25 years after the introduction of desktop publishing, we're still talking about missing fonts. With something more than the original 13 from which to choose, how is it that we haven't developed a more intriguing topic of font conversation?

In this series of articles, I'll introduce you to other font software and with any luck, increase your vocabulary beyond missing and corrupt. Yes, you'll find that some of these font tools will help with the far-too-typical font problems, but what we're really jumping into are font converters, font editors, font utilities, and a new font technology known as Photofont.

Font tools for everyone


TransType Pro from ThePowerXChange.com TransType Pro from XChange UK

My interest in fonts began in advance of the desktop-publishing movement that antiquated proprietary typesetting equipment. I started my career as a typesetter and trained with a mentor to become a typographer — learning that the message fonts convey often lays in the shape and not just in the words they form.

X-Ray Magazine has been a great venue for me to meet knowledgeable and talented peers. Among my favorites is Tom Kelly. When I first spoke with Tom about a series of articles on the history of text, printing, and publishing, I had no idea the depth of his knowledge, nor that I would enjoy his articles so much. His articles are more like stories or even histories. A stroll down memory lane — no matter what application or platform you use. FontLab is a software company that also takes me back to my roots. They build font tools; many that quench the insatiated thirst left when the art of typography was cast aside, but others that are tools of today and tomorrow. Let's have a look at TransType, because for many of us, this is where it starts.

TransType Pro provides a powerful conversion solution

We've probably all been faced with the challenge at one time or another where we have a Mac set of fonts and we need to create or output from a Windows workstation, or vice versa. Whether a Mac or Windows user, TransType, simply put, will convert Mac fonts to Windows fonts and Windows fonts to Mac fonts — but it doesn't end there.

Tip: My favorite font company is Myfonts.com.
We reviewed their site in X-Ray Magazine.
here to read the PDF review.

In addition to converting the platform of a font, TransType Pro is a TrueType®, PostScript® Type 1, and OpenType® font-conversion utility. This small application will quickly:

  • Convert Type 1 to TrueType or OpenType;
  • Convert TrueType to Type 1 or OpenType;
  • Convert OpenType to TrueType or Type 1;
  • Convert to a FontLab proprietary format called VFB; or
  • Convert multiple master Type 1 fonts either into single master or into multiple master Type 1 fonts or into TrueType or OpenType fonts for Windows or Mac.

You can perform both a platform and a format conversion at the same time, or perform the conversions independently, but still TransType can do more. Much more.

When converting fonts to a Mac Type 1 format, TransType can:

  • Automatically generate the bitmaps;
  • Enable the user to choose the encoding for both the source and destination font;
  • Build font suitcases automatically - or you can control this feature manually;
  • Process converted fonts with Python macro scripts (using MacPython interpreter); and
  • Convert fonts inside a .sit archive (using Stuffit).

X-Ray Magazine v5n3 A Multi-part Font Disquisition Figure 1

Figure 1 TransType has a simple-to-understand interface.

A quick start

TransType is extremely simple to use, with a clean interface that will have you converting fonts within seconds of completing the installation. Visit the link to the right to download the demo and follow these steps to your first successful conversion. To download the user's guide now, click here.

X-Ray Magazine v5n3 A Multi-part Font DisquisitionLaunch TransType. A dialogue box such as the one shown in figure 1 above should result.

X-Ray Magazine v5n3 A Multi-part Font DisquisitionClick the add button X-Ray Magazine v5n3 A Multi-part Font Disquisition Add Button along the bottom, right edge of the dialogue box.


X-Ray Magazine v5n3 A Multi-part Font DisquisitionNavigate to a font that you wish to convert, click to select the font or shift + click to select multiple fonts. The font will be added to list in the left side of the window as the source font. It will also be listed on the right side of the window as a destination font.

If you inadvertently add a font that you do not wish to convert, click on the font title in the source fonts pane (left-hand side) and click the delete button X-Ray Magazine v5n3 A Multi-part Font Disquisition Delete Button or the delete all button X-Ray Magazine v5n3 A Multi-part Font Disquisition Delete All Button.

The format of the destination font displayed is affected by the settings defined in your preferences. We'll delve into those a little later.

In my example, I am converting a Mac Type 1 font to a Windows Type 1 font. Your dialogue box may appear differently depending upon your operating system and the font that you select as your source.

Note: If you are converting a Mac font to a Windows font and you are on the Windows platform, make sure that the fonts are archived in a .sit file (a .sitx file is not supported) or .bin file (both can be created with Stuffit on a Mac), before you move the font to the Windows platform. Do not open the archive. TransType Pro will extract the fonts from the archive during the conversion process. This step preserves the resource fork of the Mac fonts.

X-Ray Magazine v5n3 A Multi-part Font Disquisition Figure 2

Figure 2 Choose to convert to a format other than that of your source font.

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