> AUGUST 15, 1997
> VOLUME 11 ISSUE 32
> PRINT CLEARLY KATHLEEN TINKEL
>Where have all the font tools gone? Here's a rescue plan
> Take this as a lament, a rant or a call to arms: Most of the software
> we use to modify fonts is dead, gone, off the market. And when the
> programs we use today stop working because of changes in hardware or
> the Mac OS -- which could happen at any time -- we'll be stuck.
> Long time passing
> We used to have a gaggle of specialized programs for customizing fonts:
> kern-pair editors, platform and format converters, and full-fledged
> font-creation programs. They came from a few focused development groups
> -- Altsys Corp., now owned by Macromedia Inc. (Fontographer and
> Metamorphosis Pro) and Ares Software Corp., now owned by Adobe Systems
> Inc. (FontStudio, FontMonger and FontHopper), for example. Of a
> half-dozen kern-pair editors, only KernEdit (now owned by Agfa, a
> division of Bayer Corp.) endured to recent times.
> Of all these programs, only Fontographer is still being sold. It can
> handle most font-modification chores, of course, but it's not as
> efficient at simple tasks as a specialized utility. And in some cases
> it doesn't do as good a job.
> Still, we're fortunate to have Fontographer, and if you acquire it as
> part of the Macromedia FreeHand Graphics Suite, it's a real bargain.
> But I worry about Fontographer's future -- it isn't on the front burner
> at Macromedia as it was at Altsys. Version 5 was shelved during its
> beta cycle last fall, and the company is not saying when it plans to
> resume development.
> At least Fontographer is still sold and supported. We're not so lucky
> with Metamorphosis Pro, FontMonger and FontHopper. Nor with FontStudio,
> which died and reverted to Ares before Adobe bought the company last
> year. Agfa stopped selling KernEdit about a year ago, but it is
> considering an update in response to user appeals.
> A modest proposal
> A minority of Mac users -- perhaps only 100,000 -- need to modify
> fonts, but these few really do need to do it. The standard software
> business model, with its need for Wall Street-pleasing market growth
> and quarterly profits, tends to ignore niche markets like this.
> Yet, the combination of determined users and the pool of unused
> intellectual property suggests a great small-business opportunity. A
> focused team with a passion for doing a small job well -- like the
> people who launched these programs in the first place -- could acquire
> rights to the code, trademarks and list of registered owners for, say,
> FontStudio or Fontographer, FontMonger or Metamorphosis, FontHopper,
> and a kern pair editor, and offer a coherent suite of font products to
> the publishing market.
> Although such a proposal sounds naive, this is one place in which the
> Web makes good business sense. Advertising and distribution, not
> coding, are what drive costs in the software business, after all. Look
> at Ken Stillman of Strider Software. He developed Typestyler, which
> Broderbund Software Inc. sold. Now he's taken back the rights and is
> marketing this special-effects font manipulator from his Web site
> (http://www.typestyler.com). We need a few more entrepreneurs like
> Stillman to save the rest of our font tools.
> Writer-designer Kathleen Tinkel welcomes comments at
> [log in to unmask]
> Copyright (c) 1997 Ziff-Davis Inc. All rights reserved.
> Reproduction in whole or in part in any form or medium without express
> written permission of Ziff-Davis Inc. is prohibited. MacWEEK and the
> MacWEEK logo are trademarks of Ziff-Davis Inc.
[log in to unmask]