Quarter Life Crisis

The world according to Sven-S. Porst

« Random BulletsMainSpring Loaded »


428 words

New abilities of typography engine in OS X.3 I have had these screenshots around for a while now, so I may as well post them. They're about the nice new typography features in Mac OS X.3. To begin with, it offers a full set of strike-through and underlining features and shadows. I guess that doesn't really qualify for the 'typography' badge. I also guess people will abuse them for visual atrocities rather than anything else – just indulge in my doubly underlined, doubly struck-through, Arial (not even Helvetica, ha!), unsubtly shadowed example here...

Typography Inspector But there are better things, such as the typography inspector that let you use advanced features of the installed fonts ranging from ligatures to old style numerals, to variations for the characters. Many of these options needed specialist programs before. Now I can use Zapfino in all its variants in any Cocoa text field. This is the right way to go.

That said, it will probably take another iteration or two before those features are incorporated nicely into the system. The typography inspector, for example, will turn into a wildly, yet smoothly, sliding mess once you start editing and selecting your text while it is shown.

The whole interface, including the Font Inspector, looks a bit clunky to me at this stage. You have two inspectors which can grow to enormous sizes if you want to actually use the features they provide. Even when only tinkering around a little, I frequently found them occupying more screen space than I would like to and covering each other as well. Hopefully we'll see that uncluttered at some stage.

Extended Font Inspector One thing I really like about the updated Font Inspector is that it has one of the filter fields for font names. With all the international fonts installed and particularly the TeX fonts causing quite a bit of clutter, this saves a lot of scrolling (I find scrolling in lists much slower than scrolling in menus, btw).

Extended Font Inspector One thing that isn't quite right about it yet is that when you make the window narrow enough to get rid of the 'Collections' column, firstly the inspector will not automatically switch to the 'All fonts' collection, meaning that you'll have to re-extend the window again if you want to use all fonts. Secondly, in the narrow setup you don't have that little 'gear' menu that lets you hide the strikethrough features or display the Typography Inspector. These are not complete dealbreakers but they're not signs of careful UI design either.

Nice! To finish, this demonstration of the abilites was just too nice to leave it out... the power of TextEdit.

November 15, 2003, 17:14

Tagged as arial, helvetica, zapfino.


Comment by d.w.: User icon

I’m so happy to see any kind of UI exposed for this stuff. Back in the prehistoric days I became quite attached to Quickdraw GX, which was Apple’s first attempt at providing real typography on the platform. A lot of the tech in Panther’s new text handling goes all the way back to GX — the ligatures, alternate letterforms, and the like. They never had any sort of systemwide UI for accessing it back then, though, and apps had to be rewritten to take advantage of the features.

November 16, 2003, 5:42

Comment by ssp: User icon

QDGX was quite cool. Things like transparency and all those extra font features were quite extraordinary in the 1990s… It also allowed parameters for fonts like Adobe’s MM technique. I thought that was quite cool. Unfortunately, nobody ever managed (either because technologies like QDGX or Adobe MM weren’t up to it or simply because it was too much work – I don’t know) to do a full translation of TeX’s ‘CM’ family of fonts to those technologies.

It has 60 or so parameters that generate the whole range of serif, sans-serif, italic, bold &c fonts from its sources. Using that you can do quite funny things as Knuth demonstrated in fonts like ‘cmu’ (unslanted italic) or ‘cmdunh’ (dunhill-logo style tall characters with low x-height). Lots of room for experiments there. If using metafont were easier, that is.

November 16, 2003, 15:28

Comment by brian w: User icon

In your explorations, did you happen to discover a way to list keyboard shortcuts for the various special characters? I can’t for the life of me find such a list in any of the dialogs and I’m rusty on some.

November 17, 2003, 4:58

Comment by ssp: User icon

Brian: Sorry, I don’t know about a way of doing that, short of looking around in Key Caps (or its input menu reincarnation in X.3). Possibly PopChar can do this for you as well – at least it did in System 7, when I last used it.

November 19, 2003, 0:00

Comment by Frédéric Latour: User icon

I was wondering what font you used for the typography panel screenshot. I’m intrigued with the Smart Swashes and Style option this font offers. Thanks.

November 19, 2003, 19:25

Comment by ssp: User icon

That was Hoefler Text.

It’s quite a nice font which seems to be a playground for advanced features. It has been around since the days of QuickDraw GX.

November 19, 2003, 21:24

Add your comment

« Random BulletsMainSpring Loaded »

Comments on




This page

Out & About

pinboard Links


Received data seems to be invalid. The wanted file does probably not exist or the guys at last.fm changed something.