April 26, 2001
You Can’t Always Get What You Font
From my perspective, a very large portion of computer users take fonts for granted. Fonts come bundled by the dozens with nearly every piece of design software that ships, and you get a veritable truckload of them included with each new release of the Mac and Windows operating systems. Relatively speaking, they’re cheap. They’re a commodity. They’re expected to be there in the font menu and expected to work when you need them to. This apparently isn’t the case with Unix systems — take your pick. To be honest, I have minimal experience with Unix environments, command line or otherwise. But based on my limited exposure, I agree with this article regarding the non-existent standards for implementing and supporting fonts within those environments. It reminds me of doing tech support for PC users trying to install and use typefaces before Windows 3.1 was released. It seems as if every single application required not only it’s own unique outline data or metrics file, but an independent directory to store them in as well. Regardless of how necessary unified font management is to making an operating system usable to anyone beyond the classification of geek, it’s not something that will develop magically in the OS. It didn’t on the Mac. We had SuitCase, MasterJuggler, and Adobe Type Manager to lend a hand. Sounds like a market niche to me. Hey, Adobe! Yo, Extensis! Are you listening?
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