Now that Mac OS X 10.1 has arrived, it’s being adopted by an increasing number of users. Those into collecting fonts will be impressed by the operating system’s beefed up font abilities.
In addition to supporting the Mac standard TrueType font, it also adds support for Type 1 and OpenType fonts without any need for extra software. And with its modern underlying Unicode foundation, the operating system can “understand” and display extended font sets in all their glory.
OpenType is a (relatively) new cross-platform font file format developed jointly by Adobe and Microsoft. The two main benefits of the OpenType format are its cross-platform compatibility (the same font file works on Mac and Windows computers), and its ability to support widely expanded character sets and layout features, which provide richer linguistic support and advanced typographic control. OpenType fonts can be installed and used alongside PostScript Type 1 and TrueType fonts.
Unicode is a character coding system designed to support the interchange, processing and display of the written texts of the diverse languages of the modern world. The combination of Unicode and ATSUI (Apple Type Services for Unicode Imaging) is designed to make advanced typography and multilingual capabilities available to more users and developers. ATSUI is the “engine” that handles Unicode printing and display in Mac OS X.
Unicode is the default text representation in XML, an important open standard being rapidly adopted throughout e-business technology. The Unicode Standard assigns every character a unique number, ensuring the same representation for text regardless of country, language or operating system. As a result, computer programs written to its specifications can be used around the world without modification. Unicode-enabled programs — client, server, operating system or middleware — can share textual data worldwide. Text can be transmitted freely, without suffering the data loss that occurs with older systems.
Unicode simplifies the job of displaying text that runs right to left or vertically. It eases the task of working with characters that change depending on their position in a sentence or a word. Still, the main reason Apple likes Unicode is not just that everyone else is using it, but that it solves basic problems. Unicode brings everyone into one encoding model and simplifies the programming model. It means, for the first time in computing history, everyone will be using the same character set. Unicode includes all the important characters of the world’s many languages.
To take advantage of its advanced text system, Mac OS X includes several professional quality Roman and Japanese fonts (which Apple says is valued at over US$10,000). It comes with fonts in Classic (Baskerville, Big Caslon, Copperplate, Didot), Fun (American Typewriter, Herculanum, Marker Felt, Papryus, Zapfine), and Modern (Futura, Gill Sans, Helvetica Neue, Optima) categories.
What’s more, a couple of the fonts have advanced typography features. For example Zapfino has special ligatures which are available to any Cocoa app or any Carbon app that utilizes ATSUI. Try typing words with lower case “f”(words that begin with f, words that have two ff’s together,etc.). Also notice how the stroke of one character can be drawn underneath one or more characters.
Also, given the multi-user nature of Mac OS X, there are exciting font management possibilities. According to Apple spokesperson Bill Evans, fonts can be installed in three key places:
1. Fonts for a single user. In a user’s home directory, “Library,” fonts can be installed in the Fonts folder and are only available to that user when they are logged in.
2. Fonts shared by all users of a single Mac. In the main “Library” folder found in the main hard drive, any fonts found in the Font folder will be available to all users that have access to that Mac.
3. Fonts shared by all users on a network. In a network managed by Mac OS X Server, it is possible to share fonts (license permitting) in the Library folder found in the Network icon. Any fonts installed here will be available to any authenticated user on that network.
Mac OS X also includes high-quality Hiragino fonts for Japanese customers. Apple says they offer the largest Japanese character set ever on a personal computers. Computers currently ship with about 8,500 Kanji characters so the operating systems are always missing characters. Apple this means you have to license high-quality, expensive fonts, especially in the design and publishing industry. Their goal was to change this as of Mac OS X.
The Japanese font family contains 20,000 characters in various faces. They’re based on Dainippon’s Hiragino, one of the most highly regarded fonts for professional publishing in Japan. Hiragino has a beautiful and elegant design for each character and also a balanced and consistent appearance across its Mincho and Gothic families, according to Apple. The typefaces will be provided in OpenType format, compatible with Unicode, with no device or resolution limitations for use on-screen and in high-quality output.