Adobe Systems Inc. developed the PostScript font format in 80ies. It became the first broadly used high quality computer font format. It came popular especially on Apple's Macintosh operating system, which started the desktop publishing revolution in middle of 80ies.
Post Script typefaces are the natural solution for professional graphic design and for users of high quality and powerful printers and imagesetters. PostScript fonts worked initially with Adobe Type Manager. Now you can use PostScript fonts without any auxiliary programs.
On PostScript fonts there is 256 character limit because in practice these fonts are 8 bit encoded. That's why man had to use special fonts for non Western European languages or symbols.
Another difficulty on using PostScript fonts is that, that outline and metric information are in separate files. On Mac OS metric information lies on display font file and on other OS'ies on .pfm or .afm files.
Apple Inc. developed in the beginning of 1990ies the TrueType font format, because Apple and Adobe disliked, that Adobe would have a quality font format monopoly with PostScript format. There was a need for more simple and versitile font format than PostScript. TrueType fonts consist just one file, which means also easy usability. Initially TrueType format was introduced on Macintosh System 7 - although this works also even on System 6.0.5 or 6.0.7.
Microsoft then licensed this format for Windows 3.1 and later. TrueType typefaces can be used with the MacOS 6.0.5 or newer and with the Windows 3.1. and newer. Core fonts on both Mac OS and Windows are in TrueType format. TrueType fonts have no 8 bit limitation as PostScript fonts. They can have over 65 000 glyphs (16 bit encoding). TrueType fonts have been typically for an ordinary computer user. Man has avoided TrueType fonts in publishing houses an ad bureaus - at the beginning with goor reasons, because the quality of many first TrueType fonts was poor and there were a lot of printing problems. Nowadays decent TrueType font are equally good as PostScript fontss and there is no reason to abandon them.
In the middle of 90ies Adobe and Microsoft began to develop a successor for PostScript and TrueType formats. These two companies created in the break of 2000ies OpenType font format. As a matter of fact it is structurally TrueType font, where is some new tables, that support new typographical and linguistic features. These perform e.g. many kind of glyph variations of common letters and numbers. OpenType fonts can have also over 65 000 glyphs as TrueType fonts.
One benefit of OpenType fonts is that, the same font can be used both on Windows and Mac OS environment. By now only a few programs support new typographic OpenType features. Adobe's InDesign and other CS programs as well as LibreOffice Writer ja Calc starting from version 3.6, Apple's TextEdit and Redlex's word processor Mellel on Mac, Word 2010 on Windows are by now only programs, which understand these features. On most other programs OpenType fonts are working like old usual PostScript or TrueType fonts. On some programs - especially on FreeHand - they don't even work always properly.
An excellent example of benefits of OpenType features is JL-types' ViisasEAN fonts, which build proper EAN barcode number variants on the basis of neighbouring numbers. Before you had always to use for this som kind of auxiliary progam - in most cases hard or limited to use. In the future you will see typographic and other OpenType features in several new JL-types' fonts.
The most comprehensive OpenType support can be found on these applications:
- Adobe's CS programs (InDesign, Illustrator, and Photohop) on Mac OS X and Windows
- Redler's Mellel (Mac OS X)
- Classical Text Editor (Windows)
Partial support for OpenType features can be found on these applications:
- Microsoft Word 2010 or newer (Windows)
- Microsoft Publisher 2010 or newer (Windows)
- Quark XPress 7.0 or newer (Mac OS X anad Windows)
- CorelDraw X6 or newer (Windows)
- all Mac OS X (version 10.5 or newer) applications, that apply OS's text services, like TextEdit, Bean, Pages, Keynote, Numbers, LibreOffice Writer ja Calc (version 3.6 or newer) sekä ja IBM Lotus Symphony 3.
But special OpenType features does not work on any common Linux application and on no other Windows and Mac OS X applications liki Microsoft Excel, OpenOffice, Freehand etc.
An excellent example of benefits of OpenType features is JL-types' ViisasEAN fonts, which build proper EAN barcode number variants on the basis of neighbouring numbers. Before you had always to use for this som kind of auxiliary progam - in most cases hard or limited to use.
The benefits of typographic and other OpenType features can be found also on SujuvaOT-font on schoolfont package as well as on the new CleverInterleaved barcode font.