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Fonts, font management and PDF

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  • Fonts, font management and PDF

    Hi all,

    Our company is switching from all PC to Macs. I'm in prepress, we were using Suitcase company-wide, we are basically an in-plant, creating and printing all our own work in-house. Now on the Macs we're reseaching font management and trying to decide what to use, preferring, unless someone tells me why we shouldn't, a server-based solution still. Some background, we translate and print in around 70 languages and have legacy files that go back 15+ years, all created in Pagemaker then Indesign with .ps fonts which were customized as necessary for special accents and characters throughout the various languages. We have 3 different dept that design and create web and print projects and we'd like those and our printing department to be all on the same page with fonts.

    Anyway, my main question other than any recommendations for font management is, are PDFs and fonts bullet proof in the regard that as long as the font is embedded in the PDF, does it matter if I have the font on my machines or not, or a different version of the same font, will the file simply use the font embedded in the PDF. I'm using Preps to impose and sending to a Xitron RIP, no workflow, printing to RIP as .ps right now but wanting to go to PDF>PDF workflow. I throw that out there also in case it would make a difference in printing to .ps out of Preps or sending PDF out of Preps?

    Is it true that we can't use our old .ps fonts on the Macs and that they'll have to be converted to TrueType or OpenType?

    I know this is a complicated matter and there are no simple, one sentence answers but any info or input is greatly appreciated.


  • #2
    Re: Fonts, font management and PDF

    Hi Terry,
    Since you are making the switch from PC > Mac, Macs will load PC Truetype and OTF, the biggest issue will be PC postscript legacy fonts. Those will not load on Mac unless you convert them, there is a font converter on the market. Although, I never used it myself to confirm how accurate and reliable it is.

    As for serve-based font management, I would only recommend it if your company have a close font collection. Suitcase server-based solution works well when I was at two different national magazines, we had no problems as long as end users don't get too creative and start using fonts that doesn't exist on server.

    I'm not an expert yet on PDF workflow, but from my experience so far with it, embedded fonts will print as is. You won't need to have the font loaded in your system but you do need the fonts loaded if you want to attempt any minor editorial changes to PDF files. If you subset fonts (this renames font name within PDF, giving it a unique ID), this is suppose to be the best solution if sending files to press. Keep in mind, when you subset fonts, you won't be able to edit the file anymore.

    Good luck!


    • #3
      Re: Fonts, font management and PDF

      Minor correction.

      IF you have the font available on your system, Adobe Acrobat will allow you to perform editing, even on subset fonts.



      • #4
        Re: Fonts, font management and PDF


        Thanks for reminding me about the subsetting, I remember deciding this was the way to go for this because of just that, creating its own unique name forces Preps I suppose to use that particular font and not one I have loaded on my local machine which might have an identical name as the original font.

        Also thanks to Leonard for that info, it doesn't really apply to us here though as we create all our own files in-house, if there's a correction, we have the creators fix and resend PDF, so that their files are latest copies also and are used as our finals always.



        • #5
          Re: Fonts, font management and PDF

          Subsetting is not necessarily good or bad. It is a space saving method. It does NOT ensure secure output of the fonts. Much depends on your RIP. The Ghent Workgroup has a free PDF that you can use to test many aspects of your RIP including correct handling of subset fonts. Subset fonts can actually set you up to experience good old-fashioned font conflicts. But with TrueType and OpenType you cannot embed the entire font.


          • #6
            Re: Fonts, font management and PDF


            • #7
              Re: Fonts, font management and PDF

              Rich - sorry to correct you, but PDF has ALWAYS supported native TrueType
              embedding (since version 1.0) and recently introduced native OpenType
              embedding with PDF 1.6 (Acrobat 7).

              Also, what makes you think that subset fonts will produce "font conflicts"?
              In what particular workflow would you expect to see such a problem? My
              experience shows that it is usually the exact opposite - that problems may
              occur with FULL embeds over subsets in certain workflows.

              However, I do FULLY agree with you that users should use the GWG Output
              Suite to test their RIPs! Not just for fonts, but for all the aspects that
              it tests.



              • #8
                Re: Fonts, font management and PDF


                I'll give you an example of font conflicts that happens frequently:

                a) Several PDF files are concatenated into one.
                b) the now single PDf file is sent to the RIP. The RIP performs font cashing and somewhere in the middle of the page output fonts go to courier for just a few pages or the remainder of the document.

                From my experiance this happens on many different output devices which use Harlequin RIP's as there front ends. Specifically iGEN, Kodak Digimasters, HP, Minolta to name a few.

                One way to combat this is with One Vision's Asura product. This product specifically does this:

                +To fix those issues and to produce PDF files, which do not offer this processing capabilities, OneVision software has to modify fonts in several different ways. During import time stamps are removed and new time stamps are only generated if a font with the same name is already present. At the end of the import the so called font merging takes place which checks fonts with the same name (not counting time stamps) and checks if they contain the same characters. If they do and the characters have the identical definition or if they contain different characters of the same font then these fonts are merged and then if only one font remains, the time stamps are dropped. Please note that the font merging also takes the installed fonts into account.+

                +During output another set of time stamps can be generated, depending on the PostScript level and the selected font options, so called reencoded time stamps, they carry and RE in the name, are used, to map a large font into smaller 8 bit addressable chunks.+

                I can't tell you how much this One Vision product (no I don't work for them) has helped us in the area of font crashing/cashing.

                Do you know of this issue? and are there other ways to address it?



                • #9
                  Re: Fonts, font management and PDF

                  The problem you describe can ONLY happen for FULL embeds. Since each subset
                  is a "unique ID" (for lack of a better description), it would be a MAJOR
                  violation of the PDF Reference to somehow process these subsets as being the
                  same. If you know of a RIP that does so - I would LOVE to know about it so
                  that we can approach them about their improper implementation. As far as I
                  know, any relatively modern version (say <=5 years old) of the Harlequin RIP
                  does NOT have this problem.

                  OneVision Asura's font handling is one of the worst in the industry! I
                  can't even begin to tell you how much time I spent coding workarounds to the
                  INVALID and IMPROPER Font data that Asura writes into a PDF. They assume
                  that font data is used ONLY for printing and ONLY in a "stand-alone"
                  environment. Any attempt to use the output from Asura for non-print content
                  (where you want to be able to copy/paste/search/index the text) OR in an
                  imposed or aggregate setting is simply doesn't work.



                  • #10
                    Re: Fonts, font management and PDF

                    Sorry, I thought I read here in the forums that TrueType and OpenType did not embed fully.

                    I've experienced problems with subset fonts. Depends on the RIP. Sometime back you said that a full save in Acrobat 7 or 8 would clean up how subset fonts were contained in the PDF, didn't you, Leonard? As in Allen's example? That's the kind of situation where I've gotten burned.


                    • #11
                      Re: Fonts, font management and PDF

                      Wow! "worst in the industry".

                      I guess that depends on which chair your sitting in, as from a printing perspective It is the very best I've seen on cleansing PDF files of potential printing problems. Your comments seem to be coming from a PDF repurposing perspective and for that I wouldn't know, as my goal is to print the PDF as it appears on screen.

                      I'll do some digging on the versions of the RIP's but I know that in the case of HP's (purchased in 2007 and updated in 2008) , iGen's (purchased in 2004 and updated in 2007), and Minolta's (purchased in 2006) this event takes place about 6 to 7% of the time without Asura intervention.

                      I hear what you're saying about this not being an issue with subset fonts and I can assure you that it happens with subset fonts. Maybe for a different reason than described earlier (I'm not sure) but never-the-less most of our trouble is with subset fonts, and without fail Asura corrects the issues.

                      Whether Asura causes repurposing issues with PDF's I can't say. But it has been a Hero for dealing with font issues in the printing community, that much I am certain of.

                      Do you know of an alternative for correcting this issue?



                      • #12
                        Re: Fonts, font management and PDF

                        Sadly tho, most of us can't use PDF 1.6 since quack can't import it. We use Quack 6.52. On occasions, we receive 1.6 PDF then I would have to convert them to lower version



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