Adobe TypeManager Deluxe 4

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Latest version of the typeface handling utility offers TrueType support and improved font management, but both are limited.

Adobe Type Manager

The original version of Adobe Type Manager (ATM) was a breakthrough product that enabled computers to render scaleable fonts both on screen and on paper. Since then, for many people it has become redundant due to the TrueType font handling built directly into Windows. However, for those who use Type 1 fonts - and the professional design industry is still built on them - ATM remains an essential part of their set-up.

Given this, I was slightly apprehensive when installing the latest Deluxe version, as any problems would have had disastrous effects. In fact the installation was straightforward and, after rebooting, the new system was up and running just as normal. By its nature, most of ATM's work is done in this way, in the background while you use your regular applications, which is why it is so easy to forget about its existence.

To get the new benefits of the Deluxe version you have to open the ATM control panel. This is a small dialog box showing a list of all installed fonts. The first difference you'll notice is that, as well as Type 1 fonts, all TrueType fonts are also listed. Since in the real world, most set-ups have included a mixture of both for a long time now, this ability is very welcome, if overdue. The other main difference is that the dialog box now has four tabs to access ATM's improved font management capabilities.

The main new advance is the ability to group fonts into sets. All your currently installed fonts are automatically added to a starter set, but it is also possible to create your own, for example, of all your display faces or all the fonts necessary for a given project. To help you in the process, double-clicking on the name of any font will load it into a preview window, while copying fonts between sets is a simple case of dragging and dropping.

The advantage of sets is that they enable the user to temporarily switch off whole selections of fonts so simplifying their selection within applications and saving on system resources. Over time my installed font collection has expanded to over 1000 although I only regularly use around 300. By creating a set for regular fonts and switching off the starter set it should be possible to keep access to all faces when required, but cut the overheads.

That's the theory. Unfortunately, when I came to switch off my starter set, although ATM showed that 700 of my fonts were now inactive, they were all still available from within my applications. Absolutely nothing had changed! After ringing technical support and considerable digging around in my win.ini, I was able to improve the situation so that at least Type 1 fonts were switched on and off correctly. TrueType fonts, however, stubbornly refused to be controlled.

As the painless handling of font sets is ATM Deluxe's main new attraction, I'm less than impressed. It's just as well that in the future the activation and inactivation of fonts is set to become automatic. For supporting applications, if a document is opened that references a font that is available but not currently installed, the new ATM will automatically activate it. If the typeface is not found, ATM will refer to its font database to create a substitute font to match the missing one's metrics and so preserving the document's line and page breaks.

ATM is able to create such fonts through its use of multiple master outlines which allow the width and weight of a font to be varied as required. Along with around 30 ordinary Type 1 faces, ATM Deluxe comes with a new handwriting-style multiple master called Tekton. While instances of each multiple master can be created automatically in some applications like Acrobat Reader, it is also possible to create permanent renditions for use in any program.

ATM Deluxe's final trick is its new ability to anti-alias font rendering on screen. This blends colours along the edge of each letter shape to create a smoother, softer edge. While this works well on large display text, for body copy it actually makes the text less legible. Since the feature also only works with Type 1 fonts and has a considerable performance hit, anti-aliasing as it stands will only be occasionally useful, for instance, when developing on-screen presentations.

There are other areas where ATM Deluxe could be improved. If other programs can give an instant preview of any selected Type 1 and TrueType font on the fly, ATM should surely be able to do the same. Likewise, while the ability to print out sample sheets and indexes of font sets is welcome, the limited customisability is annoying. When producing a logo, for example, it would be useful to be able to automatically print out the desired name in all available typefaces.

All told, Adobe Type Manager Deluxe is a mixed bag. The behind-the-scenes font rendering remains an invaluable part of any system using Type 1 fonts, but the new so-called Deluxe features are distinctly ordinary. If you want to feel more in control of your font collection, you could probably do worse, but Adobe could certainly do better.

Features

4

Ease Of Use

3

Value For Money

4

Overall

4

ratings out of 6

Type Manager
Software / Upgrade
Save $$!   Save ££!

System Requirements: 486 or higher, 8Mb of RAM, 10Mb of disk space, Windows 95.

Tom Arah

Jan 1998


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