use of ligatures.

This is all great news, mostly.

I say “mostly” because the transition to OpenType can be a challenge.

What about those old Type 1 fonts that you’ve had for years? You know the ones, those tried-and-true-stand-by fonts that your client loves. Are they available in the new OpenType flavor? You’ll have to do some looking around. Occasionally the original  foundry may have created new OpenType versions (which you will have to purchase separately, of course) or they may not even be around any longer (still got those Cassidy & Greene fonts?)

This is a big problem – and likely an expensive one.

Do the math. You could just ditch your existing PostScript Type 1 font library and get the latest Adobe Font Folio (all OpenType versions of the Adobe Type 1 originals) for a whopping $2599.00.

Are there other options?

FontXChange for Macintosh is a font conversion application that understands many different font formats and can convert fonts into many different formats.

This makes FontXChange useful to convert your PostScript Type 1 fonts (Macintosh or Windows format) into a single modern OpenType font file.

FontXChange can also recreate missing screen fonts using a PostScript font file in any format.

It can convert TrueType fonts to PostScript fonts if you want that.

You can convert Windows fonts to Macintosh and vice-versa in almost any format.

Thinking about moving to OpenType? If so, FontXChange may the solution you are looking for. OpenType is the future of typography on the Mac, and in the end we all know that’s a good thing.

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