See reader questions & answers on this topic! - Help others by sharing your knowledge
Subject: 4. OS/2 Information [ed: Except as otherwise noted, the entire OS/2 section of the comp.fonts FAQ List is derived from the "Draft OS/2 Font FAQ" posted by David J. Birnbaum.] This section if the FAQ is Copyright (C) 1993 by David J. Birnbaum. All Rights Reserved. Reproduced here by permission. [ed: Since this section of the FAQ is wholly derived from David's document, some sections contain information repeated elsewhere in the comp.fonts FAQ.] David Birnbaum's Introduction ============================= 4 June 1993 A couple of weeks ago I posted an inquiry to comp.fonts, comp.os.os2.misc, and the OS2-L ListServ concerning some apparent peculiarities in the way OS/2 handles font files. These "peculiarities" actually reflect regular, systematic differences in OS/2, Windows, and DOS font handling, which are not conveniently described in end-user documentation. This posting is intended to spare others some of the confusion I encountered as a result of this paradigm shift. This is the first (draft) distribution of this document and corrections and suggestions are welcome. I am grateful to Henry Churchyard, Marc L. Cohen, Bur Davis and Kamal Mansour for helpful discussions; they are not, of course, responsible for any misinterpretation I may have inflicted on their comments. Subject: 4.1. Preliminaries Character: an informational unit consisting of a value (usually a byte) and roughly corresponding to what we think of as letters, numbers, punctuation, etc. Glyph: a presentational unit corresponding roughly to what we think of as letters, numbers, punctuation, etc. Character vs glyph: Glyph and character are not necessarily the same; the character <a> may be mapped to a Times Roman Lower Case <a> glyph in one font and to a Helvetica Lower Case <a> glyph in another font. Change of glyphs normally means a change in style of presentation, while change in characters normally means a change in information. There are gray areas and the definitions provided above are general, approximate, and imprecise. Character set: an inventory of characters with certain assigned values. ASCII is a 7-bit character set that specifies which "character cell" (byte value) corresponds to which informational unit. Code Page: essentially synonymous with character set. Font: A collection of glyphs. A specific font may be isomorphic with a specific character set, containing only glyphs corresponding to characters in that set, with these glyphs mapped to the same byte values as the characters they are intended to represent. PostScript fonts often contain additional (unmapped) characters. Most importantly, PostScript fonts may sometimes be remapped by an operating environment, which is what leads to the disorienting cross-environment mismatch that spurred my original posting. Fonts may be bitmapped or outline in format; a bitmapped format corresponds to a particular size and weight for a particular device or device resolution, while a single outline font is used to generate multiple sizes as needed. Within an outline font system, different weights (bold, semibold, italic, etc.) may be encoded as separate font resources (separate outline files used to generate the glyphs) or may all be generated from a single outline (slanting characters to make "italics," fattening them for "bold," etc.). Subject: 4.2. Fonts under DOS I used a large assortment of fonts under DOS for intricate multilingual work. My setup at that time consisted of a library of bitmapped fonts that could be sent to my HP LaserJet II printer, as well as a set of fixed-size, fixed-width screen fonts that were supported by my Hercules Graphics Card Plus (not the same as Hercules Graphics; the "Plus" included an ability to store 3072 screen glyphs and display any of these together, while standard character-mode displays were normally limited to 256 or 512 such entities). Using XyWrite as a word processor, I would enter a "Mode" command to change fonts and character sets simultaneously; this would make different sets of screen glyphs available at the keyboard and would insert a font-change command for my printer into the text stream. The "Mode" and font-change commands were not displayed on the screen. The result was not WYSIWYG, since I was limited to fixed-width screen display and since I had far more printer glyphs available than the 3072 limit imposed by my video card; I used a brightness attribute to indicate bold, I used the same screen font for different sizes of printer fonts, etc. This worked and worked well, in that I could see (for example) Russian, Greek, English, Polish, and other characters simultaneously on the screen and I could print documents combining them. Architecturally, what was going on was that the character sets (code pages) and fonts were entirely isomorphic and were hard- coded. If I put a particular Russian letter into cell 246 of my screen and printer fonts, that character was always there, and any strategy that would let me access this cell (remapped keyboards, numeric keypad) was guaranteed always to find the same character. Subject: 4.3. Windows I recently began using PostScript fonts in Windows with AmiPro as my word processor. These fonts came with printed cards indicating the glyph mappings; I could look at the card and it would tell me that a specific character lived in cell 246, and if I entered Alt-0246 at the numeric keypad that glyph would appear on the screen. If I loaded the font into Fontographer for Windows, these glyphs would be arrayed in cells according to the map provided by Adobe with the fonts. Fontographer also revealed that these fonts had other, "unmapped" glyphs assigned to cells above 255. Given what appeared to be a hard correspondence among what I saw in Fontographer, what was printed in Adobe's maps, and what was displayed when I entered something at the keyboard, I naively assumed that PostScript fonts were operating much like my bitmapped fonts under DOS. There were some obvious differences, the primary one being that glyphs of different sizes were all drawn from the same font resource files under PostScript, but it appeared as if a glyph lived in a certain cell. Subject: 4.4. Differences between Windows and OS/2 This assumption was incorrect; PostScript fonts can be subdivided into two types, one of which observes hard and invariant encodings similar to those that apply to my bitmapped fonts, while the other represents a completely different font mapping strategy. This difference became apparent only when I attempted to share PostScript fonts between Windows and OS/2 and got some unexpected results. A PostScript font under Windows involves two files, a PFB (PostScript Font Binary) file, which contains the PostScript instructions needed to draw each glyph and some mapping information, and a PFM (Printer Font Metrics) file, which encodes width and kerning information. A PostScript font under OS/2 also uses the same PFB file, but instead of the PFM file it uses an AFM (Adobe Font Metrics) file. The AFM and PFM files contain much of the same basic information (although the AFM file is somewhat more complete); the most important differences are in format (AFM is plain text, PFM is binary) and use (OS/2 uses AFM, Windows uses PFM). Subject: 4.5. Installation under Windows and Win-OS/2 The OS/2 2.0 Font Palette tool (see below for changes to be introduced with 2.1) by default installs fonts (both PFB and AFM files) into the "\os2\dll" directory. Win-OS/2 by default installs PFB files into "\psfonts" and PFM files into "\psfonts\pfm". These defaults can be changed; since OS/2 and Win-OS/2 use the same PFB files, the user can save disk space by allowing these to be shared (through installing into the same directory, e.g., install OS/2 fonts into the "\psfonts" directory instead of "\os2\dll".) Note that fonts must be intalled and removed through the Font Palette; if you copy, move, or delete a font file without using the Font Palette, the system configuration files are not updated and all hell breaks loose. Deleting fonts from Win-OS/2 causes the system to update the win.ini file to remove references to the font, but does not delete any files physically. Deleting fonts from the OS/2 Font Palette updates the os2.ini configuration file and physically deletes the AFM and PFB files from the disk. This means that if you are sharing PFB files between OS/2 and Win-OS/2, you can delete a Win-OS/2 font without hurting native OS/2 operations, since the PFB reamins installed where OS/2 thinks it is. But if you delete an OS/2 font using the Font Palette, the PFB file is erased from the disk even though the win.ini file is not updated, so that Win-OS/2 thinks it is still there. Subject: 4.6. FontSpecific PostScript Encoding Every PFB file contains an "encoding vector"; this is a plain text line embedded near the head of the PFB file. Encoding vectors are of two types: AdobeStandardEncoding and everything else. Adobe usually uses the label "FontSpecific" for fonts that are not encoded according to AdobeStandardEncoding, and I use it as a cover term here for any such font. If you look at the readable plain text information at the head of a FontSpecific type font, it includes a range of text that begins: /Encoding 256 array followed by a bunch of lines, each of which includes a number (which corresponds to a cell in the font layout) and the name of the glyph that lives in that cell. The unreadable binary data below this array specification lists the name of each glyph and the PostScript instructions for how the glyph is to be drawn. There may be PostScript code for drawing glyphs that are not included in the mapping array, but only glyphs mentioned in the array specification are available to applications. FontSpecific type fonts are comparable to the bitmapped fonts I used under DOS. Each character physically is assigned to a specific cell within the font file and operating environments are not allowed to remap these. The glyph in cell 246 will be the same in both Windows and OS/2. Subject: 4.7. AdobeStandardEncoding AdobeStandardEncoding is a specific mapping of certain glyphs to certain cells; in this respect it resembles FontSpecific encoding. Because it is standardized, the array is not spelled out in the PFB file; the line /Encoding StandardEncoding def tells Adobe Type Manager (ATM, either the Windows and Win-OS/2 version or the native OS/2 version) that the encoding is "standard," and the environments are expected to know what this standard is without having the array spelled out in each font file. Although AdobeStandardEncoding is a real mapping, there is an importance difference between it and various FontSpecific mappings: operating environments are expected to remap AdobeStandardEncoding fonts according to their own requirements. That is, although AdobeStandardEncoding does assign glyphs to cells, no operating environment actually uses these assignments and any environment remaps the glyphs before rendering them. Confusion arises because Windows and OS/2 remap such fonts in different ways. Subject: 4.8. AdobeStandardEncoding under Windows (and Win-OS/2) An AdobeStandardEncoding font under Windows is remapped according to a character map (code page) that MicroSoft calls Windows ANSI (can other code pages be installed in Windows?). This determines which character resides in which cell and the font is remapped so that glyphs and characters will correspond. Since Fontographer for Windows is a Windows application, it displays glyphs not in the cells in which they live according to AdobeStandardEncoding, but in the cells to which they get reassigned under the remapping to Windows ANSI. There is nothing explicit in the PFB file that associates these characters with the specific cells in which they appear under Windows. Subject: 4.9. AdobeStandardEncoding under OS/2 OS/2 operates within a set of supported code pages; two system- wide code pages are specified in the config.sys file and an application is allowed to switch the active code page to any supported code page (not just these two). DeScribe, for example, currently operates in code page (CP) 850, which includes most letters needed for western European Latin alphabet writing. CP 850 does not contain typographic quotes, en- and em-dashes, and other useful characters. It does contain the IBM "pseudographics," which are useful for drawing boxes and lines with monospaced fonts. When the user inputs a value (through the regular keyboard or the numeric keypad), the application checks the active CP, looks up in an internal table the name of the character that lives in that cell within that CP, and translates it into a unique number that corresponds to one of the 383 glyphs supported by OS/2 (the union of all supported code pages). This number is passed to PM-ATM (the OS/2 ATM implementation), which translate the glyph number into the glyph name that PostScript fonts expect and searches the font for that name. The system never looks at where a glyph is assigned under the AdobeStandardEncoding array; rather, it scans the font looking for the character by name and gives it an assignment derived from the active code page. This is the remapping that OS/2 performs on AdobeStandardEncoding type fonts. As a result, a situation arises where, for example, <o+diaeresis> is mapped to cell 246 under Windows ANSI but to cell 148 under CP 850. Using the identical PFB file, this glyph is accessed differently in the two operating environments. Subject: 4.10. Consequences for OS/2 users If your font has a FontSpecific encoding, there are no unexpected consequences; the same glyphs will show up at the same locations in both Windows (Win-OS/2) and native OS/2. Regardless of what the active code page is, if the font has a FontSpecific encoding OS/2 goes by cell value; a specific glyph is hard-coded to a specific cell and OS/2 will give you whatever it finds there, even if what it finds disagrees with what the active code page would normally predict. In other words, FontSpecific encoding means "ignore the mapping of the active code page and rely on the mapping hard-coded into the font instead." If your font has an AdobeStandardEncoding encoding, the following details obtain: 1) The same PFB file may have glyphs that are accessible in one environment but not another. For example, if DeScribe thinks it is operating in CP 850, there is no access to typographic quotes, even if those do occur in the PFB file and even if Windows can find them in the same exact font file. DeScribe could switch code pages, but if the application isn't set up to do so (and DeScribe currently isn't), those characters are absolutely inaccessible to the user. 2) If the active code page includes a character that isn't present in the font, OS/2 has to improvise. For example, AdobeStandardEncoding fonts do not normally include the IBM pseudographics, yet the user who inputs the character value for one of these sends the system off to look for it. As described above, OS/2 first checks the active font for the glyph name that corresponds to that character and, if it finds it, displays it. If the glyph isn't found, OS/2 looks to the system Symbol font. This is not reported back to the user in DeScribe; if I have Adobe Minion active (AdobeStandardEncoding, no information anywhere in the font files for pseudographics) and input a pseudographic character, DeScribe tells me it is still using Adobe Minion, even though it has fetched the character it displays and prints from the Symbol font, a different font resource file. Subject: 4.11. Advice to the user OS/2's code page orientation provides some advantages, in that it separates the character set (code page) mapping from the encoded font mapping. The main inconvenience isn't a loss of function, but a disorientation as users become accustomed to the new paradigm. If you need a glyph that you know is in your PFB file but that isn't in the active code page (and if you can't change code pages within your application), you can't get at it in OS/2 without tampering with the font files. To tamper, you can use font manipulation tools to redesignate the PFB file as FontSpecific ("Symbol" character set to Fontographer). If you then map the glyphs you need into one of the lower 256 cells (with some limitations), they will be accessible in all environments. The Fontographer manual does not explain what the "Symbol" character encoding label really does, it just tells you not to use it except for real symbol fonts. In fact you should use it for any font that will not correspond in inventory to the code page supported by your application, which means any non-Latin fonts. You do not have to recode all your fonts, and you wouldn't normally want to do so, since Fontographer hinting is not nearly as good as Adobe's own hand-tuning and regenerating a font regenerates the hints. All you have to do is make sure you have one FontSpecific type font installed that includes your typographic quotes, etc. for each typeface you need. Within DeScribe, you can then write a macro that will let you switch fonts, fetch a character, and switch back, thereby allowing you to augment any group of fonts with a single, shared set of typographic quotes (or whatever) that you put in a single FontSpecific font. Alternatively, OS/2 also supports CP 1004, which does contain typographic quotes and other characters used for high-quality typography, but the user may not be able to convince an application to invoke this code page if it was not designed to do so. You can have any number of FontSpecific fonts installed, which means that there is a mechanism for dealing with unsupported character sets (code pages). You can also tinker with the font files to try to trick the operating system. For example, using Fontographer or other utilities, you can change the name assigned to a glyph description within the PFB file. If you want to use AdobeStandardEncoding and you want to see a specific glyph at a specific cell when DeScribe thinks it's using CP 850, you have to make sure that the name assigned to the description of that glyph is what DeScribe expects to find. OS/2 doesn't care whether, say, <o+diaeresis> really looks like <o> with two dots over it, as long as it bears the right name. This second approach is obviously far more complex and provides much more opportunity for error. Its advantage is that OS/2 does not support case conversion and sorting (other than in machine order) for unsupported code pages, since these operations depend on character names. Keeping supported names from supported code pages while changing the artwork is one way to maintain order and case correspondences while increasing the range of glyphs actually supported. I have not experimented with this approach, since the use I would get out of the adding functionality (over the FontSpecific encoding approach) is not worth the amount of effort required. Subject: 4.12. OS/2 2.1 and beyond OS/2 2.1 will change some aspects of font handling. First, OS/2 2.0 GA+SP has a bug that can cause OS/2 to crash when an AFM file with more than 512 kern pairs is read. This is fixed in 2.1. (This bug is separate from a design limitation in MicroSoft Windows that causes large kern tables to be read incorrectly. This problem is still under investigation; watch this space for a report.) Fonts in 2.1 will be installed by default into the "\psfonts" directory, so that they will normally be shared with Win-OS/2 fonts. (The user will still be able to specify a directory; all that will change is the default). The user will also be able to instruct the Font Palette not to delete font files when fonts are uninstalled, so as to avoid clobbering a Win-OS/2 font by removing it from native OS/2 use through the Font Palette (although the default will still be to delete the physical font files). OS/2 will stop using AFM files and will replace these with OFM files, a binary metrics file (different from PFM) that OS/2 will compile from the AFM file during font installation. This will speed font loading, since the system will not have to parse a plain text metrics file. Additionally, the OS/2 PostScript printer driver used to install its own, large font files, but will now use the OFM and PFB files, thereby saving 50k-200k of disk space per installed font outline. IBM's long-term goal is to replace the 383-entity inventory of supported glyphs with Unicode. This is very much a long-term goal and there is not even a hint of when it might become available. It has its own problems, stemming from the fact that Unicode is essentially a character standard and glyph and character inventories may differ is assorted ways, but it will be a significant step in the proverbial right direction.
Part1 - Part2 - Part3 - Part4 - Part5 - Part6 - Part7 - Part8 - Part9 - Part10 - Part11 - Part12 - Part13 - Part14 - Part15 - Part16 - Part17
Send corrections/additions to the FAQ Maintainer:
firstname.lastname@example.org (Norman Walsh)
Last Update March 27 2014 @ 02:11 PM